Thursday, June 30, 2011

Returning...

Why do I do this so often?  I go shopping for something to wear... find it on the rack, purchase it, and when I get it home, it's ill-fitting or looks wrong, or something that makes me hate it.  So, back I go to the store to return it for a refund or for an exchange. The reason is  because I despise trying things on in the dressing rooms!

I'm lazy, I guess. I don't like to undress, try on, undress and redress in a tiny box with lying mirrors!  I'd rather take it home, try it on before  my own lying  mirrors and get an honest opinion from my husband about how it looks.  The trouble is, he's a very cautious (and wise) man with his honest comments. He knows that if I've bought the item, I obviously like it. He doesn't want to be negative, even if it's honest, if he thinks I might want to keep it.  But, I've learned that if I am make all the negative comments, he'll either question me about why I say that, because 'it's really pretty' or 'it looks nice on you'....or he'll say, "It's up to you, Love."  Very honest....very cautious... and no help at all!  I always know though, if he really likes something, from his "Whooo,
look at YOU!"  or "Wow!"

So, here I go again today....back to the store to return something. I didn't even ask my husband about this one, as it's easy to know when something is too large. The lying mirrors had a moment of  clarity and made sure that I knew that my ample chest was not ample enough to fill the space in that area of the dress.  Though I could do a few nips and tucks in the fabric in spots, I am not going to do that. Instead I'm going to take my by-now-all-too-familiar face to the return counter and hope that there's someone new working the area! This is getting embarressing!

At least I'm not spending double gas mileage just  to return something that I probably shouldn't have bought anyway. Not today.  I've also got some errands to do, so I'll get those out of the way, and pop in to Michael's for something I need for the Christmas ornament exchange. I'm going to hold on to those returned dollars tightly, because Michael's or Hobby Lobby is my version of the den of iniquity!  Pure temptation at every turn, on every aisle. I must focus....get what I need and get OUT of there!

I will remind myself of these things the next time I don't feel like trying things on in the dressing room. I will look myself square in the eye in the lying mirrors, and I will say, 'Just think of the money you can save by trying on instead of  spending extra gas to make a second trip. You can avoid going to the den of inquity and overspending there.  You will not buy what you don't need! Actually...if you try on, you'll find something you really are happy with right here, today...and you can spend a little more on jewelry or shoes to go with it. You'll still end up saving money!"

Oh, the tricks we play....

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Words of Wisdom II

After finishing the blog the other day about  the wise sayings of my elders, I remembered a number of others....probably many too many for this entry. I thought I'd share those too.

I don't know how many times my mother has said in my lifetime, "Beauty is as beauty does." I always knew what it meant when she said it. I was probably wrapped up in how I looked, rather than how I was acting.  I've come to realize that a beautiful spirit is far more appealing than any face or body that we might consider to be attractive. If a soul is living as one knows is right, peace is evident. Soft spoken, content spirits are likely to be kinder, gentler people. Without kindness and loving actions, there is nothing very beautiful in a  person.

My aunt, who was quite a 'fashionista' used to tell me that you need to 'dress for success.'  While I was working, I always attempted to look my best, be modestly and appropriately attired for the office. I don't know if I truly was more successful in doing so, but I certainly felt better about myself that I did on those days when I was home in my 'grubbies'.

Whenever something was a troublesome situation, my Dad used to say, "this too shall pass." Those words come from the Bible, and are pure truth. Nothing lasts forever on this earth....all things pass sooner or later. It is a verse that gives me hope when I hit a rough patch in life's path.
It only lasts for a little while, and we move on to a brighter day.

Both of my parents have said, as does my beloved husband, "Anything worth doing is worth doing right."  And.. since we cannot know what we would do if we were put into another person's situation, "Don't judge."

There are so many words of wisdom that I've heard in life. The older I get, I think I'm gathering them in my heart. I glean them from the old familiar hymns. I hear their messages in lines from books or movies. My Bible is full of them, but then of course, what is more wise than the voice of God?  The words seem to echo in my ears when I need to hear them most.

I'm grateful for them, and I'm still learning from them.  As another old sage once said, "We are never too old to learn."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Words of Wisdom

On Sunday we attended a bride and groom shower. My husband had never been to a shower before, so he wasn't sure what to expect. He wasn't entirely enthused about going, knowing that he'd know only a very few people there.  I have to give him credit for treading these unknown waters. Even though I told him he didn't 'have' to go with me, he set his feelings aside and went anyway. He's so good about things like that!  He survived...and I think, actually had a fairly good time.

While there, each guest was asked to write something that they'd learned through the years of marriage...words of wisdom. "Never go to sleep without saying I love you. You can't stay mad that way."  "Be slow to anger, quick to forgive. Bite your tongue...a LOT." "Always be honest with each other."  Someone said, " Decide from the get-go who the boss will be." The father of the bride spoke up. "I rule the roost, but I know who rules the rooster!" That brought some laughs, but is also often true!

All this made me think about the words of wisdom I've received over the years from those who were older and had more experience than I did.  In my foolish and youthful years, I often rejected the advice, thinking that I knew better, but as I've grown older, I realize that those who've plowed these fields of life before me, certainly know how to get through the clods and clear the stones that I find myself tripping over.  I've learned that it pays to listen. (My Mom told me that early on in life, but I didn't learn that 'til later!)

Just the other day I remembered something that my mother wrote in my autograph book when I was about twelve years old. It said, "Keep your face always toward the sun, and the shadows will fall behind you."  Being, now, a woman with a strong faith in God, I think about that quote, and think 'the Son' instead of the golden orb in the sky. If I always keep my eye on Him, the things that could be called 'shadows', the problems I encounter, are not so obvious to me.

Another adage Mom gave me was to always look on the bright side.  She said that "every cloud has a silver lining." When something gets you down, look for something good in it. Sooner or later, it will show up, I promise!  She taught me the same thing about people..."look for the good in people. It's there. Nobody is ever ALL bad."  And along that same vein, she taught me that there's little reward in loving those who are easy to love. The good comes in overcoming the urge to run from those who are difficult to love. (That's still a hard one!)

There have been many things said by 'the sages' over the ages. They are repeated, I'm sure, because they are worthy of sharing.  Ears would do well to listen and wise people would reap the benefits of practicing the advice. It's never too late. 

I end this with a question for you...what words of wisdom have you heard, learned from and passed along?  I'd love to know...I might learn something from them!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Once Upon A Time

In the late 1970's there was a time my husband and I call, "the CB Age."  It was a prehistoric communication system created, I believe, by big riggers.  (aka semi drivers or 18 wheeler truckers.)  There were two way radios, somewhat like walkie talkies, except they were installed in
trucks so that drivers could contact the company they worked for, or warn other truckers of all manner dangers on the road. They might also use the CB to contact their family, if they had a set at home. It was more convenient to use than finding a pay phone and less expensive too. It was a pretty useful tool. (More on that subject in another entry on another day.)

I'm not sure how the fad of CB radio using came into being for the 'every day man', but it was, for a time, quite a popular pastime for many in our little town. Some of us had a home station and a vehicle unit, some had one or the other. There were conversations going on all day and half the night, and since it was possible for everyone to hear everyone else, I likened it to an old-fashioned 'party line' like homes used to have. 

 It was kind of a precursor to today's 'social network'. We made 'friends' on the air waves, as well as talked to real friends and family. There were some rough characters on the air now and then, but mostly people obeyed the laws of the FCC.  We quickly learned who we wanted to chat with, and who we didn't.

There was a special language 'adopted' when you picked up that mike to speak. You'd identify yourself by call letters, and then identify the person you wanted to talk to. Everyone had a 'handle',  the equivalent of today's 'screen name'. You named yourself with your own choice of handles, making it up from who-knows-what hobby or for some reason-or-other.  My husband, owner of a tree care company, was called the "Tree Mender". Another who was a lay-preacher called himself  "the Parson."  There was a bleached blond who called  herself  "Blondie", a singer who called herself "Nightengale".  As for me, I was " The Old Lady in The Shoe".

Ok...when you finish laughing, I'll tell you how I got that name.  Are you ready yet?  Ok...just one more guffaw....then stop!  Ready or not...here's the story.  One afternoon I stopped for gas at a local gas station. Those were the days when some teenaged boy or an older man would pump your gas for you. On that afternoon, my big old station wagon was packed with my four youngsters, as well as my friend with her two children. I got out of the car to ask the man to check the air in the tires when he was finished pumping the gas.  I guess he took note of the number of little heads in the car and that I had a round, basketball belly with Baby #5 riding safely inside.  He tipped his hat back and grinned and said, "You don't, perchance, live in a shoe, do you?"  And that's how the name was created. Nothing romantic or creative, but very appropriate considering our full house!


There is one of those old cronies who still refers to me using that handle, even though my babies are grown with babes of their own. Every once in awhile when I think about it, I wish we'd been able to buy a shoe-shaped home in Pennsylvania which had  been built the year after I was born, as an advertising gimmick by a shoe salesman. That might have been fun....but I think we'd have had to build another, to make a pair, in order to accommodate our brood!  Can't you just see it now?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Doctor Visit

On Wednesday I had a doctor visit. It was a routine, annual physical, nothing serious, nothing I look forward to.  But, in my book, it's a MUST DO.  I believe in taking care of myself and check ups and mammograms are a part of that for me.

When we moved here, I had no idea how to go about finding a doctor. So, I asked our friendly and helpful insurance representative, who was volunteering all manner of things we should know about as new residents.  She tipped me off to the doctor that she uses, so we wrote down the phone number for future use.  As it turned out, Cathy's doctor had a full house, but he had an associate with him who could see us.  In my estimation, it was a stroke of good luck!

Dr. S. is a well-trained, friendly physician with the same religious convictions that I have. He's a joy to visit once a year, though he'd love a bi-annual 'date', when I protest, he says, "Well, you're a healthy woman in pretty good shape, good chemical workup. I just want to be sure you stay that way."  Well, so do I, but at this point, if he doesn't insist on two visits annually, I won't go but once!

Wednesday was my day this year. I reported at the desk a little late, 9:15 instead of nine, thanks to some unforseen traffic problems, but it wasn't a big deal to the lovely ladies who do the paperwork. After a short wait (about 5 minutes) I was called into the office. You all know the drill, blood pressure check, temperature check, weight (UGH) check. Then...off to the other office for the actual physical, the good old yearly female thing, an EKG (routine with this doctor) and a good once-over.  Dr. S. and his nurse and I had discussion this time about my 'good genes', talked over our agreeable thoughts about botox and fat removal, (aka 'aging ungracefully) a few silly jokes, and lots of question/answers.  At precisely 10:30 a.m., this happy patient paid the bill and walked out the door.

It may not be my favorite way to spend an hour, but I feel that I'm in good hands. It is good to be comfortable (well, as comfortable as possible with your feet in stirrups) with your doctor. It is good to know that he has time to answer questions or concerns, even if they are regarding my husband or my mother, during my own visit.  (Suffice it to say that they are true concerns, or I would not bring them up during my visit! Dr. S. doesn't mind, but I would never abuse his willingness to ease my mind.)

When I got into the car, with an appointment card for a January appointment (ok, he won. I will see him twice next year...so I guess I'll be twice as healthy, huh?)   I smiled at the thought I had on the drive to his office. I couldn't say it after he asked me to return in six months. What was it I'd thought I'd say? "Bye, Cliff...I'll see you the same time next year!"

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Random Thoughts

This week has passed so swiftly and I've found myself wrapped up in much busy-ness.

We were away most of last week, returning home on Tuesday. That always means unpacking and putting away, at least one load of laundry and other catching up to do. It's bill-paying time of the month, and since I like to pay them as they come in (all 4 of them!) I had to sit and write checks.  The water bill jumped from the usual $22 to $69. That was due to a mistake my husband made, going to bed and leaving the sprinkler on all night, so it ran for 12 straight hours from start to finish!  Ack! I don't care as much about the size of the bill as much as I do the wasting of water, but what's done is done, and I'm sure our plants are happier for it. We'll have to make an effort not to make them quite so happy again, though! 


Our friends' daughter is being married in September, and a bridal shower is on the calendar for tomorrow. That means that I had to shop for a gift from us and one from Mom, who is invited as well. Then I made the cards to accompany the presents.  We're invited to another wedding in July, a couple in our church who we don't know at all. We're not sure what to do about gifts or even if we'll attend, but it's on our minds.

Our church is having Vacation Bible School next week and I was asked to prepare a craft item for that. It's almost finished, and I'm not happy with it, but it's what I was asked to do, so do it I did!
And speaking of crafts, one of the online groups I'm a part of is doing a "Christmas in July" ornament exchange. I've still got a few more of those to do, and then it will be time to get them in the mail. I can't wait to see what will come my way in a few weeks!  What fun to exchange crafts with new friends!


I'd so love to be at the beach in this heat, but we'll wait until Fall before we head for our first visit to the SC coast. We'd like to see Myrtle Beach, but not at tourist time! We've never been to Charleston, so we'd like to tour that city,too, while we're over that way.  I'm sure that we will come home with one of those famous grass baskets that the Gullah people in the "low country" sell!  I love local crafts and folk art.  http://savannahnow.com/coastal-empire/2007-07-27/centuries-old-basket-weaving-tradition-sc-threatened

I need to get busy and wrap these gifts, and finish the project for VBS.  I'll see you all tomorrow, or as we used to say in the days of CB communication, "I'll catch you on the flip-flop."  'Til then, be well and keep smiling!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Favorites

A fellow blogger mentioned her favorite sounds, and asked what her readers were. It led me to think of the other senses...and I decided to write about my favorites today.

There's nothing sweeter, in my opinion, than the smell of a tiny baby when it curls up under your chin. The freshness of it's skin.

The smell of chocolate chip cookies baking.... well, any cookies baking!

The fragrance of new rain on the grass...

The smell of newly-mown grass.

The scent of honeysuckle on the muggy night air.

The salt-air before a storm.

My favorite sights:

A sleeping child...

Dusty sunbeams filtering through tree leaves

Silent snowfall

The American Flag against blue skies with puffy white clouds

A neat flower garden

My husband's sparkling,mischievous eyes!

My grandchildren! 


Another day will bring other favorites.  What are YOUR favorite smells and sights?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Precious Moments

While away these last few days, I was living precious moments with my daughters families. We shared a Father's Day celebration with our men, and ate a lot of cooked-out food! Perfect!

One afternoon, my hostess and I were talking and before we knew it, we'd each shared a few important memories. Her's was one where a student came to her at the end of the girl's senior year, to 'say goodbye.'  Erinne told her, "not goodbye, it's 'I'll see you later'."  The former student said she was going to study 'music therapy' and she sang "I'll Be Seeing You" to Erinne at her departure.  It was a memory that my daughter holds dear.

Her relating of the story, and the words, "music therapy" led me backward in time to 1997.  My Mom was in the Stony Brook University Hospital following a serious car accident. Every night when I arrived in her ICU room, and later when she was moved out of critical care to a regular room, I spent the visits singing hymns to her as I brushed her hair and braided it for the night. The singing of the old familiar worship songs calmed her spirit, and helped her settle down for the night.  When she was moved to the rehabilitation department in another hospital a month later, I saw no reason to change the 'therapy' of singing hymns.

One evening, one of the nurses stood outside the door listening as I sang. She came into the room, telling me that she had enjoyed my soft voice which was so comforting. The nurse, it turned out, was very compassionate, and she was a Baptist minister's wife.  She asked if I would mind going across the hall to sing to a baby in the long-term nursery.  I was glad to do it.

She led me to an isolette as she introduced me to a three month old baby who suffered from multiple, serious physical problems. Her little life, for as long as it would last, would be plagued with surgeries and procedures. As I gazed at the wee thing, I was struck by her bright blue eyes and the carrot-red, downy crop of hair.  Her eyes were 'shivering', unable to stay still while she looked around what she knew as her world.  She didn't have many visits, not even from her mother who had four other children at home. I wondered if she was loved or if she was a burden.  I asked the nurse if I could touch her, and I was shown just where  I could stroke her with a gentle finger.  Then the nurse busied herself in the room as I spoke softly to the frail baby.  I said a silent prayer over her, and asked the Lord if He would protect her and find her just the right care so that she might live a long and healthy life.

And then, I started to sing, and the baby turned toward me and lay very still as I softly sang to her. "Jesus loves you, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong, they are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves YOU. Yes, Jesus loves YOU. Yes, Jesus loves YOU...the Bible tells me so."  (changing the words from Jesus loves ME to Jesus loves YOU.")  It seemed right, since perhaps she wasn't loved enough by anyone.  I sang the verse again and again, and as I did, I thought, "how can she be left here, all alone, poor little thing?" and tears rolled down my face.

I thought that I would sing to baby Marissa every night for as long as Mom was in that hospital, but the next night when I went, the nurse/minister's wife told me that she'd received a 'tongue lashing' for allowing someone into the nursery 'right off the street'.  She was told that I wasn't allowed to go in or to sing to the baby again.  I understand the rules, and the whys of them as well, but I could not help to feel my heart sink.  

There are times when someone comes into your life briefly and engraves their name or face upon your heart for life.  It seems that Marissa has done just that. I don't know what ever happened to that little girl. I don't know if she ever went home, and if she did, what did she go home to?  She'd be fourteen years old now, if she's been granted health and care enough to have seen that many days.  I wonder.... and there are times when I wonder why I didn't ask if she was available as a foster child or an adoptive one. I wasn't in a position at that time to stop working and stay home to care for her the way she would need to be, but I sure could love her! 

I don't know why I was introduced to Marissa...or why she was taken from my life as fast as she came into it. All I can do is pray for the precious red haired child with the bright blue eyes and to know that I placed her into the hands of God. We had a short meeting, a serendipitous one... one of my most Precious Moments.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

My Daddy will be gone for twenty-six years this coming Thanksgiving. It's been such  a long time to have been without him. I miss him and his sense of humor.  He was a friendly man to everyone,  warm and congenial. Every one of my friends remembers him that way.

Dad knew how to have fun and he knew how to work.  Sometimes the two things were co-mingled in his doing. I don't think there was anything that he didn't attempt to fix or build himself, even if he didn't have any training to do the job. He seemed to like the challenge of accomplishing something he'd not done before.  He was not a 'master carpenter', but he and my uncle, who worked as a carpenter, built a two room addition with a bath on to our house.  He and my uncle also built a small four room investment home, as well. Then when it was time for us to build our first home, he was right there to help complete the interior.

He and Mom joined a square dance club when I was nearly a teenager. He wasn't much of a dancer, in the regular sense of the word, but he could square dance. He loved it so much that he learned how to become a 'caller.'  He was quite busy, 'renting himself out' to Girl Scout groups and other novice dancers. He taught them  simple dance moves, circle dances and reels, and line dances. Later, when he got better at his fun work, he became the regular caller for a square dance club which met each week.  He did that for quite a number of years, until his lung cancer stole his breath away, making it difficult to call as fast as needed.


I would love to hear some of his silly cliches or his  voice singing square dance calls or hymns.  There was a man at our church with strong, bass voice who sometimes sat behind us in the evening service. I would hear Dad trying to reach as low as Tom did, but I don't think he quite succeeded. He was never quite as satisfied with his own, rich baritone voice, another challenge for him to accomplish, I guess. It makes me smile to think of that.

It's common for little girls to think their Dad was/is the best one ever, and I am no different. After all these years without him, I cannot think of anything negative to say about him!  I can't remember a memory of time with him that wasn't enjoyable. He was a loving husband a fun father to his kids, a wonderful provider.  Though I wouldn't think of him as a 'romantic', he did have some romance in him.  One of my favorite gifts that Mom received from him is a small, smooth, wooden puff heart that Daddy whittled for her and gave to her for Christmas one year.  The rest of the story is this. When the heart was nearly finished, it was somehow lost in his basement shop where he was working on it. That didn't stop Daddy, he just went to work on the second one, which is the one that Mom wears around her neck, and which will one day belong to me.  Something that makes me tear up is hearing Anne Murray's recording of "Can I Have This Dance For The Rest of My Life."  It always takes me back to the afternoon when it was on the radio, and Dad grabbed Mom's hand, and they waltzed together across the living room until the end of the song.

The only regret that I have of my father is that he didn't get to know his grandchildren well enough. He passed away when my youngest was nine years old, and my oldest was seventeen. He was a fun grandpa, though, while they had him, reading  them fairy tales that he would alter along the way, such as "Hinderella and the Pransome Cince". He adored them all, and they loved him too. My grandchildren would have, as well, if he'd been able to stay with us a little longer.

God always knows best, and though I have faith that He does, it doesn't stop me from wishing that Dad could have lived in good health for longer than 60 years.  I miss him.... Happy Father's Day, Daddy. You truly were  the BEST!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's Time for :

A pedicure!  I've never been one to run to the hairdresser or get a manicure 'just because' the way so many young women have become accustomed to doing in the last few years. I've always taken fairly good care of my skin and that includes my feet and my toenails.  I soak them in warm water, do all that pumice stone stuff on the calluses, keep the nails trimmed and shaped nicely. But I'm tired of doing it. It's not very comfortable to bend down for the length of time it takes to do the work needed when they get bad.

It's all my daughters' fault! They took me to have my first pedicure a few years ago as a gift. I never felt so pampered!  I felt sinfully wasteful for allowing them to spend the money for something that I've always done for myself.  Now I have them done a few times a year, taking care of foot care myself between visits to the salon.

I have decided that because I don't spend much on my hair or my fingernails, and  I do all the work associated with those parts of me, that I can afford the cost of the pedicure.  After all, in the years since I was in cosmetology school, I've always cut  and styled my own hair. (Except for three times in the nearly five years that we've lived here.)  I don't color my locks, as I've still got a lot of my own color with threads of natural silver in it and I happen to like it!  I don't need a manicure as my nails are kept short, and I can do the cuticle trimming and filing and even apply the rare coat of nail color.

At any rate, it's been awhile since I've had the luxury of soaking of my 'dogs' while sitting in that recliner with the heated lumbar vibration on my back.  Aside from the fact that my feet need attention, I think I need the lazy hour or so, pampering myself a little.  How does one know when they need to see the pedicurist? My current symptom, as a result of going barefoot for the majority of the time, is some seriously-callused soles at the heel end of my feet. They're so bad at the moment that they sound like velcro separation  when I walk across the Berber carpet!


(These are NOT my feet...but the one on the left, unfortunately,
 looks as if it could be mine!)
I want to walk on a sandy beach, at the edge of the bay, like I used to. That kept my calluses at a minimum, and I had nice, smooth feet.  But, since I'm 900 miles from our hometown beaches, and 5 hours from the ocean in our new state, I guess I'm going to head to the salon and pay for the soft feet!

Do you think I'm spoiled? Maybe I am, but as the saying goes, "I'm worth it !" Maybe I'll even spring for a facial, while I'm there!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Characters...

There's no doubt that I'm a 'people person.' My husband is too, though he's not likely to say so. He says I'm more out-going than he is, and that may be true, but when he's put into a situation where people are, he's wonderfully friendly, laughs easily and sincerely, listens well, and carries on a terrific conversation.

My mother always used to tell me that I would 'collect the oddest characters' as friends. I didn't pay much attention to her then, because she was shy and had only her sisters and a  few friends. I liked everybody.  But as time when on, especially now, looking back, I can see that she was quite right about me. I did have a lot of unorthodox people that I called 'friends.'  Some were pretty quirky but outgrew a lot of that, and are still my friends.  Some were pretty quirky and didn't change while I did. Many of them have parted company with me. I tend to be a friend to the end, no matter what you do, and so I still consider them 'friends' in some obscure way.

Yesterday we met someone who may turn out to be a friend...no snap judgements here!  We stopped at a yard sale, drawn in by some artwork we saw on his table.  It turned out that they were 'cypress knees' ...about 3 feet high...pointed at the top, and hand carved with the most characteristic expressions!  They were wonderfully done, and we would have purchased one, but even the smallest of them was a bit pricey for us, though certainly the time and talent warranted the price. You can see some of  them here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/brucescarvings?order=price_asc&page=1

 The artist was the yard-saler, a short man in stature, but tall as can be in personality! He was a bottomless pit of stories and a friendly character,to say the least. He and his wife had just moved into their new home from elsewhere in the state, but he had originally come from West Virginia.  His accent was a mix of all the states he's ever lived in, so it was quite odd. 'Southern' is the only description for West Virginian, South and North Carolinian and Georgia...with a tiny bit of Binghamton, NY thrown in to make things fair.

He seemed taken with us, and finding that Mike worked his whole life caring for trees, Bruce invited Mike to take a look at one of the ones on his property that doesn't look healthy.  He talked to us as if we'd be seeing him again and meeting his wife, who was at work.  He wants to teach Mike how to whittle and carve, the way he does. Mike's not sure about that, he doesn't think he has any talents. Bruce told him that he didn't know he did either until he started doing it. Now he competes and is a blue ribbon winner.  As for me, I'd love to learn that art! But, the offer of teaching wasn't made to me...it was given to Mike. So, maybe I'll just get myself some tools and go to it!

Time will tell whether we'll develop a friendship with this artist. If so, my Mom might just think we've added another character to the collection!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Circle Letter

After reading on a blog about a 'circle letter', I was intrigued and had to know more. After some investigation, I discovered the way it all works, and I wanted to be a part of one. What did I do? I contacted the women who had responded with "I love to receive letters." or "What fun that would be!" Nine women responded to the idea, and so it was that I started our circle letter.

We started out with a few emails, hashing over the details, letting everyone else know how the letter worked. One would write her letter, mailing it to the second woman on the list. She would add her letter to the first, mailing the letters to the third woman, and so on.  We asked that the letters be passed within seven days, in order to keep the news fairly current. When the ten letters make their way back to the original letter writer, she takes her first letter out, writes a new one, and puts it in with the rest, mailing it on to lady number two...and round and round it goes!

I started our letter off, introducing myself and my interests with some bits of news. Oh, there's so much to say when you are introducing yourself!  But, I kept the letter to the facts, thinking as time goes on, I can be more 'interesting' and detailed.  The letter winged it's way to one of the northern states, and from there, touched base with North Dakota, Texas, Ohio, and some other states far from me.  It made it's way back into my mailbox two months later. The wait was nearly unbearable, as I watched for the mail each day!  I wasn't disappointed!  Imagine reading nine letters in one sitting! What fun!!!


For fourteen years, I've been a part of an email group. We have forged lovely friendships, and to this day the majority of the original eleven women is still solid. We did lose one of our younger ones to a major stroke a few years ago. It caused such sorrow among us, and we still miss her. Another dropped out. We added two more women who knew of us, one was a friend of the one who passed away, the other was a sister of one of our members.  Though we've shifted a bit since the early days, we still remain strong. We've shared joys, sorrows, deaths, divorce, births, grandchildren, concerns, recipes, exciting things and routine every day occurrences. We've even had face to face 'reunions' and individual visits.

It is my hope that the 'Circle' will be as successful as the 'family' of friends in the Garden Gang is. We will see, as time goes on.  The letter is on it's way to the second round, now, and already I find myself tapping my foot as I wait for it to show up again!  I think I may have to find some other ladies who like to sit with a pen and paper, maybe form another Circle....or take them on one at a time. Whether a single newsy note or an envelope full, I'd be happy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 15, 2011

Our fifteenth anniversary!  After five years of dating him, I married my best friend.


I think I remember every detail of that day. We'd decided to be careful with our budget and still have a nice ceremony and a party to follow. Since it was a second marriage for each of us, we wanted it to an appropriate service.  We are not believers in spending multi-thousands of dollars for a blow out, impressive ceremony and reception. We aren't the type of people who need to impress anyone. If my husband had been able to choose exactly what he would have wanted to wear, it most likely would have been a pair of jeans and a short sleeved dress shirt, and we'd have married outside.

I wanted to have the ceremony outdoors, too, but I was a bit fearful of the unpredictable weather. As it turned out, it was 88 degrees, the hottest day of the whole summer that year. It would have been a perfect day for an outside ceremony in a rose garden.  Oh well!  Instead, we chose the little Presbyterian church where my mother had attended in her youth. 

My dress was 'designed' by myself. I knew what I wanted to look like. I bought two patterns, and combined them, making alterations even then, until I came up with the look I'd hoped for. I purchased the fabrics...a soft peach satin and a cream lace and together, Mom and I and began the sewing of the special outfit.  I also made the dress for the flower girl, our little two and a half year old granddaughter.  Since I was doing the flowers too, they were all silk arrangements.

We wrote the service and our own vows. We included all of our seven children in the ceremony...two daughters singing "Grow Old Along With Me" written by John Lennon. One of them was so full of emotion, she cried all the way through it, while her sister sang the duet as a solo! Another daughter read a passage from The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. Another passed the guest book. Mike's sons were ring bearer and best man. My daughter's fiance took many of the photos, adding to our photographer's supply. My son in law and a friend video taped the day.  



The reception was a gathering in a local hall, a simply decorated, too-hot spot. (I'd neglected to think that the day might be hot and didn't notice that there was no central air in the hall!)  Friends had asked what we needed in the way of gifts. Our answer was to please not bring gifts, but if they wanted to, they could bring a covered dish for the reception. Many of them brought delicious casseroles, vegetable platters, etc. to supplement what we'd ordered from a caterer.  Simplicity was the order of the day.

Because we couldn't leave on our wedding trip until Monday, my girls surprised us with a motel room for our wedding night.  They decorated it with rose petals on the bed, candles on the jacuzzi tub, and a cd player with romantic music. (We couldn't figure out how to make it work!) It made me wonder how my young ladies knew of such romantic things!

Though I would make a few changes to the day, knowing now what I knew then, the feat was accomplished and I began the journey of a lifetime...married to my White Knight. That is a change I would never choose!  We are  a perfect fit of two partners who are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep things cheerful and united as we travel  the marital journey over the mountains and valleys into the distant sunset. So far, no complaints!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Letter Writing

Is there anything better than a 'real' letter? I mean one that's gone across the miles via plane and truck ?  I can't think of a better form of communication, unless it's face to face.  I've always looked forward to an stamped envelope with my name on it...unless of course, it's junk mail.

When I was a youngster, back in the days of dinosaurs and cave men, I had my first pen pal. She was ten, I was eleven. We met when she came for a visit to her grandmother, who lived two doors away from me.  Since she was a self-proclaimed "Air Force Brat", she moved around a lot, and when she left for parts of the world I've never see, we wrote letters to keep in touch.  Then, another friend from the neighborhood moved to Colorado. We wrote letters for many years.

Because I like to write, my correspondence was newsy, detailed and long.  One of the above-mentioned gals has always teased me about the details in my letter, especially when I would describe every item of clothing was being worn by whoever I was telling her about.  She said I'd not only give a people report, but a fashion one as well.  (I think I learned that as a result of reading teen magazines where the threads of our favorite celebrities were described in detail. Maybe it was because I was interested in fashion design at the time. Who knows? Anyway, it filled the pages!)

I spent hours writing letters in those days, passing the time while babysitting for many local children who slept as I shared my life.  I loved to surprise my correspondent. Sometimes I'd use pretty papers, sometimes just loose leaf notebook paper, but occasionally I'd write on something unique....like paper towels or long strips of toilet tissue!  At that time in my life, I had a number of pen pals, having added a male friend who was away in Military school and another who had left his job on the British cruise ship where we'd met. He'd returned home to England to have foot surgery and we shared an on and off correspondence for many months. 


As a young wife and mother, I continued to share bits of my life. Another letter writer and I compared notes on mothering of two little girls who were the same age. Our lives were pretty routine, but somehow, communing with someone made it a bit more exciting.  I looked forward to her long letters, describing her life as a pastor's wife in a youth ministry on the West Coast. 

Lives change and we let some things go and add things that we never thought we would. Letter writing became a thing of past as, in 1996, I learned how to use a computer, something I'd always said I would never do. ( I didn't have a choice, as I was working for a computer repair business!)  Letter writing became letter typing as I became an emailer.  Others did too, and my mailbox rarely saw a hand-written envelope filled with news, except at Christmas time.

How I missed it...and I still do!  I've reconnected, via a computer social network, with my earliest pen pals and many others with whom I shared my younger years. It is truly a blessing, but I'd so love to see a letter from one of them in my mailbox like there used to be in the old days.  Some things, like friendships and old-fashioned letter-writing need to kept. Life has enough changes of it's own...and I'm resistant to much of it.   So, I wonder if I can get those early pen pals to actually write me a letter....just for old-time's sake. 'Think I'll give it a try, you never  know, I might be surprised!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Old-Fashioned

Communications!  In this day and age, we have so many options in the field of communication with one another. Computers of all sizes for email and social networks, cell phones for speaking and texting, home phones, blah, blah, blah.  The world 'round is buzzing 24-7 with communications.

While, it's  fantastic that we are able to have such 'instant' discussion with people wherever they may be in the world, do we really need to be so 'instantaneous' ?   It  used to be fun to come home from a day at work, or a vacation, push the button on the answering machine, and discover who's called in our absence.  Now, voice mail is on that little cell phone, and those who choose not to or are briefly unable to answer their cells, are inundated with messages.  For business people, that is a very convenient thing, but why does the common man need to be so 'immediately informed' or bothered, as the case may be. 

Why does every teenager, and many children, need to have a cell phone at the ready everywhere they go? The answer they and their parents may offer is, ' to be able to reach Mom'.  Well, let me say this. I've had a cell phone for only the last two years of my life, and that is used only for traveling or emergencies if my home phone goes off in a power outage. And...I've never had trouble contacting my Mom  (or another person) if I needed help.

When I was a teenager, I was lucky to have a princess phone in my room. I didn't have my own phone number, it was an extention to the home phone. My time on the phone was limited, as others in the house might need to use it. If I needed to make a call while I was out, I'd go to the nearest phone booth. "What's that?," some younger people might ask these days!  It was a conveniently placed, public telephone that you put some change into, made your brief call, and hung up! Cell phones have nearly obliterated phone booths in this country, although I recently saw one on one of our day trips.

During my growing up years, nobody walked around with a silly device hooked on to their ears (unless it was a hearing aid!) People didn't wander through stores talking to someone who was invisible to all as they released their frustrations or told the latest gossip, unless the speaker was somewhat mentally ill. Nobody thought it was a necessity to reach someone "NOW" unless there was a medical emergency.

I've stuck with my determination not to use that cell phone under most conditions. I usually forget to take it with me when I go out, unless we are going on an extended trip, which is what I bought it for. I don't feel that I need another fashion accessory wrapped around my ear; I prefer earrings to something ringing in my ear!  I don't even care much for the telephone at home, usually they aren't someone I want to talk with anyway.  With the current medical testing showing that cell phones may be responsible for brain cancers, I think I may end up being the only one I know who will be brain cancer free... and old-fashioned enough to think that I don't need that phone!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Camp Waygood: Closed for the Summer

Due to the fact that the two regular summer campers will not be in attendance, 'Camp Waygood' will be closed this year. This year's visit was thwarted because my daughter can't take the time off from work, having lost two weeks due to her surgery, and another week when her Dad was hospitalized with a serious health concern. The costs and complications of flying these days prevents that mode of transportation, so the girls won't be at our house.  I miss them already!

Each year since we've been living in SC, Kimberly  and Rebecca have spent a few weeks with us. We spent time catching up with the girls lives. We've done activities that keep them busy and happy from arts and crafts to baking cookies with Papa.

 
We've had visits to festivals, orchards and animal farms. We've panned for gems.

We've taken them to Georgia, to visit their cousins, and to play mini golf in a little Bavarian village called Helen.   Sometimes the girls made us a pancake breakfast.


They've ridden a horse on our friends farm, and we've had cook outs and s'mores nights with other friends and neighbors.


We've had birthday parties and hula hoop contests, and we even did an 'egg'speriment to see if an egg would fry on the hot pavement! (It didn't)


But, this year, there will be none of that at our house for Kimbie and Becca. And Camp Waygood will be a lonely place.  I hope we can make the 900 mile trip to see them....very soon. Otherwise, Grammie and Papa will be two very unhappy campers!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Father Flanagan's Boys Town

When I was a child, a there was a place called Father Flanagan's Boys Town. I remember seeing mail coming from there, with the logo in the corner of a big boy carrying a smaller boy on his back. It read, "He ain't heavy, he's my brother." The mail was seeking donations, I suppose.  I knew very little about the place, but had it in my young head that it was a Catholic orphanage for boys.

Far across the country, in the state of Washington, my husband was growing up at the same time I was.  He saw those mailings in their pile of envelopes too.  In his mind, Boys Town was a place of correction for wayward boys...."a reform school."  I don't wonder that he thought that. He tells me that whenever he'd do something mischievous his mother would tell him that she was going to send him to Boys Town!  She was, of course, joking....but to a youngster who knew he'd done something that wasn't perfect behavior, can you imagine his fear?

After years of hearing his Mom saying that, Mike came to the realization that he probably wasn't getting shipped off to Nebraska. Still, to be sure, whenever the mail came and he saw that Boys Town logo in the return address, he'd hide or throw away that piece of mail!  He continued to be mischievous, even to this day.  He was never in real trouble, but you know how boys will be boys, doing things that are not always what adults might wish for them to do.  Sometimes he tells me he's lucky he wasn't sent away!

Mike grew up, spent two plus years serving with the US Marines in Viet Nam. Afterward, he attended Jr.College in his home state, and shortly after that, he moved from the west coast to the 'best coast', to New York state.  He lived there for over thirty years, until we moved to SC.  Boys Town has grown and changed a bit. They have a dozen locations today, and they minister to entire families to help children to be reared in ways that are socially acceptable.

One day, not long after his mother passed away in 2007, Mike went to our mailbox, and there he found, addressed to him, an envelope with "Boys Town" embossed in the corner.
He brought it to me with a grin, saying, "Look, Mom's not done with me yet! She even gave them a forwarding address for me!" 

I laugh each time I think of that...and whenever he 'acts up', I remind him that Boys Town is still in business!

(on another note, please visit my friend's blog, where she's got a lovely giveaway! Here's the link:http://ajoyfulchaos.blogspot.com/2011/06/today-simply-because-feel-like-it-i-am.html

Friday, June 10, 2011

Memories of a Boy

I got to thinking about something the other day, having read in our former town paper that the Boys Harbor Camp had been sold.  It was a place put together by a man with money for underprivileged boys who lived in New York City. They'd spend the summer, or a portion of it anyway, on the eastern end of Long Island, in the country.

That pulled a memory from deep recesses of my mind. The third summer I was married, I was the mommy of a toddler girl and expecting another baby in early September. We decided to place an application with the Fresh Air Organization. This was a group who placed impoverished children from the city in homes in the country for two week periods during the summertime.  We'd been reviewed and briefly interviewed and our application had been accepted. Then we waited for the time to pick up our child.

When we were notified of time and date, we drove to Southampton to meet our little visitor. He was seven years old and his name was Raymond.  He was born to a Puerto Rican family, and his English was broken.  He was shy, and he was scared. I don't blame him!  Can you imagine being sent from your family to one you've never met, to stay in an unfamiliar place for 14 long days? And can you imagine being his Mom and doing that? It's unimaginable to me.

Raymond was fearful of the underbrush at the border of our yard. When we would play catch with him, he'd dodge the ball, and if it went into the low blueberry bushes, he wouldn't go and get it. I don't know if he was afraid of nonexistant snakes or poison ivy or bugs. Perhaps he thought they were planted gardens, I don't know. 

His table manners were not very established yet. When he ate his food, he would put his mouth on the edge of his plate, and slide the food across the plate with his fork, until it got to his mouth. I attempted to teach him a more traditional method, and he tried to accomplish it. However, when I wasn't looking directly at him, I noticed he'd slip into his more comfortable way of eating.

Our little girl seemed to love Raymond. She laughed and tried to play with him. He seemed to like her, and was gentle with her. As I remember, he had younger siblings, so he was probably used to having a little 'shadow'.  We took them, and my young cousin, to the LVIS Fair at  Mulford Farm. Raymond got his first pony ride, and the picture shows anxiety on his face. He was happy to have Butch with us, though, my cousin being only two years older than Raymond was. I think all the kids had a fun time that day.

At the end of the two weeks, we returned Raymond to the spot where we'd picked him up two weeks earlier.  I wondered what he felt as we said goodbye. I had grown to love the little guy, and hoped to stay in touch with his family so that perhaps we could have him come the next summer. As it turned out, my letters were never answered, and I finally stopped writing.  We never saw Raymond again and I've wondered often about the youngster who would now be fifty-one years old!  Has he any memories of that short visit that summer in 1969? Are they good ones? How did he grow up? Did he live a good life and become an upstanding man? I don't want to think any negative thoughts, but hope he was raised in a wonderful home. I hope he's had an education and has become a man of integrity. 

But, alas, I fear I'll never know.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

2009- Wading Through More Changes

Sometimes things happen when you least expect them. Such was the case in August of 2009.  We'd had our northern grandchildren with us for about six weeks, and they were, sadly, leaving that day. We left home at noon to take them to the airport, and after several delays, we finally saw the plane lift off.  We headed toward home, tired and hungry.

We arrived at 10:30 pm, without any dinner, and I felt a warm, squishy carpet under my feet when I stepped through the front door.  I flipped on the light switch and realized that there were inches of water underfoot.  I heard water pouring from somewhere, and waded through the living room to the kitchen, finding water flowing from under the cabinet door beneath the sink.  I saw that the warm water was coming from a tube...the water supply to the dishwasher. I quickly turned the valve, turning off the flow. Then I went to the front door to let my husband know of our crisis. "We have a flood", I told him.  Boy...did we ever!


Upon further investigation, we discovered that the entire first floor of the house was saturated with water. The wall to wall carpet in the living room, hall and bedroom were soaked. The vinyl floors of the laundry room, kitchen and guest bath had about 2 inches of water in each.   We set about mopping up the puddles, quitting to go to bed at close to 2 am....and still without dinner.

The next few weeks were spent dealing with the All State Insurance Company, which was wonderful! We got the clean up folks from ServPro in to do the job of clearing out the carpets, vinyl, wet insulation under the house. The house was sprayed throughout the crawl space and on the interior to prevent any molds from growing. The insurance company took care of everything, bringing in the proper  subcontractors at the right times, so that we would be inconvenienced as little as possible. Since it was faulty work by the builder that caused our problem, the insurance company sought him out for repayment of expenses.
We were told that we could stay in a motel, paid for by insurance, and we had offers to stay with friends, my Mom, or actually move into a friend's vacant, fully furnished mobile home. However, we chose to live with the mess and the  huge, noisy, green fans they brought in to dry the floors and the underside of the lower cabinets. All of the rooms downstairs had a steady drone of two or three hot fans in each area, but they did the job well. 


We slept upstairs, ate out a lot and just made the best of things. We survived the procedure until it was finished just before Thanksgiving. Sometimes you just have to 'tread water', you know? I think it's ironic that we live in real drought conditions every summer, and that year we had a problem with a tiny, nut and tube disconnection that caused a very costly flood!

Along the way, we had decisions to make.  The new vinyl floors needed to be chosen. We had allowances from the insurance company toward replacement of flooring. Did we want to pay out of pocket above the allowance and put in wood floors instead of wall to wall carpet? We chose to do that for the living room, and upgraded the bedroom carpet. Looking back now, I wish we'd put wood down instead, in our room, but for some reason, we didn't.  (It's something we want to do one day, so I'm not sure why we didn't do it when we had the house torn apart then! DUH!) 

It seemed a good idea to paint, as long as everything was dismantled downstairs. The insurance company paid to have our kitchen painted, since some of the walls were damaged by water. My husband painted our room and the living room was done too.  It felt 'new' downstairs.  And it was wonderful living with wood floors in the front room, instead of that wall to wall carpet, which I've never been a fan of.

Lots of projects have been done, but we still have some to do. (Isn't that always true for a home owner?)  The upstairs hasn't been 'decorated' in the true sense of the word, though it's  comfortably furnished to accommodate our visitors. My craft room is in serious need of a firm touch of my hand! (Can you say, "Clutter" ?)  

  
   Outside, this area patiently awaits the building of a brick patio, and  decent grass surrounding it. My dream is to put our antique iron fence c.1886 along the right side, with a garden along the outside of the fence, running along the back of the sunroom beyond. Somewhere near the patio, I hope the small pond/fountain can be placed, so that we can hear it. The fragrant Mock Orange will be planted near the sitting area, too, so we can enjoy it in the Spring.

This may take some time to be accomplished, but I have every hope. Stay tuned....and someday you may actually see the finished product!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Home Projects Part 2

The house was more and more comfortable to us as we made these changes. Though we were content with the way it felt, there were still some asthetics we wanted to improve. So, we removed the awful aluminum, square, ridged porch posts and added wood, colonial ones and a railing to the front porch.


We enjoyed entertaining our friends and family, including summer visits from our northern grandchildren. We continued to add flowers to the beds...and we made a small vegetable garden. We also determined that it was time for the building of a shed. We chose a level spot in the back yard, and it was erected. Some time later, we wished we had put it down the slope a bit farther from the house, which would not have interfered so much with the future social area in the back yard.


 That summer we felt as if we'd made some headway in making our house and property a 'home'. Our gardens were growing well...as were the non-stop weeds.  Our vegetable garden produced nicely. The shed was finished and being stocked. The porch was comfortable!


And then....came the flood. Tune in tomorrow to wade with me through the alterations that brought!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Home Projects-Part 1

My father once said that you need to have three houses before you really know what you want in a home.  I've lived in many more than three shelters in my lifetime, but I now live in my third-owned one.  I'm quite content in it, but still there are some changes I'd make if  I could. We have made some changes to the place since we bought it four and a half years ago....some that we wanted to make, some that we were forced into.

This is how the house looked when I first saw it, in May 2005. Kind of blah, kind of bare...but I could see the potential it had, and basically it's farmhouse design appealed to me. It was what I'd always dreamed of owning (except for the vinyl siding!)
The house was the first on this street of our subdivision and was still underconstruction then. Just before Thanksgiving, 2005, we purchased the finished house that had no patio in back, off the sliding doors, and other than small hollies at the front porch and a small gum tree in the center of the front yard, no landscaping.

I set about some gardening...running from the side of the front porch toward the boundary with the lot next door. I have no pictures of that to share, but it runs parallel to the porch and forms two gardens of flowers, with an arch in the center, a separation between side yard and front. Because the yards of the entire subdivision looked like this one at the time, there was clear view across each persons properties. We planted some cypress which will someday grow tall enough to give us some privacy in our yard! We also added a full row of plants along the side the house.


Next, we built on a sunroom, where our family gathers for holiday dinners and birthday celebrations. It's added another sitting room to our home which gives us three season use. Because it is unheated, it's not taxed, and for summer, we've got a window AC unit in it, as well as 2 ceiling fans. 



The sliding doors which were on end of the dining area (where you see those rustic steps on the first picture) were taken out when we built this porch. We replaced them with the window which was in the center of the back wall, between the dining area and the kitchen.  We installed double french doors where that window was.  The walk area is far more suitable to us, since doing that. We used to have to trip over chairs at the table in order to get out of the sliders!

Tune in tomorrow for more changes!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Today...

Today I have to go buy a gallon of milk. While I'm out, I'll head to town to peruse the aisles of the nurseries. I've been looking at empty porch railing boxes for too long!  It's time now to fill them...actually it was time a few weeks ago.

What color will it be that will grace the porch?  Last year we had red salvia and some geraniums, with hanging baskets of ferns above and a couple of potted red rose bushes in front of the hollies at the front of the porch. It was really quite pretty. The red showed nicely from the road against the backdrop of the gray house and the white railings.  I have determined that it must be something bright, in order to be seen well from the road.  The trouble with last year's salvia in the rail boxes was that they got too lanky. Sitting in the Adirondack chair, I couldn't see anything through the red blooms.   So, this year, it must be something lower....and maybe trailing.

I wish I could find something that would bloom all summer long and be perennial, but it doesn't seem that there is anything of the kind.  Annuals are likely to be long blooming, but do not return. Perennials return, but are usually short bloomers.  I don't like spending so much money on things that just die after a few months. We want to offer a pleasant welcome to anyone who approaches our front door...colorful without being garish, attractive and not over-stated.  What a quandry!

So, off I go, in search of the perfect floral decorations for the front of the house. It's all about 'curb appeal', you know.    

Saturday, June 4, 2011

In Other Words....

Golly!  Does anyone speak  English anymore?  When I was in school I had a teacher, Mrs. Haas, who was a stickler  for using perfect grammar and pronounciation. She also didn't allow 'slang' in her classroom.  (Uh oh...I called Mrs. Haas a 'stickler'!  I'd better change that. Mrs. Haas was 'anal' about slang.  No, more slang.  She was totally bonkers about using words that weren't 'real'.  Ok...well,  you get my drift! She was absolutely determined to teach us to speak correctly.)

Mrs. Haas would be having a fit these days. Everywhere I look, including in the mirror, there are words coming out of people's mouths that are anything but the Queen's English.  Let's see... we're going to watch T.V in HD, or we'll view something we've DVR'd.  If that's not worth watching, we'll pull out the VCR and watch a VHS tape we've recorded.

When we travel in our SUV, or the RV, we'll entertain ourselves with music from a CD. We'll travel I-85 on our day trip, stopping for lunch at Mickey D's along the way.   We'll pass by USC on our route, and make a big deal of the weather, which is just the opposite of the predictions on CBS.

We think about the buds we have who are in ICU. There are two others who have COPD, another is being treated for CHF.  We're freaked out over a friend's marital break up. We're glad that we treat each other with TLC.

I think of the way Mrs. Haas would view this blog. She'd totally flip out!  If she was still teaching today, she'd be greeted by her students with something like "Yo, Mrs. H!  Wassup?"  The poor woman tried...she really did, and for the most part, she succeeded.  But, these days I think she'd be fighting a losing battle.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Fruit and Veggie Stand

During the winter months, we purchase fruit in the grocery store, getting apples, oranges, tangerines and  grapes. This time of  year, we don't even LOOK at the fruits on the stores' shelves.  When we can get the fresh, local  items, why would we want things that have been grown, picked while green and shipped across the country? 

This is a delightful time of year for us. We go to our local veggie and fruit stands and revel in the fragrance of fresh strawberries that greet us as we walk in. Then we pass the melons, displayed in an old double wash tub,  with their rich, musky smell. My mouth waters as I pass the peaches and cross over to the wooden shelves, divided to hold the bright, red tomatoes.  There are already zucchini and summer squash, albeit small and young. "Ah", I think, "I may become a summer vegetarian!" 

We pass the roasted peanuts in their shell, two bins of them...one salted, the other unsalted. We head for the counter in order to pay for our goods, and realize that the peaches there are $2 higher than the ones we purchased from an indidual up the street a few minutes ago.   As the 'newbie' rings up our gathered goods, my husband places two ears of corn on the counteer too.  Tonight's dinner of grilled salmon is going to have some delicious side dishes!

Dessert is sure to be a fruit salad, and with some left over for lunch tomorrow, I'll add a bit of cottage cheese, and find myself quite content at the end of each of those meals!  For good measure, I might even decide to have breakfast in the morning, which is a rarity...just so I can cut up some peaches to add to it!

Soon the local Farmers Markets will be opening, with peppers and onions, preserves, breads, and all manner of vitamin packed nutrition! Summer fruits and vegetables are definitely worth the wait...and the money! I think I'll even consider the heat a blessing, since it is surely one to the juicy food I enjoy so much at this time of year!  I hope you're all enjoying your area's local fare, although it may be early for some of you. When the time is right, indulge yourself, and get the nutritional benefits of whatever is available to you.  Enjoy in good health!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Flashback

Today I am taken back

To the days when I was ten years old

I see the heat rising in waves

From the black top that feels as if

It will melt my flip flops.


The sun burns my skin

And I am red and freckled

My hair is bleached blonder

From sun and salt water

It feels too hot on my head.


I drink a lot of water

But it's lukewarm now

And doesn't refresh my throat.


We walk to the family car

The seats are very hot,
The vinyl upholstery
Is not comfortable
Even through  covered
By my old, beach towel.


The inside of the car is stifling
Even with all the windows open
And air rushing in as we drive away

From the beach.


I want to stay and swim more

But I know it's time

We must go home for dinner

And a rinse off with the hose.


Later, as cicadas chirp
And darkness comes

I will go to bed but will not sleep

Because the upstairs bedroom

In Grandma's house where we live

Is as hot as noontime

With no breeze

And my skin is hot with sunburn.


I will not sleep easily, or well.

~KBW,June 1, 2011



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Graduate

She hated grade school and high school. She was one of those kids who had a struggle with her weight and some of her peers weren't very nice about it. It didn't help her desire to attend school with them.  Her self esteem was low, as it is with most kids of that age, but no amount of parental encouragement could over-ride the words of classmates. 

She was a smart child. If she walked into the classroom and breathed, she'd learn something, without making any effort. She did learn well, but she did not  exercise a muscle to let anyone know it. That, too, was partly peer pressure. She used to tell me that she didn't want everyone to call her a 'nerd'.  She didn't bring a book home, I don't know if she did her homework, or even if she had any! Nothing we did could encourage that girl to do her best at school.

I remember those days of middle and high school. It's such a hard time, trying to figure out who you are, what you want to do with your life, as you try to mentally keep up with the changes your body is undergoing. If that isn't enough, you are more aware at that age than you were in grade school, that other kids are 'better' than you are, have more than you do, are more popular than you are. 

All that aside, she graduated, somehow, with her class.  After that, she went to work at delis, at the movie theater, babysitting....wherever she could find work.  She had no interest in going to college, though I was sure she pull off the studies.  She worked hard at her jobs and was put into positions of authority at some of them. 

In 1996, her older sister, the one who would be a life-long student if given the chance, had a number of talks with her and finally got through to her. The next thing I knew, the two of them had hatched the plan that when the older one returned to New Paltz college in the fall,  the younger one would go as well.  They'd share an apartment, and the 'sage' would guide the 'newbie' through the loopholes of higher education and all that goes with it.  Sounded like a good idea.

It didn't work out quite that way.  Sometimes other things happen in life to sway our plans and they did. Over the years, she worked and financially struggled. She became the mother of two little girls, and she ended up raising them alone, with some help from her family, but mostly alone.  One day the light dawned. She needed to do something to make a better life for herself and her babies.
She enrolled in the community college.  She continued to work full-time and carried a full time schedule of classes.  We all chipped in to help with child care so that she could get her education.
The load was too heavy for her, both time-wise and financially.  She cut back to part time. After doing that for awhile, she completed what she was taking that semester, and then she didn't re-register.

The time came when she determined that she wanted to finish and get her degree.  She signed up to take a part time schedule, one class here, one there, sometimes on campus, sometimes on line.
It's taken her nearly ten years, but she's finished and graduated, with a 4.0 !  I knew  she could do it, if she set her sites on her goal. She's a determined, hard worker, with a good head on her shoulders. She's a good mother, and she's a responsible woman who is maturing to make wiser decisions. In so doing, she is making a better life for herself and her daughters. 

And these days, my graduate doesn't even care if people might call her a nerd!