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


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 café, 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.


#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


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


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.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


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


Friday, November 16, 2007

Coin-operated Laundromat

Not much has changed. I haven’t been to a coin-operated Laundromat for quite a while. However, after my visit today, I can say, not much has changed.

There was the mess left behind by weary young mothers, who had evidently tried to keep small children amused while waiting for the wash machines and dryers to do their job. And there were the umpteen clothes dryer cloths left floating around the floor of the facility. Also a few crumpled candy wrappers, and several discarded quarter wrappers, all indicating a busier morning than the present slow afternoon.

And of course, there were two out of nine dryers “out-of-order”, and at least one washer “out-of-order” on each side of the machine rows. In all my days of using the Laundromat, I cannot recall a time when all the machines were operational simultaneously.

Today was my obligatory “fall cleaning” of the bedding. I have those comforters on the beds, and those “extras” for changing the bedding as needed. I opted to do the bedding today, safely before Mom’s visit this coming week for Thanksgiving.

Upon entering the Laundromat and seeing the extent of “out-of-order” machines, I questioned the wisdom of my decision. However, I was using the double and triple-sized machines, and they were all up and working. As it was others had shown up before me to use the regular-sized washing machines, and had, therefore, filled most of the working dryers.

By the time my over-sized loads of comforters came out of the machines, I had to leave one comforter awaiting a dryer, while the others began the process of drying. And, as it turned out, the spin cycle on the double-load machines must have been very poor, as water was actually dripping off part of the blanket. I could tell one roll of quarters wasn’t going to cut it; so off my cousin went to the nearest bank to purchase another roll for me before she took off to do a host of other errands.

As time passed, I would occasionally get up to test for “dryness” or to load more quarters into the slots. I continued reading my book. And there were, off and on, fellow patrons coming in to throw their wash from machine to dryer, or if carrying in baskets, they would begin to look for empty wash machines that did NOT have “out-of-order” signs on them, nor were sitting there still filled with wet laundry, awaiting their owners to come and retrieve them.

Gratefully no tribes of wild local natives showed up, replete with gooey little hands covered with melted chocolate, splashing sticky pop across the floor and drying tables, and knowing all the really bizarre things kids who frequent Laundromats with their mothers know to amuse themselves as their mothers turn their backs on them to visit with other women who are more than willing to turn their backs too.

In my young married life I had lived through two times of no machines of my own--so I’d been there with the wild tribes, and done my share of mopping up the gooey and sticky before I could fold my clothing on the tables. I had finally expressed with gusto the fact NEVER AGAIN--and my hubby had taken the hint and purchased brand new machines with VERY long warranties and the ability to purchase extended warranties!

Now when the season comes to wash our comforters, I’m pretty savvy about what time of week and time of day to hit the Laundromat. Today was a good day. Not too messy. Not noisy. I got to the working dryers without much of a wait except for that one last dryer. A minor matter. I got my book read in peace. And even the bathroom was fairly clean!

Now all our bedding will smell and feel good. And it will be another season before I need to return. God is Good to Me!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

HOLIDAY PREPARATION: A week out and counting . . .

I’m saying it’s because Thanksgiving is a week away, because the weekend will have the grocery stores chockfull out the door with shoppers, because there are sales upon sales on all the holiday food goodies. That’s why I brought home a truck load of food today.

My husband said it’s because he told me last night that he will be laid off all next week with only the two days of the holiday being paid--and therefore, I tend to panic we’ll all starve, and load up on food until there are not cupboards, shelves, refrigerator, nor freezer space to hold it all.

Clearly, there is a difference in perception here LOL.

If I were to buy in to reincarnation, I would say I must have starved to death in a number of past lives. The end must have been grizzly, agonizing, painful, and frightening. If there isn’t such a thing as reincarnation, well, all I can say is, I’m one sick puppy, because I have missed very few meals in THIS lifetime without expressly choosing to do so--and I, therefore, have no excuse for this panic buying of food stuffs. Of course, that’s assuming my husband’s assessment is correct.

NOW, a possibly more likely scenario would be, I’m an “impulse” shopper. You put something in those bins close to the register, and it is all I can do not to dump a few of these ridiculous items into my cart. They all look like such “good ideas” and the “deals” are stupendous. Who doesn’t need a really tiny little cute brightly colored flashlight that goes on your keychain? I mean, you would NEVER have thought of it while walking through the regular aisles--BUT, right there, just as you’re waiting in line to put your items on the conveyor belt--PLEASE, it makes perfect sense and a deal at twice the price (Ok, maybe not twice--but a deal none-the-less).

When I got home and my third shift hubby had to wake up and get warmly dressed in order to carry in the Haul--LOL--I found out the supervisors and schedulers had thought the whole thing over, and decided they could not possibly be without my son and husband all those days. We will not be without a good paycheck for next week. My son and his family won’t be over “borrowing” (a quaint term for “Mom, you’re never getting any of it back, after all, you are a mother, are you not?, so you feed the world, right? Especially your first born, etc.???).

Am I dismayed I spent two weeks’ worth of budgeting money on all this food? NO, an emphatic NO! A resounding NO! These items, almost across the board, were on SALE. I had COUPONS! You do not pass up sales AND coupons that can be combined. So the budget will be a little tight for a few weeks. So some of the food is like, well, ten boxes of scalloped potatoes and cheesy potatoes, and two flats of vegetables, and twelve cans of crème of mushroom soup, and it will take weeks and weeks to use it all. It was on sale. I had coupons.

Really, it’s self explanatory, right? Right.

Of course, I am going to have to put some of the canned goods under the bed for a few weeks, but it’s a small sacrifice really.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

SQUIRRELS: Cute or Irritating?

Two years ago I persuaded my hubby to let me buy this old house on land adjoining our own property. It added five town lots to our already seven lots (yes, a whole LOT of mowing!) and our additional ten acres that attach to our property just on the other side of the city line.

It needed major repairs, such as I literally had the family GUT the house to the outer walls, all plumbing, every piece of wiring, everything LOL--gone. And then we began the tearing out walls, and putting up new ones, etc. And when we tore out the upstairs ceilings, a host of mummified squirrels came tumbling out of the loose insulation that had been blown in there who knows how many eons ago. Needless-to-say, we found all the places they’d managed to enter (but not able to get back out from), and repaired those areas.

BUT, the lovely old growth oaks that surround the house, still have many large branches that bridge the gap between tree and roof. And a whole new crop of squirrels run the gauntlet daily from trees to roof, even walking the wiring from garage to roof on the other side of the house.

Having them come to the roof is one thing. But they feel compelled to find a way IN. So there’s a lot of gnawing going on up on my roof! And talk about the Night before Christmas, when all you could hear was the patter of reindeer hoofs--well, these wee critters sound like horses thundering over my roof at a full gallop, when three or four of them get to chasing and cavorting across the many angles and sides of the roof.

It is, however, the gnawing that not only sounds irritating, it IS irritating. This old house needs a new roof. And they are NOT helping! They already broke through an eave area and we’ve had to mend that. And then they chewed a hole out UNDER the mending metal piece. They are SO destructive. How can something so CUTE and furry, be such a menace? They have become Public Enemy Number One around here!

The way the house is designed, there are a number of windows upstairs that are dormers--so the roof slants down on each side of the window. The squirrels come over from the trees with their walnuts and sit on each side of my window (of my office where I sit typing away at my computer keyboard), munching away, looking adorable. I have a front row seat on all this cuteness. And then they finish their nut, and begin to chew on my window framing! Argh! Those little . . .

SO, cute is not cutting it. Some of us have to go . . . And it’s not going to be my family!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

YouTube YouSure?

Not sure how I weigh in on the whole concept of having things put up on the web, and no one getting any royalties for creative property/copyright, etc. But yesterday, after visiting Jenn of Holland’s site, and being introduced to Kristen Chenoweth, well, I had to head over to to find out what else I could about this talented and funny lady.

Of course, once at the site, I found out I DID know her, just didn’t know that was her name in “real life”. But once at YouTube, well, I couldn’t help but do a search and see what else I could find on her. And voila! A host of performances starring Ms Chenoweth. And then that site had other “choices” listed on the side bar--easily clicked on and viewed--which led to other clickable delectable sites, . . . And by sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I’d managed to put in a full evening of GREAT musical numbers from a number of wonderful Broadway hits by talented, gifted performers.

It was magical, it was marvelous, it was exhilarating, it was FREE! So why was it I felt like a voyeur? Why did I have that feeling that I had snuck in through the side door, and hadn’t paid for my ticket?

Probably something about my son, who watches many things he cannot find any other place but YouTube, who keeps saying he wonders what day the whole thing will be shut down by the courts! He also likes to say he wonders if they’ll come and drag all of us users away . . . Yes, that might have something to do with that feeling of “unclean”.

SO, what do YOU think? Weigh in on this. Your vote counts (well, it counts with me). To view or NOT to view, via YouTube and other “free” sites, these often “pirated” performances (I watched one that had actually taped the announcement saying to turn off all electronic recording devices as it was illegal to tape without authorization LOL)?

YouVote, YouTube or NoTube--THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Monday, November 12, 2007


The Writing Game is Here!

This story was inspired by the ideas of Gunfighter of The View from Here.

Story ideas:

Josiah Bell: 18 year old, heir of "Tall Cotton", a slave holding plantation in Prince William County, Virginia, circa 1774.
William Bell: 16 year old hot-head, supporter of the patriot case as the revolution looms large.
Jesse: A 19 year old slave, sent to be the personal body attendant Josiah, that, when the time came, he would have someone to "load his musket".
Prince William County , Virginia .... at the very northern end of what would later become the Confederacy.
The Conflict: The looming fight for "independence" while some people were still held like cattle all around.
[Must tell you, this has launched me into developing a novel based on this short vignette--so know there'll be more to come. Thanks GF!]


Several minutes had passed since the carriage had dropped from view. In its wake, the dust still lingered in the air. Seemingly transfixed, the porch occupants had stood staring at the buggy’s retreat. Then, as if on cue, each member returned to their own occupations. All except Josiah and Jesse, who were both absorbed in their own meditations.

Josiah Bell, joint heir one day to Bell Plantation, continued to chew on the Continental Congress news that their guest had been imparting to his father and other family members over tea. Although no one wanted to say it aloud, a fight for independence was now being called for, if only in innuendos and subtext. Everyone kept saying “reconciliation” measures were all that was being sought. But each and every act the Congress followed, seemed to be taking the colonies a step closer to a call for independence.

Jesse stepped to the side of his young master, just enough to be able to see the field to the right of the road. With no breeze, the dust hung suspended over the road allowing an unobstructed view of the tobacco field. Although it was a ways off, he could see heads bobbing up and down as they worked their way through the rows, weeding and tending the young plants. Finally he spotted the bright red kerchief wrapped around his sister’s head. He watched as she stood, arched her back, and tried to relieve her aches, if even for a brief moment. He felt helpless. Master Bell had decided he would belong to his oldest son. That had taken Jesse out of the field, and put to any task his young master gave him.

The quiet revelry was broken as Willie came stomping out from the house, directing his steps across the porch toward his father, and his remarks to anyone who would listen.

“Steps, measures, all these women do in Congress is talk. It’s time to act. Why do they want to reconcile? We’re making money for the blighters. Why not make it for ourselves? It’s clear King and country could give a crack for the colonies, no more than what we represent in guineas, pounds and shillings.”

His father and brother shot glances between them. Such talk was heretical, and outside of the farmhouse, dangerous.

“Willie,” Josiah took the conversation, seeing his father turn scarlet right through his hairline, “you’ve been told not to spout your mind. Give it a rest. Why do you think we have the Congress? You’ve never fought, little brother, I have. And the men that have don’t want to go it again.”

“Bells have been fighting for eons big brother. Our name means armor bearer for Heaven’s Sake!” proclaimed Willie.

“William, you’ll not be loose with your talk in the presence of your mother,” Josiah Senior‘s voice boomed across the porch.

Willie looked quickly toward his mother and bowed his head. She was still directing the clean up of the tea and had paid little attention to what her son had said. But on hearing her husband’s voice, she had instinctively looked up. As her son nodded toward her, she smiled faintly, nodded back, and then turned back to the task at hand.

“Down south, battling the French and Indians, they gave the slaves their freedom if they’d fight. That’s how important this thing is, and you’re saying ‘keep quiet’ and ‘hush about it’ won’t change a thing. King George has as much said he could do as he pleased with the colonies. Where’s the trust in him when you know he could care a lick?” protested Willie.

Jesse’s attention perked up. Had Master William said slaves were freed in the south, just for fighting the war along side their masters? If his master Josiah was to fight for independence from the Crown, would Jesse be able to fight for his own freedom? He quickly stepped to the side of his master and caught sight of the red kerchief. Could he win freedom for his sister too?

The conversation continued between father and sons. The dust had long settled on the road, and the sun had dropped low enough to lose its intense heat. Camden, the work foreman, had mounted his horse to ride out to the field and see to the field hands. Jesse’s eyes followed the horse and rider. He could hear the droning of the men’s voices. This was not his native tongue, and it took more effort than he could muster to understand all that was being said. So he lapsed into his own thoughts, dreams of a possible day of freedom. Was it true? Was young Master William telling the truth? For the first time in ten years, a spark of hope flickered in Jesse’s weary heart.

To read more stories from our Writing Game, go to: A2eatwrite

Sunday, November 11, 2007


“World War I – known at the time as ‘The Great War’ - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of ‘the war to end all wars‘.”
[taken from: ]

I was raised on that saying “the war to end all wars”. I can remember being told my father joined the service even though he was on the far side of the age for joining--but he had been told by Uncle Sam that this was the war to end all wars, and if he didn’t want to see his son going to war, then he needed to go himself. And he went. BUT, that was NOT for the “great war“, that was for what became known as WWII--so already that saying had been betrayed.

When the local draft hit our community sending off our young men to Viet Nam, my father was still alive. He felt betrayed by his government and grieved that this war had the possibility of taking one of his sons. After all, hadn’t he fought the “war to end all wars” so his sons wouldn't have to go to war?

I realize there are fewer and fewer of our Veterans alive now from WWII. I have one relative left that was in that war. I have never asked him how he feels about these present wars, or whether he feels betrayed that he’d fought the “war to end all wars” but his son had to serve in the military during Viet Nam.

But every year in August, his army buddies and their families still have their Army Reunion, and they continue to say how proud they are of our young fighting men and women. How proud they are to be in a country where the men and women have never faltered in standing in the gap for their country, for their fellow countrymen and women.

It can be contested whether each involvement was/is the wisest or right way to go. However, there is no contest about the commitment these young people make when they take up arms for all of us here at home, and go fight the good fight. May they always know we stand behind them--that we applaud them--that we will help them in anyway we can, and be here to support their loved ones they leave here in our care while they’re gone.

We salute you today!

Saturday, November 10, 2007


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


Friday, November 9, 2007


Subjects I have rejected today:

Rising gas prices (too depressing, not much to add)
Weather (it’s fall in Iowa, it’s cold, not much to add)
Today’s Errands (ugh, not much to add)
Laundry (egad, I haven’t come to writing about that have I?)
. . .

OK, possibly jumping into the NaBloPoMo after only having a blog for three days was a bit presumptuous of me. But I’m going to stick with my gut instinct and I can see where it’s making me push myself, get off the dime, put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard), get organized . . . (you get the point).

Of course, the rest of my life has had to go to the back burner, or at least to the side boards. I’ve set myself to the task by saying I must get this written and posted BEFORE I take on any other task for the day. That is keeping me honest about writing this--but it is also pushing my other chores of the day further and further into the morning (or first of the afternoon LOL). And yes, I do sometimes sit here with my laptop, in my recliner, and get to reading everyone else’s blogs, chuckling, smirking, guffawing, snorting, shaking my head, putting hand to chest, praying--and then writing comments.

Perhaps I’m getting addicted. Each blogger comes to their blog with so much of themselves in tow. I marvel at how sharing all of you are. You’re all so brave. You share yourselves, your thoughts, feelings, creativity, your lives--and you’re all so marvelous! I am amazed every single day by you.

And I’m off . . . Blogs to read, blogs to respond to, and a host of errands to run for my family, or they might get me for MIA. Or worse yet, they might claim desertion while under fire. After all, it’s Friday, and they will want food in the house this weekend and the coming week.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


I was reading in another blog today, Twas Brillig, where she was telling how she came about choosing her pen name. After making comment to her blog, I began clicking on some of her past posts, and found even more about the name she had chosen for her blog ID. She expressed how choosing the name had given her a bit of freedom of expression, using her own name had not afforded her. And also how she now truly identifies herself in this personage of Brillig. Go check out her site, she has some really good stuff, you'll enjoy!

And here I am, just a matter of a couple of weeks now, having taken on Wholly Burble. It is not the only name I’ve worked under that was not my christened name. And I’ve even managed to alter my everyday life name from my christened name, and made it my “legal” name.

In the Bible names MEAN something. When by faith Abram accepted God’s word for his life, God changed his name to Abraham--which then bespoke the very promise God had made to Abram. God had said He would make Abram father of many, that his descendants would be as many as the stars in the heavens and the grains of sand on the beach. So he changed his name to Abraham, meaning father of nations.

Having been raised in the church, and knowing this story most of my life, and having been a story teller and eventually a writer much of my life, names have always held a fascination for me. When I craft a story I realize what play a name is going to have for a character. When I used to do standup, I realized in a short time whether a name was intrinsically funny or a dud. All my life I’ve had a myriad of pets, and it was always a challenge to find the right name for that pet.

Now as I work to become an active member of this blogging community, I am fascinated at all the interesting names each blogger has come up with to express him/herself. And realizing that each and everyone of them is a story in itself--how the name was dreamt up, what meaning it holds for the individual, the images it brings to the front, how others react to the name, and then, how the name and the personage of the blogger evolves over time with its usage, I become even more intrigued.

I hope more of you decide to share how you came to your name, and what it has meant to you, and what you believe it is saying about you. That, I think, would make for some wonderful tales to tell. Later this week, I’ll share how Wholly Burble came into my life.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bowel Movements and other conversation pieces . . .

My mother is 98. I’m 58. Evidently somewhere between these two ages is where bowel movement discussions become important, and daily--much like the movements themselves (one hopes).

Having been around my mom all these years, I’ve been trying to figure out when this topic came to the front in importance, and regularity. I’m a bit unsure. I was thinking it was when she actually entered the nursing home almost three years ago now. But, on further thought, I’m thinking the theme had begun appearing as a daily conversation gambit before nursing home entry.

Now I’m not a bit squeamish. I am not only a mother, myself, but I have done counseling for years. So there’s not much anyone can say to me that will throw me for a loop. However, I do have favorite and not so favorite and some REALLY not so well liked subjects. In rank and file situations, discussions on old surgery scars and hemorrhoids as subjects do rank higher than bowel movements. Call me wacky, but that’s just me.

Last evening I called Mom just to say hello and see how she was doing. It took very few opening pleasantries, until Mom began explaining that for the past two days she had been constipated (if you’re delicate, please, I won’t feel bad, just walk away now--it’s not too late, you can click and be out of here in a flash--this is not for the faint at heart).

She said it had gotten so bad by the second day, she was having quite a bit of pain in her abdomen. It finally woke her in the middle of the night, and in she went to the bathroom to see if she could work something out. After a few minutes of groaning and such, the bathroom door opened a jar, and a nurses aid stuck in her head to see if Mom was OK. Mom told her the problem, and the aid said she’d go get the nurse and see what could be done.

In a few minutes, the door opened wide, and there was the male nurse. Mom looked up, and exclaimed, “Oh Not YOU!” At which he said he was sorry, but yes, he was the only one on duty, and asked what she needed. Reluctantly she explained her situation.

As he began to put on his plastic gloves, the entire vision and personal horror of the situation hit Mom, and she gave it, against the pain, one more hard push. And, Eureka, everything from two days, flushed on out, with sound affects and wild abandon.

Mom looked up at the male nurse, who’s face was recording his astonishment at the present event, and said to him, “You scared the shit out of me!”

Laughter convulsed both of them for a few minutes. At that point the nurse put his gloves back in his pocket and as he turned to go, said, “OK, it looks like my work here is done.”

OK, not a story for the weak in spirit--but I have to say, the best bowel movement story Mom has come up with to date. I hope you’re not flushed, but it just had to be told.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Did I happen to mention that I used to do stand up comedy?

Many many (OK add a few more many) moons ago, I used to do stand up comedy. If I were still performing, it would have to be sit down comedy, as I'm too old to stand in one place that long.

Back in the olden times, when I was a girl, my father told me actresses don't come from Iowa. He told me "nice" girls didn't go into the theater as a profession. He told me the umbilical cord my mother had snipped off at the time of my birth he had picked up and attached to him and it did NOT stretch far enough for me to go on stage nor out of town!

SO, since my dreams of becoming an actress were becoming mangled in all this what couldn't be done, I came up with the alternate career of becoming a singer--another no go; and then comedy. Since my father had been quite the ham and cutup of his day in school, he had more sympathy for this possibility--but again, he said you only would be able to perform in seedy bars, so a "not for my daughter" on that one too.

To further the crumpling of the dream, there were few female standup comics for me to use as role models, or to hold up as "proof" to myself that this could be done. The Ed Sullivan Show was about my only platform to see standup comedy being done, and the bulk of those were men. [Note: For those of you who need to know, I'm talking fifties here and early sixties--if you need to Google the following names, please do.]

Every week the show offered a comedy spot--and predominantly it was filled by men: George Jessel, Joey Bishop, George Gobal, Henny Youngman, a very young Allen King and George Carlin, etc. For women, well, there was Moms Mabley, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, Gracie Allen (of Burns and Allen), and Anne Meara (of Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller). Most females involved with comedy were actresses who did comedy--such as Lucile Ball, Mary Tyler Moore.

But then, when I was 17, I got the opportunity, at school, to present a ten minute speech--it was called a speech to entertain. I turned it into a ten minute standup spot. My teacher was NOT prepared for this. He had wanted us to tell an amusing anecdote from our family life, or something like that--but standup, no one even thought of doing anything like that back in those days, or at least in an Iowa high school LOL.

I pretty much took off Joan River's delivery style--but it was all my own material. It was actually based on using school situations my classmates were all aware of, including a bit about our teacher. I knew that was a risk, but it HAD to be done if I was going to pull this off.

And then it happened. The kids started laughing. My teacher turned red right up through his hairline--but he was laughing. Try as he might to keep from it, he was laughing. By the time it was over (trust me, the more they laughed the more I was ready to do ANYthing, to keep them laughing, so it got "out there" for my material), I had people almost falling out of their desks. I was a hit!

Well, let me tell you, after that, there was no going back. I was addicted. I wanted to have it happen again. Gratefully, Life afforded me opportunities to do standup routines. I didn't have to perform in bars. I didn't have to do anything immoral to get work. Eventually my father and the umbilical cord gave way, and I found myself able to go and do, and live my life. And I have a ton of good memories of those years of entertaining.

Now a days I pretty much do my "routine" any time some poor hapless person gives me a "straight line" in a conversation. I still get a kick out of getting those laughs--perhaps there's a twelve step program for it? HA: Ham's Anonymous perhaps.

Will I ever get up on the stage again and do comedy? Hum, possibly, if they let me sit down.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Life is filled with revolving doors. No sooner has someone made their "grand entrance" than someone else is heading back out the door. We celebrate the arrival, not so often do we celebrate the departures.

In my family we have five members all over ninety years of age. We even have one member one hundred and three years old. Although she is fairly bed-ridden, along with one uncle that is requiring more and more assistance, the other four are all up and functioning, two of them still in their own home, still able to drive their own cars, and all four of them have daily "schedules" of outings, visiting, doing volunteer work, etc. Only two out of the six, therefore, really are ready to go home to be with the Lord--the rest are busy and not thinking about leaving any time soon.

Elsewhere in our family, we have many many new members, all under the age of ten, and one ready to be born this month. It was rather something at this newest "soon to arrive's" baby shower. We had his Great great grandma, his great grandma, his grandma, his great great great Aunt, his great great Aunt, his great Aunt, a number of his Aunts, and a host of "grandmas" from former marriages, along with cousins, etc. It was the going concern around the party to get LOTS of pictures, as we figured this particular gathering of clan elders was probably the last of its kind--that many generations all up and functioning, and having a good time at the party.

So, we have times coming, I think, when we'll be witnessing many departures, going on out the door of life. But then, we've been having our share of new entries, swinging on in, filling our family with new smiles, children's laughter, hopes and dreams. Quite a span of years, quite a remarkable span of "era's" we represent--and all of it, to some degree, you just have to take in stride, even though I'm one of the ones getting closer to the "out" door myself.

Kind of remarkable, kind of exciting, to think about going on through those revolving doors and seeing what's up ahead. Many in our crew have gone on before--so there's bound to be a lot of celebrating when each of us gets there, just like when the new ones come in through this door to earth. I like to celebrate the coming and the going. Much to look forward to on both sides of the door for our family. Although there's always that sense of missing someone, to know he/she is just on the other side of the door, awaiting our entry, well, that's a great feeling.

Thank God, for God is good.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Not sure how it gets to be "that time of year" again--but here we are at the bi-annual event, the changing of the clocks. Whether we've saved an hour, or spent an hour, today is the day we all search the house for all available time pieces needing manual resetting, and call all relatives and friends we KNOW miss this function twice a year to tell them to reset their clocks.

The changing of the clocks always takes me back to the BIG discussion of whether or not Iowa was going on daylight savings time. I was quite young, but the significance of the debate was not lost on me--it was THE talk of the town.

Iowa being basically a rural setting, much of the discussion was farm-based. Many farmers were quite convinced the cows wouldn't know when to give milk, or the chickens to lay eggs. It was NOT considered a joke--it was serious business. And further, how would farmers be able to attend church if they had to be back home milking? It seemed the incongruity of running the farm via the "savings" clock rather than the "regular" clock, was going to be a rather daunting task.

There were documented cases printed in the local paper of terrible outcomes from neighboring states that had already opted for daylight savings time. When all the reports began mounting up, it was enough to curl your hair.

And then there was the "pro" side of the discussion. We would be raking in the harvest of all that saved time. Hours of our lives would have immense opportunities for improvement, hours that would be otherwise lost to us, would be "saved", and summer would become a virtual paradise with all these added hours in our day. As a child, I was rather awed at these speculations. According to these reports coming in from happy partakers in other states, it seemed rather incredulous that anyone would not take advantage of this time-saving device.

Eventually it was voted on. Daylight savings time was adopted state-wide. After the fact, I don't remember hearing any reports of curdled milk, dehydrated cows, or eggs hatching before their time. But there were untold ruffled feathers across the state!

I think the only thing that out-stripped the daylight savings crisis, was the debate on "to fluoride or not to fluoride" the water supply. But that, as they say, is another story.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Singular Saturday

Jenn in Holland has got a new thing going on - Singular Saturday. I checked it out, and it looks like quite a proposition. So here's my "Singular Saturday":


Friday, November 2, 2007


My mom was adopted back in 1909. She had a German and English (and a little Scot) heritage. And the people who adopted her were German primarily--and spoke German in the home. So although Mom had lost much of her ability to speak German by the time I was born, she knew many German words and phrases, and interspersed her speech with them in our home. Without knowing it, I came to school and into friendships, using phrases NOT well known and possibly never heard before. Of course, from my perspective as a child, it was rather amazing that everyone didn't know these words. But then, my friends and teachers would use words and phrases not known to me--yet I picked them up as I heard them again and again.

One of my many favorite family words was CATERWAUL. It just sounds interesting, doesn't it? And to some degree, I think it sounds a bit "like" what it means (although that might come from the way, tone, and times my mother incorporated the word into what she was saying):

cat·er·waul intr.v. cat·er·wauled , cat·er·waul·ing , cat·er·wauls

To cry or screech like a cat in heat.
To make a shrill, discordant sound.
To have a noisy argument.

A shrill, discordant sound.

ETYMOLOGY: Middle English *caterwawlen : *cater, tomcat; akin to Low German kater + wawlen, wrawlen, to yowl ( ultimately of imitative origin)

As an example of how this was used in my home, was when I, the child, whined with that high-pitched little girl's whine, (which my father said was the MOST irritating sound) wanting something, or not wanting to do some chore. Mom would say, "Stop that caterwauling and just go do it." Or "Stop that caterwauling, it's not going to change a thing." Certainly you can see, it was not employed in any manner that would make it a fun word. Yet, I have to say, even as a kid, I thought it was an interesting word. Just nothing quite like it in English (well, except the English-ization of this German word).

And as the Bible points out, the sins of the father go on for seven generations--so too the speech of the house, falls to the next and next and next. . . generation with euphemisms, catch phrases, and those words thrown in liberally from the family's heritage of Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, etc.(hand gestures and body language added for flavor and color as needed). Such is, after-all, the melting pot that is America.

I think our everyday speech needs some revitalizing. The phrases and such that are making it today, such as using the word cool for hot, or just saying "word" with attitude, are these really an expression of YOUR heritage--or are you just imitating what's being said by others to whom it IS their unique expression? Well, just stop that caterwauling, and try adding in some of your family's linguistic heritage whenever you can. It will add flavor to all our lives, if we celebrate our roots through our speech.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


For the past almost eight weeks, my son has been out in the world looking for a job. He had been laid off from his job, with a "call back" label, saying when work picked up, the job would be his again. After three months of living on the lesser pay of Unemployment, and with no sign of his former company calling him back, he began the arduous and unenviable task of job hunting.

The job he came from was material handling and he had done machining. Nothing he has ever done involved sales. And yet, when you go to look for work, what you really need to be is a top notch salesman--and the goods you're selling is YOU.

As I've listened to my son's daily encounters, the finding places that will take applications, the places that advertise, but then all the applications must be made through the state's employment center, the on-line applications now used by the small local branches who are owned by larger corporations, so everyone for all positions must jump through all the hoops of those larger operations . . . I think I was having as many nights of wrenched guts as he was enduring.

And then the call backs began to come in--the ones who said the job was already filled. The calls that set up interviews, set up "walk-throughs", the ones that announced "OK, the Next step is . . ." and then when you've jumped through that hoop" LOL . . .

All the time you're watching the calendar pages turn--the days seem to fly by, you can see the "ending" of the unemployment coming--and still nothing. So you push harder, you go to more places, where no one is asking for workers, but you want to get yourself out there. It doesn't help that we live in rural Iowa--twenty miles to the nearest decent-sized town, fifty to anything really respectable.

The interviews become acid tests--can you sell yourself to this person, today, right now, in the next few minutes--because if you can't do that, no matter how long the interview will go on, you've either "got" that person on your side or you don't! You can see if you have them or not in their body language, hear it in their voice, see it in their eyes. No sale--yes they will call you back with the results, yes, you know it might take a week or more, yes, you already know the answer is NO--you can see the "no sale" sign in their eyes. And when you're not a salesman, you really aren't sure what else you should/could/would do--and now the interview is over, and that door of opportunity has closed.

In my life, I've had to go out there and sell ME. I've never cottoned to it--but out of necessity, I've done it. In fact, I've been fairly successful at it. And in life, I've also been the person conducting the interviews, and felt, with compassion, the situation I was now inflicting on another human being. There was only so much I could do to lessen the angst--it seems inherent.

But watching my son go through it. That has been an entirely "other ballgame". It seems almost as heart-wrenching as watching him let go of my hand and climb up the stairs of the school bus that first day of school. There are things you find early on as a parent you cannot take off your child's plate. They have to go through these things alone. And as I listened to my son's daily job finding adventures, I wondered what I should have or could have done while raising him, to create a self-made salesman out of him---and is that what was needed?

He has been hired. He's now going through the drug screening, physical exams, all the hoopla of finalizing the hiring. It isn't that he has the job of his dreams that has him dancing--it's that the job hunting is over! I thank God for getting him to this job--even with the anxiety of starting a new job and being the "new kid" on the block, at least the selling task is over.