Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year's Eve!




Check in with Soccer Mom in Denial who started Music Monday and see who else is playing!

Auld Lang Syne sung by: Barbra Streisand


As I was looking through the offerings on YouTube for Auld Lang Syne, I ran into a number of truly fun, and some rather nifty entries. This particular rendition of this New Year’s Eve standard, was one I had not heard before. I also got a kick out of it being a recording of a 2000 New Year’s Eve concert, and that flashlights had been provided for those in attendance, incase the lights went out--do we ALL remember the “turn of the millennium” forecast of gloom, doom, and random blackouts, etc.?


For me that rather added to the nostalgia. I hope you’ll enjoy this arrangement of “Auld Lang Syne”.

So here's to all my old and new friends: May you all have a VERY Safe and Fun entry into the New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Auld Lang Syne

Enjoy, and Happy New Years!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

SINGULAR SATURDAY



Jenn in Holland inspired me to join in on her: Singular Saturday. If you pop over to her site, you can see who else is being "singular" today. So here’s this Saturday’s “singular”:


GRATITUDE

Monday, December 24, 2007

Celine Dion-Oh Holy night

Wishing You All A Merry Christmas!

MUSIC MONDAY



Check in with Soccer Mom in Denial who started Music Monday and see who else is playing!

Oh Holy Night sung by Celine Dion


Beyond the tinsel, lights and glitter, beyond the gaily wrapped presents, the ribbons and the bows, beyond the festive decorations and turkey, stuffing, pies and desserts, beyond all of the rest, we find the true meaning of Christmas, of our dear Savior’s birth, of the greatest gift of love our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us.

This song, for me, epitomizes the true meaning and spirit of Christ’s birth. I hope you enjoy it with me.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

MERRY CHRISTMAS!




Today my uncle went home to be with the Lord, and to be with his wife, Nina and all our other relatives who I am sure are welcoming him even as we speak. It has rather changed the tenor of our family’s holiday celebrations--but life does go on, and there will be meals shared and gifts exchanged yet this week.

Right now I find myself at the end of the day. We’re in the middle of quite a nasty snow storm, with winds whipping up the four to six new inches of snow with gusts up to forty-five miles per hour. There’s been baking to finish, a huge meal to prepare and now put away and store. But dealing with the loss of my uncle, that I’ve just not had time to do yet.

So, not knowing what the next few days are going to entail, I wanted to wish all of you my Christmas best wishes. I will try to get around to read and comment to all of you whom I’ve come to enjoy sharing your thoughts and family’s and activities. I am continually impressed with the number of gifted, creative, sensitive, caring, sharing, widely diverse and infinitely talented people this blogosphere has made available for me to meet and interact with.

Joy to each of you and heart peace. I will be thinking of you, and will write as my heart allows me to do.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

SINGULAR SATURDAY




Jenn in Holland inspired me to join in on her: Singular Saturday. If you pop over to her site, you can see who else is being "singular" today. So here’s this Saturday’s “singular”:

ANTICIPATION

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

READING FOR LIFE



In our Sunday paper, there is an insert magazine called PARADE. This past Sunday they had an interview of sorts with author James Patterson.

Here is the opening to the article:
“The best-selling novelist James Patterson has written 44 books, which have sold an estimated 130 million copies worldwide. He’s also the first author to have his books occupy the No. 1 spots on both the adult and children’s best-seller lists at the same time. PARADE asked Patterson what present he’d most like to give his son this holiday season. Here’s his reply--in a letter to 9-year-old Jack.”



Here are a few excerpts from the article:
“I have something grand to tell you--not dreaded advice or a boring lecture, just something cool as ice that I want to share. It’s a gift from your old dad--maybe the best one I’ll ever give you.

. . .

“Jack, I want you to become a passionate reader for life, and not because you have to or because it might make you more successful or get you into Harvard or Stanford. I’m talking about real passion here, like the way you currently go crazy over The Simpsons and The Incredibles.

. . .

“A great French writer named Gustave Flaubert once said, ‘It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating. Today, for instance . . . I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the wind, the words my people uttered.’ Jack, that’s how I feel when I write, and it’s also how you’ll feel when you read a great book. It’s truly one of the best things in life!

. . .


“I believe that getting you to read is my responsibility, my job. In fact, it’s the responsibility of all parents, grandparents and teachers. That’s why I’m doing my homework now and searching for some terrific books that I know you’ll love.”

This article in its entirety is found in PARADE magazine, December 16, 2007 issue, pages 22-24. I’m not sure what else they may have at their website www.parade.com; however, they end the article with a blurb about sharing your own favorite books for kids.

Please come join our Day to Read:
If you would like to add your two cents to this Day to Read, January 10, 2008, please send to SMID or a2eatwrite for the button--display, and talk it up!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Dr. Elmo

Just for a giggle or two . . .

Music Monday



Check in with Soccer Mom in Denial who started Music Monday and see who else is playing

In the tradition of Christmas songs that others have been sharing lately, I’d like to add in one of my son and his grandmother (my mom’s) favorite holiday selections: Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.

Zach had shared this song for the first time with Mom years and years ago--but as the years have added up, Mom forgets about it. So then, when she comes for her Christmas visit from the nursing home, Zach will haul out the tape player and share it with her. And once again they both sit and laugh and share rolled eyeballs as each verse unfolds.

Mom will ask him to play it again and again over the week long visit, until I think my hubby and I have had enough. But it’s pretty great that she and Zachery have this song to share each holiday.

Hope you enjoy it too--it’s just for some laughs and a giggle. Maybe you’ve got a grandma to share it with too!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

There's No Place Like Home: Part 3



There‘s No Place Like Home: Part 1 may be found here. Part 2 may be found here. SOS is an event inspired by Brillig and Walking Kateastrophe's . Hope you all enjoy this next entry to this fictional tale. To find out who else is taking part, and read some great SOS, Musings from a Muse is hosting this week. Go check it out for some soapy fun!


Gratefully the La Crosse airport was relatively small. Grace knew the only reason for the crowd that filled the lobby was because they had traveled the last leg of the flight from Minneapolis to La Crosse with a plane full of kids coming back from a school field trip to the Guthrie Theater. They had been there working in some kind of workshop with other youth from around the country, and were quite wired as they headed home.

And now, as Leland jockeyed for a good position to grab their luggage off the horse-shoe baggage conveyor belt, Gregory did his best to stick close to both of them. The nearest spots were filled, and Leland had to content himself with a spot about half-way around the “u” shape. Although there was a rather loud “hum” of voices, Gregory tried to explain why he was there, and what was going on. Grace knew his voice was deeper and could be louder, but he always spoke with hesitancy around his grandfather.

“They air-lifted Uncle Mick around nine this morning. Dad figured you’d be on your flight, so there was no way to get word to you. Dad drove Aunt Delores and me, and Mom stayed home with all the kids. Aunt Delores wanted him to stay with her at the hospital, so that’s why they brought me, to come pick you up.”

There was no acknowledgment from his grandfather, so he nervously sputtered on.

“Uncle Teddy is out at the farm seeing what can be salvaged.”

Leland’s voice was almost a growl, “Junior should have stayed at the farm to look after the animals and sent Teddy.”

Grace flinched as she watched her grandson’s posture stiffen. It wasn’t fair of Leland to take out his angst on Gregory, but it had been that way ever since his father and mother had chosen to name him Gregory, instead of Leland Allen Mueller V. It wasn’t Gregory’s fault, but since his father had become a veterinarian, putting a Doctor in front of the name, Leland hadn’t been able to put the blame on his own son. He blamed his daughter-in-law, who chose her own grandfather and father’s names for her son: Gregory Michael.

The luggage had finally arrived and the noise level appropriately increased as young voices sang out identifying their bags, and eager hands reached out to grab them off the conveyor belt before they passed by and would have to make another round before appearing again. Leland snatched all of their bags off the belt without saying a word. And Gregory skillfully placed them between he and his grandfather until all the bags were accounted for. Once in hand, they made their way to the parking lot and the family van without another word being spoken.

Grace wanted desperately to get more news out of Gregory as they drove to the hospital. Leland had taken the keys to the van while Gregory helped his grandmother into the front seat. He had climbed into the back grateful to be out of the line of fire from his grandfather. So instead of getting information, there was nothing but silence inside the van.

Grace tried a couple of times to say something about seeing the Mississippi again, how green everything was, something just to lighten the heaviness as they drove. She was grateful the hospital was just a twenty minute or so drive from the airport.

“They’re building a new parking garage or something, Grandpa, at the hospital. You’re going to have to follow the signs for the parking, and then they have transportation picking people up in the lots and getting them up to the building. Would you like to pull right up to the front door, and then I’ll park the van and catch a ride up from the lot?”

“Yes. That will be easier on Grace, and get us into the hospital faster. Where do they have Mick?”

Gregory took a moment to answer, since his grandfather’s voice was the softest and weariest he’d ever heard it. There had never been a sign of frailty in his grandfather as far as he could remember. But in those few words, he heard his grandfather sound tired, and old. When he finally found his voice, he tried to give the best directions he could.

The van came to a halt close to the door. Then Leland rolled the car a little further ahead out of the direct line of the door, thus allowing another vehicle behind him to move directly in front of the doorway. He shut off the motor, and turned around in his seat trying to look at Gregory sitting in the back. His face and eyes looked worn, and it was evident he’d been crying. Both Grace and Gregory were taken aback. Both tried to say something, anything, but neither did more than open their mouths and then close them again.

“Do you know how bad it is, boy? Did they say anything concrete?”

Gregory almost whispered, “Uncle Mick‘s got broken ribs, Grandpa. One of them has punctured his lungs. I think they were talking about a surgery, and needing a specialist. That’s all I’ve heard. Nobody talked all the way here. Grandma Telner told me to pray and not stop praying. So that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Leland let out a deep dragging sigh. Grace thought it sounded like he’d held his breath for the whole trip, and then let it all out in that one long sigh. She began to fumble through her purse looking for a Puffs, as the tears she’d been trying to keep back began to roll down her cheeks, unchecked. Gregory reached out for his Grandfather’s hand, then his grandmother’s. Leland bowed his head, as his grandson offered a prayer. Then there was only the sniffling back of tears. Gregory got out of the van, walked around to his grandmother’s door, and helped his grandparents into the entrance of the hospital.

As if on cue, Leland appeared to escort his parents. Gregory had used his cell phone to call from the lot where he was parking the van letting his dad know they had gotten from the airport to the hospital. Grace threw herself into her son’s waiting arms. Leland was rather amazed when his father joined in the embrace, putting his arms around both his wife and son. For a moment he couldn’t find his voice.

“Dad, it’s not good. They’ve got him in surgery right now. There’s a punctured lung, he’s bleeding internally, they’re looking at a fractured pelvis, a dislocated knee, and they said his ankle will need to be pinned. But all of that will have to wait until they can get him stabilized, the bleeding stopped . . .” his voice trailed off as he felt his parents both shivering in his arms.

“I should have come home this summer. Please take us to Delores, son.”

And with that, Leland straightened himself, pulled Grace to him, holding her firmly, and looked to his son for directions.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

SINGULAR SATURDAY




Jenn in Holland inspired me a few Saturdays ago to join in on her: Singular Saturday. So here’s this Saturday’s “singular”:

FRAZZLED

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In Answer to Mariposa's Meme

Mariposa was “tagged” by Gwen of Everything I Like Causes Cancer--and now has tagged me for this meme:

Here are the rules...
(1) Make a list of eight random facts/habits about themselves.
(2) Tag eight other people to do this meme and list their names. [I've amended this to TWO people, not eight.]
(3) Leave a comment on each of the Tagged People's websites to inform them about the meme which they're tagged to do (enjoined to participate!). [I'm amending to ask "Please, would you enjoy taking part? I'd like to see your answers!]

OK, we’ll start with the Eight Random Facts/habits about ME:

  1. When I was very young, my folks owned and operated a pet store.
  2. I grew up having my father telling me and my brother stories at bedtime which he would make up “off the top of his head”; and, he always left them at a “critical point” so my brother and I were hanging on every word, and would never fight going to bed the next night, so we could hear more of the story. (Unfortunately, there were no tape recording devices in our home in those days, so all of these marvelous stories are lost to the world--which is very sad, as he was a wonderful and magical storyteller.)
  3. No doubt because of being raised in a pet store, and having parents (especially my father) loving critters, I have had an alligator, numerous chameleons, “circus” mice, guinea pigs, and a host of birds, dogs, a cat, fish, rabbits, etc., as pets over the years.
  4. I lived in Aspen, CO for one interesting summer when I was 39 years old (my children and husband were back in Iowa--and it was the first time I’d ever been alone, as I went from daddy’s home to hubby and my home, no place of my own in-between).
  5. It is a rare thing for me to have, as my health and body can’t really tolerate too much of a good thing--but I am a major fan of Cotton Candy. Any midway I go to, at any fair, and I’m in line at the first cotton candy vendor!
  6. When I was a little girl I had copper red hair. And along with the red hair, came a red-head’s fiery disposition if crossed. I now have pretty much “salt and pepper” hair, more salt than pepper. And you really have to push things to ever see my temper flair.
  7. When I was young I got on a kick of naming everything “Buttercup”. I believe it was the name of Dale Evan’s horse (Roy Roger’s wife)--I may be wrong, but it was a horse on a TV show. For the next few years, I named every doll, every stuffed toy, Buttercup. My family couldn’t see how I kept all the Buttercups separate--but then again, why would I need to, it wasn’t like any of them had to actually “answer” to the name and show up when I called. LOL
  8. One of the people I’m looking forward to seeing in Heaven is Mark Twain/Samuel L. Clemens. I have been a fan, an admirer, a student of his for eons. I’m sure I have a host of questions for him--but in truth, I would just enjoy sitting over a cup of tea with him and letting him do all the talking.


There we go, eight exceptionally random facts about me. And now the two people I'm tagging:

Jen from a2eatwrite

GF from View from Here

Now I’ll zip over to their spots and “tag” ‘em. And thanks Mariposa for thinking of me!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Puppy Song - Puppy Music Video 4

Music Monday

Check in with Soccer Mom in Denial who started Music Monday and see who else is playing!

This is my first Music Monday:

There is a song that just makes me happy. I’m happy when I hear it, I’m happy when I sing it. I was introduced to it when I first watched the movie, You’ve Got Mail, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It just sets the tone to the entire movie--and it took no time at all for me to fall in love with it.

Once you’ve heard it, I think you’ll agree, you just have to smile and tap your toe. Have a listen. Also go to YouTube and do a search for other Harry Nilsson songs--he wrote “Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me” for the movie Midnight Cowboy, as well as “I Guess the Lord Must Be In New York City”, which was also in You’ve Got Mail.

Enjoy!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Home Is Where The Heart Is: Part 2



Home Is Where The Heart Is: Part 2


Home Is Where The Heart Is: Part 1 may be found here. SOS is an event inspired by Brillig and Walking Kateastrophe . Hope you all enjoy this next entry to this fictional tale. To find out who else is taking part, and read some great SOS, Walking Kateastrophe is hosting this week. Go check it out for some soapy fun!

For the first time in a month, Grace was headed in the right direction, home. It wasn’t for the reasons she would ever wish, but still, she was going home to Wisconsin, the farm, and her family.

The early evening phone call had been a shock. It seemed so incongruous to hear your son was in the ER, there was a bad storm, a tornado, undetermined damage . . .and all the while your eyes were looking out on San Diego’s swaying palm trees and balmy robin egg blue skies.

The hours from then to now, sitting there in the plane, sandwiched in between her sizeable husband, and a very hefty woman who reeked of garlic, seemed a blur. For once Grace was pleased Leland knew his way around a computer. She had mixed emotions about his bringing his laptop on their summer vacation--but as he scanned for the most direct flight, the least number of transfers, made the reservation, and made all the arrangements for checking out, returning the lease car, canceling events, etc., she was duly impressed.

And now there was nothing to do for the next few hours, but sit and try not to think too much. Leland had brought his computer, but had denied Grace bringing her hand work. Right now would have been a good time for crocheting, tatting, anything that would have allowed her to keep her hands busy, and her mind occupied. Instead she tried to doze. Sleep seemed the only escape, and something she would probably be short of in the coming days.


Images of Dorothy’s house being tossed around the dark Kansas skies, with the wicked witch of the West, looking a lot like a green Leland, cackling heinously as the swirling house landed on the wicked witch of the East, all flew through her sleepy head. Grace twisted in her plane seat as much as the house did in the Tale of Oz.

At last the plane taxied down the runway. It had been a fairly smooth flight, especially the last leg of the journey. And now, in minutes, Grace would be able to see her daughter-in-law, Delores’ face. She’d be able to tell immediately if things were OK. As she looked through the crowd of waiting faces, she finally spotted her grandson, Gregory. His boyish face looked drawn and anxious. Her stomach lurched. It meant Delores hadn’t been able to leave the hospital and Mick, and neither had Mick’s brothers or sisters been able to come. Not a good sign.

Grace reached for Leland’s arm. He had spotted Gregory too. His stride increased and it was all she could do to keep up with him. She was almost panting when they reached Gregory, but Leland merely nodded at his grandson, and continued in full stride toward the luggage pickup area. It became a race to see if the young man could keep up with his grandfather. He and Grace exchanged glances, but there was little time to talk as her husband wangled his way through the crowded terminal.

It was like having her old husband back. He had his family first and foremost in his mind, and he would let NOTHING stand between himself and getting to his son. Her heart swelled, and tears welled in her eyes--she was truly coming home. And with her husband. No matter what they would face, they would be facing it together, no holds barred. If she would have had any breath left, she would have sighed.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

SINGULAR SATURDAY




Jenn in Holland inspired me a few Saturdays ago to join in on her: Singular Saturday. So here’s this Saturday’s “singular”:

A word that exemplifies the sights and sounds of the holidays for me:

Kaleidoscope

Friday, December 7, 2007

Addicted to Blogging?

Having found this interesting percentage comment at Katstuff’s site, I immediately clicked on the link to find out what percentage my data would illicit. Much to my chagrin, I came up with 74%, barely shaving off 1% point from Kat’s--argh--how did this happen? I’ve only been blogging for a little over a month now.

I want all of you reading this to know, you are, in part, responsible for this score, If you all didn’t write such great blogs, I wouldn’t be spending so many hours a day reading and commenting on blogs. That would have helped heaps in keeping my percentages down.

And since so many of you have written such encouraging and wonderful responses to my blogs, you have encouraged me to be THINKING about what I’m going to blog next--again, raising my percentage points.

Then there’s the whole Soap Opera Sunday thing, and the Music Mondays, Wordless Wednesdays and Singular Saturdays--yes, I’ve “blown things off” to get to these special entries. Again, clearly NOT my sole fault, as it’s all of you writing such great things that draws me in.

Clearly, I’m not taking the hit for this 74% alone--I’m holding all of you responsible for my addiction. Thank you, by-the-way, I’m having WAY way too much fun ;-)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Home Is Where The Heart Is: Part 1






Soap Opera Sunday is an event inspired by Brillig and Walking Kateastrophe's . Today's entry is a fictional piece I've been working on--hope you enjoy!



The wire whisk stopped mid-stroke. “You want to go to San Diego? Why?”


“Listen Grace, I’ve been reading. They have a zoo, a sea world, a huge museum, a planetarium, beaches. And if we run out of things there, we can hop on the freeway and be up in L.A. in an afternoon and go to Disneyland. Come on, admit it. You’ve said you wanted to go to Disneyland ever since you were a slip of a girl and watched old Walt himself turn the first spade of dirt on the future home of Disneyland.” Leland’s words tumbled out trying to find favor with the ridged backside of his wife.


As his words continued, naming this place and that from all the tourist brochures he’d received from the San Diego and California Tourism boards, Grace once again worked the whisk until the eggs and milk were a yellow foam. Adroitly she reached over to the small length of countertop and picked up saucer after saucer, dumping their contents of sliced mushrooms, diced green peppers, onions, and ham into the froth. Soon the click, click, click accompanied Leland’s remarks as she turned the ingredients through the omelet, never letting them settle until she was ready to pour them into the awaiting pre-heated pan.


Quickly she moved the two feet back to the small double sink and placed the large bowl, now devoid of its mix, the wire whisk and assorted saucers, spatulas, measuring cups and knives into the sink. Briefly she allowed her thoughts to encompass the sizeable array in the small metal sink. How fixing breakfast muffins and an omelet for two could possibly take up that many utensils was a mystery, she chuckled. Nothing like fixing breakfast for five strapping teenagers come in from farm chores, she silently avowed shaking her head in testament.


“It’ll be fun, Grace. We’ll map out all the places we want to see between St. Louis and San Diego. Make a real trip of it. No holds barred!” Leland said with great relish. “I can send for information from each state we’ll go through. They all have tourism boards. They all want you to spend your money in their state, so they have all that stuff free,” he almost drooled over the prospect of sending for more pamphlets. His days would soon be filled with more pictures of distant places. Spots he had spent a lifetime envisioning while milking placid cud-chewing cows in the bitter Wisconsin winters, and while riding high atop a hay wagon pitching bales skyward to the next level, sweating profusely in the sizzling summer sun.


“I thought you said we could go home this year.” The words came slowly as if drug from the very depths of her soul.


“Home? Home to Wisconsin? Are you crazy woman? Life is in the living, not in the sitting,” recited Leland. “Why on earth you’d want to spend another hot humid summer in that state is beyond me. Cool ocean breezes. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Let’s do it, Gracie, let’s let ourselves wade in the Pacific, watch dolphins and whales. Yeah, did I tell you that one? The brochure said there was a beach where you could watch whales swimming right off shore. They even have a beach with seals,” his voice warming to the subject, he once again launched into a full description of the many and varied attractions all to be found in sunny California.


The timer on the oven began its insistent dinging, calling Grace back to her task at hand. Opening the small oven door with her large oven-mitt, she could see the muffins had come up full and perfectly golden. They had just begun to pull away from the muffin tin. As the oven door opened, the room was flooded with their light spicy cinnamon aroma. Grandma Iris would be pleased, Grace inwardly beamed.


Giving the omelet pan a slight swirl, she assured herself it wasn’t sticking and put the heavy glass lid over the mixture to allow it to cook and rise. She prided herself on her light fluffy omelets. Everyone wanted to know her secret. Her secret, she knew, was so very simple, a sprinkle of cream of tartar in the mix. Something every McAlester woman knew from the time she could see over the countertop--maybe even earlier, she smiled.


Leland’s voice sounded something like a fly buzzing, or maybe, she ruminated, like a mosquito that invades the bedroom at night with its high-pitched whine assaulting your ear in the darkness. Her knuckles whitened as she leaned on the sink edge wishing she could stop the never-ceasing drone. He was definitely on a roll, she thought, shaking her head wearily, shoulders sinking with her sigh.


She raised her gaze from the child-sized sink to her lovely flower box in the window sill. One thing the man got right, nodded Grace with approval. The box had been his attempt to meet his wife’s complaints over her lost herb garden and flower beds from the farmstead. She reached out now and lovingly caressed the light purple flowers on the chives.


“Leland, I just can’t do it,” Grace drew herself up and braced for the reaction to her announcement.


“Can’t do what?” Leland’s voice rose an octave. “Can’t sit in the damn car and look out the window? Can’t lounge around motels and sit pool side in the evenings? Can’t eat out at fancy restaurants and dress for dinner? What the hell can’t you do? he demanded, his voice continually rising with each query.


Never turning, she knew his face would be beet red by this time. She didn’t want to see it. She wouldn’t look. It would drain her resolve.


“Please, Leland. After last year’s trip up the Alaskan highway, you promised we could go home this year. You said we could take the camper and stay in the park near the farm. I could cook for the kids. The only time we get to see the grandkids is in pictures in our email. They’ve grown so,” she implored. “You know you’re their favorite grandpa. Don’t you want to see them while they’re still small. Soon enough they’ll be grown and won’t want to have anything to do with two old people.” She turned irresolutely hoping she’d see some sign of him weakening.


There Leland sat, face fire red. “That’s hitting below the belt, Grace!” he boomed. “Bringing the kids and grandkids into this is just not right. We can fly home for the holidays like we did last year. One week with that crew is enough. Good Lord, woman, you spent thirty years plus raising that wild bunch. Why in the world do you want to spend what good years you and I have left raising another set? You know damn well that’s what would happen. We’d been there for one hour last Christmas when Delores asked you to watch the baby for Christ’s sake.”


“Leland, she hadn’t been out of that house for weeks with Tammy Lee sick with chicken pox. It was all she could do to get ready for the holidays, what with shopping and cleaning and all the farm chores. You know she doesn’t have children yet with any size to them. She has to fill in the chores for Mick when the summer hands are laid off.” Grace poured out the defense from all the years she had done the same, and been glad for Grandma Iris, and her own mother Ida’s helping hands.


“Just the same, she’d do it again in a New York minute, summer or winter! Never saw a woman so anxious to get to town. Don’t know how Mick took up with a city girl. Told him right off it was a foolish move. Love my ass,” Leland snorted, settling back into his kitchen chair in a huff, arms crossed defensively across his heaving chest.


Grace searched her husband’s face for some sign. Something that showed he’d heard a word she’d said. That he might feel something she felt for her home, her lost life. Of her being trapped inside this “senior housing” unit that she referred to as a gerbil cage. The reddish purple had worked its way down Leland’s neck to his chest. She could see the veins swollen from his brow to his shoulder. There would be no home visit this summer.


Turning back to the stove she realized she’d almost allowed the omelet to over-cook. Hastily she grabbed the oven mitt and removed the glass lid, skillfully cut the omelet in fourth’s with the spatula edge, and flipped each section. Reaching over to the tiny counter, she retrieved the shredded cheese and scattered it across the surface of the overly brown omelet hoping once melted Leland wouldn’t see the dark surface. She was ashamed she’d allowed herself to be so distracted from her task.


With his wife’s back to him once again, Leland opened his arms from across his chest. He knew she’d say nothing more about it. He’d won. He’d have his trip. Her stiff back robbed him of any sense of victory.


Grace brought the muffins, now cooled, over to the table and returned to the counter, her haven. Leland reached for the muffin and broke its golden top open, smearing it with heaps of butter. As his teeth sunk into the soft tender meal, its aroma still filling the small room, his muscles loosened and so did his anger.


Sheepishly he began to coax her. “Come on, Gracie, old girl. Those kids are doing just fine. And we got lots to see and do together, now, eh? Tell you what. You don’t want to make the drive, right? Well, fine. Let’s fly out, eh? That’s right. We’ll fly out and lease one of them economy cars from one of them easy rental shops. Hey, there’s lots to do right there in San Diego, we don’t need to do the whole cross country trip if you think it will tire you too much.”


With each seeming “concession” Leland grew more animated. He was, after all, a reasonable man, a loving husband. “We’ll have a helluva time, Gracie gal, you’ll see!” And with that he piled into his next muffin warming himself to the task of getting the best airfare rates--more brochures and a trip on the internet were going to be the order of the day.


Grace brought the omelet over and placed it on Leland’s plate and returned to eat her meal at the counter as she had done for more years than she could remember. She watched the sun dance on the leaves of her parsley plants.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

SINGULAR SATURDAY

Jenn in Holland inspired me a few Saturdays ago to join in on her: Singular Saturday. So here’s this Saturday’s “singular”:

RECUPERATION

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Grand Finale--NaBloPoMo 2007!

Here we are, November 30th, and here’s my last entry for the month. This has been FUN. And as much head scratching and such as I went through a day here and a day there, I have to say, it really has been exhilarating coming up with each entry, all month long.

BUT--the REAL FUN, has been reading everyone else’s daily entries. This has been a blast. It has afforded me a wonderful opportunity to get to know so many of you, and really see you in action! Coming up with such interesting, comical, insightful, caring, learned, inquisitive, captivating, revealing topics--and so much of it truly showing YOU in all your variances, shades and nuances. Talk about showing your true colors when the pressure’s on ;-).

With the holidays dead ahead, I’m sure everyone will take on another rhythm of publishing your blog entries. And, for me, this is all new, and all great fun. I’m not sure how I will work this out through the holidays, but I know I’ll get great ideas and see wonderful examples by visiting all of you throughout the season.

Thank you, one and all, for sharing yourselves with all of us throughout NaBloPoMo. It certainly has brought me a long way in understanding blogging, and seeing its potential. I’m SO looking forward to the coming month, sharing the holidays with all of you.


And don't forget: January 10, 2008

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Word to the Wise (in fact, a whole book of words!) . . .



Soccer Mom In Denial recently shared an article she’d read on “Young people reading a lot less” found in the Boston Globe. Jen of a2eatwrite joined in, and soon “Day to Read” was born. The article AND a number of our blogging buddies have built wonderful arguments for reading--and have declared January 10th, 2008, as a day of rest--from blogging, and a day to hit the books/magazines/papers--in short, READ something. Then they suggest we all reconvene the following day and report on what we have been reading.

They have also suggested that between now and that date, we read more and share what we’re reading, helping to promote reading along the way. If you would like to add your two cents to this, please send to SMID or a2eatwrite for the button--display, and talk it up!

Please visit SMID, a2eatwrite, GF’s and other sites today for their great endorsements of reading!

My own contribution is to share with you about my first reading experiences. My mom was a working mom, a registered nurse. She often worked split shifts, weekends, third shift, etc., so our time together was often scarce. So at some point (my mom, dad, and family in general were all avid readers), my mom suggested I bring home a book from the school library for us to read together.

Each noon when I came home for lunch, Mom would get up, fix our lunch, and then we’d get out a book--first I’d eat my lunch while Mom read to me; then she’d eat and I’d read to her. This became a “regular” lunch habit for the rest of my elementary life.

The first book I brought home was Cotton In My Sack. After a seventh reading, Mom suggested I find another book LOL. So the librarian suggested Charlotte’s Web--another instant “fav” and ran for another seven or eight readings before Mom was begging me to find yet another book. Hey, when I find something I like, I REALLY get into it! Still do.

These books led to reading Madam Curie, Florence Nightingale, a whole host of what became my “heroes”, my examples of excellence. They became a part of how I wanted to see myself.

So, what are your first memories of reading and the book titles you loved? Share your “fav’s” with us, and help promote “Day to Read”.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Whimper not a bang . . .

It’s almost November 30th, I can see it, just ahead of me is the end of NaBloPoMo. I had wanted to end it with a bang. However, today I received a call from the nursing home, and I needed to head in to Waterloo (an hour plus away), and take Mom for x-rays--a possible fracture in her wrist/hand. That let me know, the rest of this week was probably going to be on the road and in doctor’s offices, not blogging.

Bless my mom’s heart. For 98 she endures these things with great stoicism. It’s no fun outside, getting her from point A to point B, as it only got in the teens today, and the wind was really piercing every time it hit your exposed skin. But in and out of the car Mom went, in and out of wheelchairs, in and out of waiting rooms . . . Not a whine out of her--but quite a few heavy sighs.

Funny thing is, she kept saying how sorry she was to put me out. What a silly goose. She’s the one in pain, she’s the one having to put up with all the poking, prodding, being hauled out of low car seats and everyone meaning well, but having to take a hold of the “bad” arm to try and get her up and out of the seat, arms pulled in and out of coat sleeves, etc.

Me, OK, there was a lot of hauling, pushing wheelchairs, trying NOT to put stress on her “bad” arm, walking from one end of the hospital to the other and then over an extension to the doctors’ office complex--and then back again to get X-ray pictures, and then back to the office, and then back through to the entry in the hospital to get the car . . . all the while pushing the wheelchair (and dear Mom having to be hauled).

Yes, I went through a lot, but my hand isn’t fractured, and I’m not 98. There will be two more days of doctors and tests (her shortness of breath is worsening, and the meds don’t seem to be holding her condition, so the doctor said as soon as the hand is set, then she wants her in for tests). At least Mom will have her hand immobilized, and we won’t have to be concerned we’re twisting it or going to break it worse than it already is.

Because they want Mom in the doctor’s office by 8 in the morning, I’ll be up at five getting ready for the trip in, and will have to leave at least by 6:15 a.m. for the commute. This is going to be a short night, and a long day tomorrow. Then at least on Friday I won’t have to leave home until about 10 a.m., but that will be the day of some heart testing which will include a stress test--very hard on Mom.

I’m not whimpering, but this isn’t exactly the bang-up way I wanted to end this writing month. I’m going to make two more posts come wind, rain, or hail! By Saturday I’ll hopefully be around to read and respond to everyone’s blogs. Please put up with me, I’ll be back!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Salad Forks

If there’s any doubt the holidays are in full swing, there’s evidence right in my kitchen. We’ve just come out of the first “round” of the holiday season, Thanksgiving. And there isn’t a clean fork available in the kitchen other than a few salad forks. Now we never use the salad forks for regular meals, only for . . . Well, we just never use them. BUT, after every fork has been dirtied, and there’s still food requiring forks, a person will reach in to the kitchen drawer and bring out a salad fork. Ours are short, stubby little things no one enjoys using.

Now I have place settings for twelve--and there are only three of us living in this household. Even with company, generally my cousin, there’s only four places being set and used for a meal. And that would give a minimum of three meals before getting to the salad fork necessity stage. Then, of course, if it weren’t being used for meals, but desserts, well, then it’s usually one fork at a time, and could last longer than the minimum three meals.

And if a person is being diligent and frugal, he/she CAN stand at the sink, put some dish soap and hot water in one of the bowls that also needs to be washed, and quickly wash up a few forks, thus staving off the task of washing the entire dirty dishes for a bit longer--possibly until the next morning if a few plates and bowls are washed along with the forks.

Of course, eventually it is a fact, the dishes have to be washed. I mean, after all, you can only eat so many frozen pizzas (which require little in the way of forks, or anything else), and re-heating left-over items--and you must face it, the holiday is over, and reality sets back in--dishes must be done every day.

No, a dishwasher wouldn’t help. You still have to load it, turn it on, and unload it. And with twelve place settings, our household can nurse that process out for days if we apply ourselves. It might require getting down to eating breakfast cereal out of a Ziplock disposable container--but it can (and has been) done.

Ah well, the holidays are rare occasions. Normally dishes are done every day, and sometimes when I am not working, I even do them after each meal. But with twelve place settings and three people who work different shifts, so most meals are quite often eaten singularly during the week, the question is WHY would you do the dishes after every meal? It just isn’t efficient.

If they ever make a truly GOOD disposable fork . . . Ah it is but to dream . . . It could be like the holidays EVERY week!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Home Stretch

NaBloPoMo has informed me via e-mail that this is the home stretch. As if I didn’t know this LOL--wow, I can feel the burn! ;-)

I must say, I’ve had a blast all month long. Considering I “joined” blogspot and began seriously blogging only, what, three days before choosing to join NaBloPoMo, I had NO idea what I was going to come to for this--and really very little idea what I’d come out of from it.

BUT . . .

This has afforded me so many wonderful opportunities to get to know all of you. I want to thank all of you who have dropped by, read and commented. Your caring and sharing has kept me going, kept me encouraged, kept me focused.

Also, visiting all of your sites, reading your wonderful entries, and reading all the comments left by everyone on your sites--well, it’s been one big coffee klatch all month long. What a great way to get to know all of you!

I’m having way too much fun, and find myself running to the computer to get to everyone’s posts, just so I won’t miss out on all the good “visiting”--you’re all very generous-hearted the way you are willing to share of yourselves. And so many truly gifted writers here too--my, you’re keeping me on my toes.

There’s so much inspiration on all of your sites, I’m almost ready to see if I can figure out how to download from YouTube so I can participate in Music Monday LOL--you just all have so much fun, I want to jump right in. Of course, not sure anyone will want to hear my choices, but there’s always the opportunity to “click” on out of the site.

OK, I won’t wax on and on, but suffice it to say, I’m glad I came, glad I joined in, and SO glad you’ve all welcomed me and encouraged me! Thanks again, one and all.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Soap Opera Sunday



Soap Opera Sunday This is my first time participating in Soap Opera Sunday--It was introduced by Brillig and Kateastrophe, and is being hosted this week at Brillig's blog. OK, here goes.



Why am I out on this ledge? What was I thinking? I’ve heard them say from this height the people on the sidewalk look like ants--but I never expected to be up here looking down and find out they were right!


“Clara, girl, you’ve got to come back by me, just ease on back and we’ll climb through the window."
“NO! Charlie’s left me I tell you. He thinks I’m fat. He thinks I’m a wimp. There’s nothing left for me. Just leave me alone. If you try to touch me, I’ll throw you off this ledge with me.”


Clara’s tears ran down her cheeks as she shot each sentence at me in staccato bursts. I could feel the shock of each statement as it hit my guts. And the worse thing about it was, what was hitting my guts was the sense that I shouldn’t be out here with this deranged woman--friend or not.


“Baby, what are you doing out there?”


Charlie’s wail came rushing past me as he stuck his head out of the window to my immediate left. I jerked my head first to Charlie, and then back toward Clara to see what her reaction would be. The head “jerk” was a wrong move as my body momentarily swayed away from the building. I felt a bit of my lunch come up in my mouth and had to swallow back the acid-drenched morsel which then scorched my throat on its return trip to my stomach.


“YOU ASSHOLE. What right do you have saying anything to me about what I’m doing? You’re the one out playing footsies with Doreen. You’re the one who told me I was a fat cow. You’re the one who said I wimped out on my diet. And you have the nerve to ask me what I’m doing?"


As Clara increased in volume with each new “you're the one” clause, she also took a step back toward me, the window, and Charlie. I could tell the look in her eyes. She’d had these blasts of remorse and recovered indignity with Charlie before. After the suicide attempt came the boxing of ears. But in the past this had taken place indoors, or at least on even ground--lots of ground, not on a barely one foot wide ledge twenty stories above ground. Maybe I’d been between them before, but I’d had plenty of room to step aside. Now I had no where to go but down.


“Clara, Girlfriend, kill Charlie later, let’s get in off this ledge first.”


I tried not to let panic hit my voice, but the higher pitch of it was probably obvious to everyone BUT Clara. She was now standing next to me, her chubby arm trying to push me aside and climb over me toward Charlie.


As I grappled with Clara and tried to pinch my fingers deeper into the cement brick crevices, I realized a strong hand was shoving my shoulders back against the wall. It was Charlie. He’d climbed out on the already overly crowded ledge trying to help.


For a dizzying moment my senses tried to record all that was happening. I had sweaty Clara wheezing expletives replete with spittle as she huffed and tugged trying to get at Charlie. There were those large baseball mitt sized hands of Charlie trying to simultaneously grab me and Clara and pull us toward the window. And there was the whirling suffocating sensation of my upper body being ripped away from the cold secure brick. I realized that in that one last frantic moment my entire body was free of attachments, hovering mid-air. The scream that was coming from me emptied my lungs until with mouth still gaping, the sound seemed equally suspended with my body.


Within a few moments, it was all over.


Through the shockwaves enveloping me, I realized I was “sinking” into a huge rubberized air bag, Clara’s arms, Charlie’s legs, and my limbs all akimbo as we fought to right ourselves on the ever shifting surface. With all the hoopla topside, I’d not noticed the arrival of the rescue squad and their inflating the huge air bag. And if I had, I would have thought “no way” would I ever commit to let go of the ledge and see if they’d positioned it in the right spot for me. Or whether I’d snap my neck anyway hitting the bag off to the side.


As the fireman helped me slide off the collapsing mat, I caught sight of Clara and Charlie, locked in each other’s embrace. Their kisses were fervent. Their love-making tonight would be beyond words. Although, at that moment, I had a few words I could have used . . .

Saturday, November 24, 2007

SINGULAR SATURDAY


Jenn in Holland inspired me a few Saturdays ago to join in on her: Singular Saturday. So here’s this Saturday’s “singular”:

FULFILLED (as in: filled full)

Friday, November 23, 2007

In Memory




This handsome naval officer is my dad. I was born when he was forty, and the war was long over. But I was raised seeing this picture on top of the piano, and knew his uniform and hat were hanging in the closet--seeing them always made this little girl’s heart ache with pride for her father.

My dad would tease that the good died young, and therefore he expected my mom to live to be a very old woman. He bothered to end the joke by dying at the fairly young age of sixty-four. I’m sure he walked through the Pearly Gates chuckling to Gabriel, “I told them the good die young”.

A few years after my father’s death, I was in Mom’s basement helping clean out some things, and ran into my dad’s old Navy trunk. In it I found some of his personal items, but much of what was stored there were records from my family’s grocery store. Dad had closed the store and re-opened it as a pet store back when I was three years old. So how and why the records from the store got put in this trunk I do not know.

Among the bookkeeping ledgers I found a stack of white slips of paper. On unfolding them and reading, I found the names of dozens of people I did not know--and a number of names of prominent families from our community. On the top of each paper was written : IOU. I went upstairs to ask Mom what this was all about.

Seems before Dad left for the war, and during the time he was over-seas, many people came to the store, women left without their husbands, children to feed, elderly to care for--but no or little money. Dad, and then Mom, allowed them to write IOU slips so they could get the supplies they desperately needed.

After the war, Dad returned to run the business again--and most of those men returned as well. Of course, there were many men who never returned. Dad just let the slips sit. He didn’t seek the people out to repay their debts, saying they’d get to it when they could. He was just glad God had seen to it the store had been able to stay open and survive--and that he’d been able to return home safe and sound to his loved ones.

Needless-to-say, as I looked through the names, some of the richest families in our community were represented there--and evidently had never gotten around to repaying their debts.

My dad died with a modest amount in the bank. Enough to take care of Mom into her old age. Enough so Mom wasn’t in jeopardy of losing her home, nor going without. But no luxuries particularly--no trips to Europe or Hawaii--no extravagances. Her house was in the same “working class” neighborhood we’d always lived in. And her friends were as mixed and varied as Mom and Dad’s had always been. My father assisted anyone who came to him for help. In a class-oriented, and racially-oriented community, my dad took no concern for race, creed or color--he was a friend and mentor to everyone who sought him out.

And at his funeral, there was standing room only. There were people there in mink coats, and there were people there in tired and worn coats. It, at the time, was one of the few funerals in town that was NOT segregated (the segregation wasn’t because of laws, but because people didn’t “associate” with one another). But all were there, and each one came by to shake our hands, tell us some brief account of how they knew Dad, and what he had done that made a difference in their lives.

Today it has been thirty-five years since my dad passed on.

Dad you are loved and live in my thoughts and in my heart always.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My Interview Questions:

Thanks to jen of a2eatwrite, I have interview questions. And here we go!

1) You seem to have so many irons in the fire--can you tell us a bit about your many hats? (Not to mix metaphors or anything!)

My parents were 40 years old when they had me--so I came into a family where my first real memories and knowledge of what was going on was of parents in their mid to late forties and early fifties. And I cannot remember a time my parents weren’t taking classes, doing course work, improving themselves, and most often “changing hats”. I was raised with the “if you’re breathing you should be learning”, and if learning, then, of course, you’ll be altering your life.

So it has seemed most natural for me to learn, grow, and try another aspect of my heart’s desires, loves, passions. Comedy came naturally. Our dinner table was a time of sharing the
day’s events--and if you couldn’t put some kind of a “spin” on the story--comedy expected generally--then you were surely going to lose the conversation! So it’s little wonder two out of three siblings have done stand-up--and the third is a hoot to spend a dinner hour with.

My dad and aunt were teachers--I cannot imagine not teaching. Writing, my family has a number of published writers--I cannot imagine not telling stories. And ministry--Mom is a lay-speaker in our church, and a counselor by trade--so ministry combines speaking, counseling, teaching, and sharing my love of the Lord with others--I cannot imagine my life without doing all of these things.

2) Of your many wonderful stories, which is your favorite and why is it your favorite?

Which ever one I’m working on at the time. I’m truly not trying to be evasive. I just saturate myself in whatever story I’m working on--it becomes my thoughts awake or asleep LOL. And, therefore, it is my favorite--kind of like every time I make homemade bean and ham soup--each batch is always “the best I’ve ever made”--no doubt because it’s the one I’m eating at the time ;-)

I have to say, I actually enjoy working on short stories, simply because they are “complete” and you can “see” them--novels go on FOREVER LOL--as you know.

3) What is the most rewarding thing about being a minister?

I have done counseling for a long time. Adding in the spiritual aspect is the part that is sorely needed, but not often given in “traditional” counseling. And for me, without God in the equation, you cannot come up with workable nor satisfying answers and means to solve your problems. We are created in the image of our creator--created to BE creators of our world, our lives. Without recognition of who we are and how we work--and from where our real “help” comes--well, this can be a very sorry world, with little hope.

Minister means “to minister” “to administer”--so it’s an act of service to others, administering help for their needs. Nothing is so satisfying than being of service to others--and seeing others come out of despair, come to their own victories in life, it is a reward all its own.

4) How do you concoct a story or novel?

For me it’s a bit of “improve” work. If you’ve ever watched a comedian, say Robin Williams, who allows the audience to “throw out” topics, questions, etc.--and then instantly turns them into “something”, then that’s how I see story telling. If someone throws an idea, question, relates a situation in their life, I read something, hear a bit of conversation at a cafĂ©, etc., then pretty soon something begins to stir inside me.

Of course, not all have enough “juice” for a novel, or even a good short story. BUT, the seed for a story can be found almost anywhere. And the fertile ground that seed lands in is the human mind. Anything can grow there IF you don’t censor it, or put restrictions on it.

At some point, though, to actually create a story, especially of a novel length, you get to the grit of it--that’s the part where you sit down at the computer keyboard, grit your teeth, bite the bullet, and you create your outline, make your Lists, flesh out the background of your characters, etc. You must have a good framework, a working skeleton of the story to hang the flesh, meat and muscle on, and pump the blood through.

Just never let the framework stop your imagination, or allowing the characters to take the story somewhere new or novel--if necessary, you may have to rework the entire premise--but to create something magical, you have to trust your heart, and go with it!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In Ripley's "Believe it or not" division . . .

The one day half of America is on the move--going to visit the other half--wouldn’t you know we’d have our first accumulation of snow here in Iowa. And I was on the move--going to pick up Mom in a town some fifty miles away, to bring her back up home.

Of course, that would have been too easy, it was the other “errands” I’d lined up because I was going in to the “big city” of Waterloo. That’s the part that always gets me in trouble. I feel that after spending the time on the road, the gas, etc., I should kill as many birds with my one stone as possible. So I’d left a number of time-sensitive (bill paying to be blunt) errands to be done today (such as they were DUE today, so I had to get there).

And then there were those “sales”. I had lined up items I had not purchased up home, waiting for the trip to the larger metropolitan area where sales abound on holidays. Normally you can only save so much IF you have to add in the cost of the gas. However, when you’re already making the trip for other reasons, then you don’t have to “count” the cost of the gas out of the sale price. Trust me, I use this rationale and have staunchly stood by it for years.

OK, so now, I have my “list”, my bills are made out and in the purse, a return item is in the purse with sales receipt, suitcase in the car to carry Mom’s clothes back here, empty water bottle to be refilled at the Wal-Mart conveniently along my route to the big city, check book WITH checks in it, and both rain gear and snow gear, extra jacket, gloves, scraper, well, let’s face it, I’m prepared.

I pulled out of the garage, and in the time I had walked out, packed the car, and backed out of the stall, the skies had opened up and what had been a few flakes, now looked like I was inside one of the snow globes. I stopped at the end of the drive-way and began reassessing my LIST!

The first thing to go was taking my son and daughter-in-law’s rings in to the jeweler for their six month check up and cleaning. I pulled out of the drive, turned to the right instead of the left--not out of town, but toward my son’s home. No one was home. Argh! Headed on out of town and used the cell to locate daughter-in-law. She was along my route, and in about ten minutes I handed off the rings and continued on toward Waterloo.

As I drove south and west, the storm intensified. The wind was whipping it up, making some spots almost white-outs. By the time I was about twenty minutes out of Waterloo, I spotted my first police car with flashing lights, and both lanes on my side slowed to a “roll” as we made our way past the cars pulled off to the side. Visibility, even that slow, was so bad I really couldn’t tell if it was an accident--but I saw no twisted metal, so hopefully it was a rear-end “fender-bender”, at least no sirens or ambulances were making their way through to the scene that I could tell.

My LIST was beginning to look pretty much a washout.

And by the time I got to the place to pay my DUE bills, I was realizing how “mushy” the street was under my wheels, and how with any effort to change lanes the car was ready to slide on past a corner, or into the other lane. I parked carefully, walked carefully on the snow and ice packed walkway, paid the bills, minced on out to the car, and called Mom on my cell. The errand running was officially over--I was on my way and told her to be ready.

Now let me tell you if you’ve never done it yourself, collecting a senior citizen from a nursing home is NOT a few minute “in and out” procedure. First you stop at the nurses’ station and sign for her--they don’t let just anybody walk off with your relative. Next the nurse begins loading you up with the medications and giving any directions in administering said meds. Then there’s the packing of the suitcase. And finally there are the hugs and kisses goodbye and wishes for a happy holiday to roommate, hall mates, the woman in the beauty salon, the people in the dining hall, any staff we might meet between Mom’s room and the door out to the car. And the snow just kept falling.

With the motto slow and steady wins the race, we drove safely, albeit slowly, home.

Mom has been just like a kid at camp. She really loves getting to be in a REAL house. Her piano is here--that is such a joy for her to run her hands over her own keys. We ate REAL food, not institution food--and she had all the butter and salt and time to eat food as she wanted. We sat and visited while I made a fresh batch of brownies, and then the family sat together for ice cream and warm brownies for dessert. We did the celebrity cipher from the evening paper and while I was working on clean up, Mom did her crossword puzzle from the evening paper.

I just came upstairs after tucking her in and getting some hugs and kisses goodnight. She was smiling and looking up into my face with such a happy countenance. She is so excited about what the next few days will bring. All four dogs have arranged themselves around her bed, and we have the night light on. I can hear Mom snoring, my hubby and son snoring, and our golden retriever, Daisy snoring--if the beagle, English setter or terrier are snoring, they aren’t loud enough to be heard over everyone else LOL.

I feel pretty good. My loved ones are safe and sound, well fed, and snug in their beds.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow . . .

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Two Days to "T" Day and counting . . .

It’s time to get down to checklists! With less than twenty-four hours to “pick-up” time--going to the nursing home and collecting my mom (clothes, medications, walker, special pillowcase, books, song books, letter writing materials, and all those other things she has rarely used in her holiday stays with me, yet insists on bringing “just incase” LOL)--it is now the final hours for preparations both for Mom’s stay here in the house, and for the holiday feasting itself.

Here in the house, it’s along the lines of “kid-proofing” you do when the grandkids come, and you’re house is no longer set up for “little ‘uns”. With four dogs in the house, who feel compelled to slip in front of you as you walk, ram into you in a hearty greeting every time you enter the house, and fall asleep under your recliner’s foot rest, making it impossible to put the rest down and get out of the chair, well, that is just a whole area that cannot be controlled, nor prepared for adequately. However, for all those other things that can be fixed, there is the list to assure nothing is over-looked.

We recently took up the carpet in the entry room with the intent of putting down linoleum. At present the floor is uneven between the entry room and the living room, which is carpeted.

SO:

#1. A metal piece has to be put down over the edge of the carpet allowing Mom’s walker to easily go over the difference in heights without hanging up nor Mom stumbling.

#2. All extra shoes, work boots, and slippers, must be removed from bathroom floor. (No room for Mom’s walker, nor barely room for Mom with the floor covered in footwear.)

#3. Bake cookies! Mom has a sweet tooth. As she has aged and her taste buds have died off, it takes a lot of salt, a lot of butter, and a lot of cookies and other sweets before Mom senses she’s had anything decent to eat. NO, it’s not good for her. However, she’s made it to 98, and if she wants this stuff, hey, it’s her decision--I’m not her mother!

#4. Put on all fresh bedding. One day early is too early, as three out of four of the dogs feel the extra bed in the house is NOT for guests, but instead is THEIR bed. So until someone comes to use the bed, there will be dogs and dog hair on the bed LOL.

#5. Get all the games out of the closet and downstairs--Mom likes to play games. Yahtzee, Backgammon, Chess, Scrabble, and anything else you want to teach or remind her how to play. She has always liked to play games, and in the past few years increasingly we have to re-teach her the rules and remind her of the strategies--but she still gets a real kick out of playing, and it’s something she gets none of in the nursing home.

#6. Have the piano (Mom’s piano which I brought to my home once her house had to be sold before she entered the nursing home), dusted and the seat cleaned off of all those things that get placed on it when it’s not in use. Mom still plays the piano at least two hours a day, to keep her fingers from stiffening up and to entertain the “troops”, her fellow nursing home residents. She has informed me she’s preparing for the holiday programs coming up at the nursing home and the other nursing homes in the area where she is invited to play. Mom will be the first to tell you, music to entertain IS her main reason for getting up and getting dressed each day.

#7. All those other little things it takes for Thanksgiving, baking pies, making the stuffing, dragging out all the serving dishes that are usually at the back of the upper cupboards and seeing to it they don’t need to be rewashed from just sitting there LOL. Seems there are always things that still need to be done right up to the serving of the meal.

And so goes the list. And here I go to continue checking off the things on the list. Hope you’ve made your list, checked it twice, and have means and energy to fulfill it.

May God sustain us all!

Monday, November 19, 2007

REVOLVING DOORS--REVISITED

Not too far back I had a blog entitled Revolving Doors. In it I talked about my family, a recent baby shower I’d been to, and the span of the family, from 103 years of age, to the baby which was due very soon.

This past week-end we truly witnessed the “revolving door” in operation. On Friday evening, at approximately 11 p.m., our 103 year old grandmother went home to be with the Lord. And nine and a half hours later, at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning, our baby arrived safe and sound.

My what an awesome thing to realize, how the balance is maintained, how both events are to be celebrated. One life that was filled with love, with devotion to God and family, commitment, diligence, and service. And now a new life, promising so much, with his family’s hopes, dreams, devotion and love for him--all there to give him every opportunity to grow and develop and be his own person.

On Wednesday the family will be able to say goodbye to Grandma. They will accompany her one last time to her final resting place. Thanksgiving will be expressed, I know, throughout the service, for all that she has contributed to her loved ones.

On Thursday, our baby will make his first appearance at the family Thanksgiving Day celebration. He will add much joy, just by being there. Everyone will want to take turns holding him. And the first of many pictures will be taken, showing him taking part in his family’s gatherings.

God is Good to our family.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

MARTIAN CHILD

Went to see a movie yesterday. Martian Child with John Cusack and Joan Cusack.

What a heart-lifting story, so well acted. And what I had not known, it was based on a true story, although they fictionalized the characters rather than use their real-life names.

A very young and gifted child actor, Bobby Coleman, plays the Martian Child. John Cusack plays the Sci-fi writer, widowed several years earlier, who decides he should carry through with his wife’s dream of adopting a child (she had been adopted, therefore had wanted to give some other child an opportunity in life). Joan Cusack plays John’s sister (they do that VERY well, and I’m sure being siblings is the foundation of that chemistry).

Adopting any child, especially one that is older (as in not an infant/baby, toddler), they come with their own history, their own baggage. In this case, the child had been abused, had been through several adopted situations and foster-care situations. So he had developed a survival mechanism of believing he was a Martian “on assignment” to learn earthlings’ ways. And then he believed “they” (those who left him here on earth as his assignment), would return to pick him up and take him home.

The story begins letting us see that John Cusack’s character, David, had been an “odd-ball” child in school as well. He had found coping mechanisms of his own, which eventually brought him to his present livelihood, sci-fi writer. He, therefore, had ready empathy as he watched this young boy being segregated from his classmates, and the target of class bullies. He also had a ready and creative attitude in dealing with this child’s “Martian” behaviors--basically accepting them, and showing an interest in learning them himself. David’s attitude of acceptance provides a means for communication into this boy’s fantasy world. He even finds a way to help Dennis (the Martian child’s name), vent his frustrations and rage against this often-times hostile world he feels he’s been abandoned in.

I really don’t want to give away the story. It is revealed so very carefully through the movie, each scene building on the next as this man and boy learn to relate, learn to trust, and come to love one another. My goal is to introduce this movie to you. I’d heard very little about it, except I had been in the theater when they showed its trailer a couple of weeks earlier. But I don’t want you to miss out. It is a remarkable story, and remarkable actors reproducing it for us.

I know if you go, you’ll be rewarded for it. Take some Puffs, but know the tears will be ones of joy and triumph in the end.