December 13, 2014

  • Tempting Fate

    It's been a challenging couple of weeks culminating in a spectacularly craptastic day yesterday.

    On the bright side, I think I finished my Christmas shopping, got the last of the packages mailed, and the grocery shopping done.

    On the craptastic side, all that involved visits to Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Meijer, Postal Connections, and two trips to the post office.

    On the bright side, it wasn't as bad as I expected it to be at any of those places and I made sure to make eye contact and smile at all the employees whom I encountered, which resulted in smiles and pleasant encounters.

    On the craptastic side, I've had to stop taking my arthritis meds and I was exhausted and in pain (and for some reason one of my fingers was swollen and painful) by the time I returned to The 'Duh, made the last stop at the post office and unloaded the groceries.

    On the REALLY craptastic side, I had my yearly mammogram scheduled for 5:00 that evening. I'd had to postpone it because I've been struggling with tendonitis and couldn't raise my arms over my head for several weeks. I put away the stuff that needed to be refrigerated and left the rest for later so I could remove my shoes and put my feet up for 20 minutes before I had to leave for that appointment. And then, after getting pushed and prodded and squished, I went and tempted fate by posting on Facebook that my long day was finally over. Little did I know, it was only half over.

    I went home, warmed up some leftovers for supper, and Bookmark61 and I watched Elf. At 9:00, I had just put on my pajamas and was reveling in the freedom from clothes and shoes and errands when my phone vibrated. It was Joyouswind. She was sick, laying on the floor and too weak to get up. So I did what any mother would do and put my clothes and shoes back on, told my husband what was going on and that I would get the daughter to bed, take her puppy out for his end of the day business, and stay until I was sure everything would be okay.

    Two hours later, my husband was helping the daughter down three flights of stairs and into my van, a friend of hers was picking up the puppy, and I was trying to figure out where I'd put down my cell phone before heading to the ER. At midnight I told Brett he might as well go home and get some sleep. They'd started an IV on Joyouswind to get her hydrated, pumped her full of anti-nausea meds and taken blood samples.


    K at ERCurled up into a ball of misery under a pile of heated blankets.

    At 1 AM they wheeled her away for an ultrasound. At 2:30 AM they said everything looked pretty good and she'd probably picked up "something viral" (but blood tests ruled out influenza). At 3 AM the IV bag was empty and they were all set to release her until she sat up and got violently ill again. At 3:15 AM they gave her a shot that stopped the nausea and knocked her silly. At 3:30 AM they tried to release her but she was knocked so silly she couldn't stand up. At 4 AM we finally managed to get her into a wheelchair and loaded into the van. At 4:30 AM I got back to The 'Duh and helped her up the stairs to her old bedroom. At 5 AM I finally went to bed and catnapped for about three hours, but my back and knees and blasted finger were hurting too badly for me to sleep.

    This morning was spent back at Meijer getting prescriptions filled and buying food she can eat - bananas, Jello, applesauce, apple juice - all things I generally have on hand, but of course the bananas were overripe and I was completely out of everything else and hadn't restocked when I did the big two-weeks' grocery shopping.

    The daughter is sleeping off her long night. I'm washing every single thing both of us were wearing last night. Gotta get rid of those hospital cooties. Fighting to stay awake... must put up Christmas tree today! We've gotten two gifts in the mail and no tree to put them under.

    So what do we take away from this? Never tempt fate by declaring your day long, exhausting, or finished because fate loves to serve up a big, steaming plate of your own words for you to eat. Lesson learned. Today has just begun... it will be an average day... no expectations good or bad today... no-sir-ee!

    My finger is still swollen. Not that I'm complaining.


December 6, 2014

  • Name the Christmas Movie!

    I've been watching some of my favorite Christmas movies. In fact, I'm watching one now and a character just said one of the lines from this Christmas movie quiz I posted last year... and the year before that... and I don't know how many times. Luckily, nobody ever remembers this stuff from year to year. Here it is again, with my usual disclaimer: Not all of the movies are actual Christmas movies; some are just set at Christmastime. How many can you recognize without Googling?


    1. “Only one thing in the world could have dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.”

    2. “I’m sorry I ruined your lives, and crammed eleven cookies into the VCR.”

    3. “I been savin’ this money for a divorce, if I ever got a husband.”

    4. “Oh, well, now I'm off to get my life-sustaining supplies: cornmeal and gun powder and hamhocks and guitar strings.”

    5. “Think nasty, think nasty, think nasty!”

    6. “We’re gonna die! We’re gonna die! I’m going to throw up, and then I’m gonna die!”

    7.“In some ways you’re far superior to my cocker spaniel.”

    8. “I never liked a girl well enough to give her twelve sharp knives.”

    9. “Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”

    10. “Let me drive.” “No, you’re drunk.” “You always get to drive.” “That’s because I’m the sheriff, a**hole.”

    11. “Hey, we’re flexible. Pearl Harbor didn’t work out, so we got you with tape decks.”

    12. “The only thing you need to worry about is where you’re going to buy your sweaters when the circus pulls out of town.”

    13. “Light the lamp, not the rat! Light the lamp, not the rat! Put me out! Put me out! Put me out!”

    14. “I’m only an elected official here, I can’t make decisions by myself!”

    15. “Hiya kids. Here’s an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don’t buy drugs. Become a pop star, and they give you them for free!”

    16. “Guys, I’m eating junk and watching rubbish! You better come out and stop me!”

    17. “Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?”

    18. “But… but maybe he’s only a little crazy like painters or composers or… or some of those men in Washington.”

    19. “There is no such thing as rich enough; only poor enough.”

    20. “You mustn’t mind the tree monsters. Their bark is worse than their bite.”

November 28, 2014

  • Good Black Friday

    I've been reading the usual accounts of Black Friday that make me want to find that cave I keep talking about moving into when life gets overwhelming. My husband and daughter enjoy going out on Black Friday to "see what's out there." They don't leave early and for the past few years they haven't looked up the sales. They just go to South Bend or Kalamazoo and walk around the mall, looking and talking and enjoying each other's company. Occasionally they will stumble upon a bargain like the awesome tower speaker I got for Christmas a few years ago. That's been a well-used gift. We have it plugged into the TV for stereo sound, my iPod docks to it, I can connect my Kindle and my laptop to it for playing music, we can use it as a radio which we've only done to listen to the high school football games... and it was an unlooked for Black Friday bargain.

    I would rather go to the dentist than go shopping on Black Friday, but today I ventured out of the house and into one business establishment. I have a friend who is always the first person to help when there is a need. She's one of those people with a gift of mercy and compassion. So when she needed a favor, I was happy to help her out. She is out of town, spending the holiday with her kids and grandkids, but wanted to take advantage of a great Black Friday offer at a locally owned restaurant. They were offering a gift card promotion for five hours: Buy one gift card in any amount, get one for half that amount free. Since I had to drop off a tap shoe and pick up a dog in St. Joe today, it wasn't even much out of my way to run by the restaurant.

    I'm so glad I offered to do this for my friend because I witnessed a moment of Black Friday craziness you won't believe! The restaurant has a narrow driveway leading to a long, narrow parking lot behind the building. The narrowness is further complicated by the construction where they are adding onto the back of the building. The car entering the parking lot in front of me got to the construction area and stopped, and I admit I felt a little impatient as they sat there talking through the window to one of the construction workers who stopped what he was doing to walk over to the car. He looked back at me and gave a little apologetic wave and I checked my impatience. I really wasn't in a hurry anyway.

    Then... and I can't even believe what I'm about to tell you... the construction worker who had already had to walk away from what he was doing, opened the passenger door of the car and HELPED AN ELDERLY WOMAN GET OUT!!! But wait, that's not all! He then offered her his arm and ESCORTED HER TO THE DOOR OF THE RESTAURANT!!!Can you believe this Black Friday insanity?

    What's the world coming to?

November 25, 2014

  • Life & Stuff

    It's been awhile since I did a life update blog. I've spent a lot of time in the past few months working on my dad's memoir, and on Halloween day I finished typing up and published my Mom's poetry. I Remember: Poems About Life can be found at and is a memoir in verse of a childhood spent in devastating poverty and back-breaking labor in the cotton fields of Arizona and Arkansas.

    Mom book cover

    The last few poems deal with Mom's struggles as the mother of five boisterous children, her bouts of depression and thoughts of death. You would think this book would ooze sadness, but it is surprisingly uplifting. All proceeds from the sale of both this book and Dad's memoir will go toward Mom's care.

    I had a list of things to get done today and I haven't accomplished any of them yet, but it was a productive day nonetheless. My lovely daughter called this morning; she wasn't feeling well, was just leaving the doctor's office and needed some Mom time. She came over and I took her to the pharmacy to pick up her prescription, ran by her apartment to pick up her dog, and came back to my place where I put her to work. Not strenuous work, but something that's been on my to-do list for about ten years and I didn't want to waste the opportunity to get it done.

    When we moved into this house more than 22 years ago, there were nails in the walls of the living room and I hung our pictures on them thinking, "I'll move everything around once all the boxes are unpacked." About twelve years later, I convinced Krysten to help me take everything off the walls, pull out all the nails so I wouldn't be tempted to rehang stuff in the same place, and rehang the pictures in a more pleasing arrangement. A few months later, I rearranged the furniture and the stuff on the walls was off balance again.

    Today we repeated what we did ten years ago. Everything came off the walls, the nails came out, I brought down a couple of framed photos from upstairs and pulled out some framed prints I've been meaning to hang. We pulled the furniture away from the walls, put the artwork on the floor in various arrangements and rehung it. It's really weird to sit on the couch and look at the Renoir prints and the sketch of Paris across the room. It's a good weird, though. The room feels balanced again. It must be almost time to rearrange the furniture.

    While we were busy in the living room, Krysten's dog Jack and my Boo were playing rough and getting underfoot, so we put Jack in the kitchen with a baby gate to keep him out of the living room. He ripped through on of Boo's ghost toys. It has joined the pile of toys above the washing machine waiting for me to replace the stuffing and sew up the rips. There may be a liberated squeaker that needs to be repatriated as well. I'll be glad when Jack gets past the puppy chewing phase.

    Wednesday will be spent doing all the stuff I didn't get to today. First on the list: pie dough. At some point before I go to bed, I'll make the pies and get some of the other dishes started. We'll eat our feast at noon on Thursday, then go to a movie. We'll thank every theater employee with whom we come in contact for working on Thanksgiving so we can enjoy our tradition of a Thanksgiving movie.

    On Friday, Brett and Krysten will make their annual foray into the Black Friday madness, where they will look at all the "great deals" in the stores, check them against and come home without spending any money, but with a better idea of what they want to order online. I will most likely stay home on Friday, unless Val or Dan want to get together in Indiana for a little geocaching. I was hoping to have Val's scarf finished by now. Maybe, if I really work hard and skip the blocking, I can get it finished by Friday.

    Saturday will be our usual activities. Sunday is the annual Messiah sing-along in Kalamazoo. We look forward to that all year. Which reminds me that Brett and I haven't practiced in the past week. We need to sing through the choruses a couple more times before Sunday. Especially Brett; he's switching from tenor to bass this year. We've been going to the singalong since they began it in 1995, missing only one year when Krysten had a college band concert on the same day.

    My joints have been very painful lately and the arthritis medication I take has been causing constant heartburn and indigestion.  Getting old is not for sissies. I try to focus on what I can still do, like typing, rather than what I've lost, like playing the piano.

    Okay, it's bedtime and I can't think of much more to write about. Consider yourself updated. If I don't make it back on here before Thanksgiving, have a good one!

November 23, 2014

  • The Spirit of Christmas

    Ugly Christmas Tree

    Residents of Reading, Pennsylvania are in a kerfuffle over the city’s “ugly” Christmas tree, with some claiming that the tree is ruining their Christmas spirit. It’s sad that anyone’s Christmas spirit is reliant on whatever decorations the city puts up. As many commenters have said, those people are missing the point. The city has already planned to replace the tree, which was itself a last minute replacement for the tree they had tagged at a local farm, but were unable to pick up because the ground was too wet to drive a heavy truck in for it. I’m not sure why there was such a rush to put up the tree before Thanksgiving, but that’s a pet peeve of mine that I won’t go into here.

    Let’s talk instead about Christmas spirit. When I was a child, Christmas spirit was Santa Claus. As soon as Thanksgiving was over, we were admonished to be good because Santa was watching. Our good behavior during the weeks leading up to Christmas was redeemed with oranges and nuts and hard candy in our stockings and a couple of presents under the tree.

    As adults, Christmas spirit is about friends, family, generosity, volunteering, and showing love to those whose lives we judge to be less blessed than ours. I say that in a non-judgmental way… it’s a good thing to feel blessed whatever your circumstances and to strive to redeem the circumstances of others. Even those who celebrate only the secular aspects of Christmas, or don’t acknowledge Christmas at all, often take the opportunity to redeem their busyness or self-involvement with acts of charity during the holidays.

    For Christians, Christmas spirit is about a savior sent by God to redeem mankind. We focus on the arrival of this God-gift at Christmas with candles and lights, trees and wreaths, carols and gift-giving. We celebrate the birth of the redeemer and put off for a little while thinking about the terrible price he would pay for our redemption, but it’s there lurking in the shape of the tree, the gifts of the magi, and the fourth verse of the carols.

    The true spirit of Christmas is redemption. We come into this world as beautiful, innocent babies and spend most of our lives piling ugliness into our thoughts and souls and bodies. Christianity embraces a savior who redeems us, transforming something ugly into something beautiful.

    And so, citizens of Reading, whether you celebrate the birth of a redeeming savior, seek to redeem your time with charitable acts, or redeem your children’s good behavior with filled stockings and gifts under the tree, I ask you to show the true spirit of Christmas by looking past the ugliness somebody has piled onto that poor tree and finding a way to redeem it instead of whining about how it’s ruining your Christmas spirit. That’s the problem with rushing into the Christmas season; people are not ready to love, serve, transform and redeem until after they’re stuffed with turkey and all the trimmings.

    Oops! I went where I said I wasn’t going to go. Mea culpa.

November 20, 2014

  • Crystalline's Quiz

    I'm sitting here listening to the Ray LaMontagne station on Pandora and enjoying the peacefulness that has descended after a lot of noise and doggy angst. Boo is sleeping beside me on the couch and Jack (joyouswind's puppy) is sleeping on Boo's pillow by the window. I don't want to get up and have them barking and nipping at each other again, so I'll stall for time by doing this survey I found on Crystalline's site.

    1.Where are you? In the living room, on the couch.

    2.What is the temperature outside?  25 degrees and very windy; it feels like 11 degrees.

    3.Are you wearing long sleeves? No. I got hot and took off my long-sleeved shirt. Luckily for everyone's sensibilities, I was wearing a tank top underneath it.

    4.Are you wearing shoes? What kind? No. I am wearing Smart Wool socks. I'll probably put on my pink slippers when I get up from the couch.

    5.What was the last YouTube clip you watched? A couple of idiots surfing on Lake Erie during the blizzard in Buffalo.

    6.What was the last tv show you watched? A Bones rerun.

    7.What was the last book you read? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

    8.What was the last thing you wrote with a pen/pencil? I addressed an envelope for a $12 rebate. Before that, I addressed an envelope for a letter to my mom.

    9.What is the last thing you ate? A chicken sandwich.

    10.What is one enjoyable thing you plan to do today? Eat pizza and play double canasta.

    Since we are having guests over for pizza and cards, I really need to get up and sweep the kitchen floor, but more than that, I really don't want to wake the dogs and have them stirred up again. If you were a guest at someone's house for an informal evening, would you forgive a little dust, some dead leaves that came in on Boo's tail, and a few dog hair tumbleweeds under the kitchen table?

November 11, 2014

  • A Grateful Nation

    My father was a man who loved his family and friends with steadfast loyalty and was greatly loved by them in return. When his health began to fail in earnest, a steady stream of friends and family members from all over the country filed through the small house in Waldron, Arkansas where hospice workers assisted  Mom and my younger brother to care for him as he lay on his deathbed. Dad loved his family gently and unconditionally and that love was returned to him a hundredfold.

    Dad loved his country as he loved his family: unconditionally. His love for his country, however, was a fierce love. Just as with his family, he was well aware of the flaws, but to him there was no greater nation than the United States and no higher honor than to serve in the U.S. military. Dad was proud of his service in the Navy during the Korean War. He knew that patriotism was more than flag waving, pledging allegiance and singing anthems. For him, loving his country meant the sacrifice of service and paying taxes, the responsibility of voting and holding officials accountable. It meant taking pride in the accomplishments and standing firm during the scandals. It meant learning the history, passing it on to his children and instilling in them, too, a love of both the country and its history.

    When Dad died, we all showed our love for him in various ways. My mother wore the pearls he’d given her more than fifty years before. More than twenty people spontaneously stood and spoke at his funeral. His son-in-law conducted the service. Five of his grandsons and his best friend carried him in his flag-draped casket to his final resting place. Mourners carried flowers to the gravesite, long stem roses purchased from the florist, daisies clipped that morning from gardens, posies of wildflowers picked from the roadside, and placed them on his casket as they left. But he knew he was well loved by family and friends and would have expected no less from us. What would have pleased him more than anything his family did that day were the actions of the U.S. Navy honor guard who drove all night and stood waiting at the cemetery for two hours in the sweltering heat of an Arkansas summer afternoon.

    “On behalf of a grateful nation.” Six words, spoken quietly and with gentle gravity, acknowledged the sacrifice, service and quiet patriotism that were the outward expressions of a man whose love for his country never wavered.



November 9, 2014

  • Is anyone still here?

    BodieGhost Town

    I have no idea who all is left here. I'm too stubborn to give up and relocate my blog at least until the fabled Next Update. I still have hope for an eventual revival of sorts, but in the meantime blogging here feels kind of like living in a ghost town.

    DSC08030Grumpy Boo

    Life has been busy with all the usual stuff; water aerobics, barbershop chorus, church, errands and chores. Plus I've been puppy-sitting once a week. Boo does not know what to do with a boisterous puppy in the house. He spends the first three hours barking and growling and being defensive, and the last hour playing with Jack. I spend a lot of time separating them for the sake of my sanity.

    DSC08028Jack Attack

    The barbershop chorus will be performing at the Veteran's Day service this Tuesday. We'll be opening with the national anthem, followed by The Battle Hymn of the Republic, a Patriotic Show Medley, and Let There Be Peace on Earth. It's kind of weird to me to have The Battle Hymn of the Republic and Let There Be Peace on Earth in the same lineup, but I've always been uncomfortable with the Battle Hymn words and history so it's probably just me.

    I am no longer volunteering weekly at the reception desk at the Red Cross chapter, but I'm still doing data entry for them as needed. My Mondays are so much less stressful now that I'm not rushing from one thing to the next all day.

    We had a gale blow in off the lake on Halloween. After our tent gazebo blew away, we decided to ditch the pirate theme and decorations and go with something befitting the sleet and snow that had been falling all day. Plus Brett just wanted to wear a warmer costume.

    #6 Costume dress

    Ho, ho, ho... Merry Halloween!

    We had music of Trans Siberian Orchestra playing, so there was a Nightmare Before Christmas vibe going. A lot of kids are scared of him in his pirate getup. I think maybe it's the three-foot long dreadlocks. This year there were kids running up the street to hug him and stopping to tell him what they want for Christmas. Several little ones said "Merry Christmas!" instead of "Trick-or-treat!" Krysten dressed as The Black Widow for work on Thursday, when they had their Halloween party for the kids.

    DSC08050Black Widow

    Another lake gale blew in this week, but it wasn't as miserable as the first one. By the middle of next week we are expected to have three inches of snow on the ground. Yippee skippy.

    AIL cover

    Available at if you want to read about my dad for some reason.

    I finally got my dad's memoir published on one of the self publishing sites. Did I mention this already? If I did, it's still worth mentioning again. Dad hand wrote his memoir over a 10 year period. I started typing it in 1985 on my Smith Corona typewriter. I can't remember what year I finished. It was passed around the family for proofreading and editing, but the book is from my copy of the original, unedited manuscript. I've only read a couple of chapters so far because I've been immersed in the manuscript for so long I don't feel any real urgency to read it at the moment, but I've already figured out that I will need to read it with a pen and notepad handy to write down typos and their page numbers so I can fix them and eventually revise the manuscript. And while I'm at it, I'll probably try to fix the page numbering problem that I couldn't sort out originally, but think I've finally sort of figured out.

    #9 Legos

    Brett and I watched last week's Doctor Who episode last night, and the season finale tonight. The new Doctor has grown on me over the course of the season. Clara, however, not so much. I am hoping Santa brings the Doctor a new companion for the Christmas special.

    I'm sure there's more I could tell you about, but it's late and I have to get up for church in the morning.

October 28, 2014

October 27, 2014