Friday, December 22, 2017

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

When I think of all the centuries past, especially in our genealogy I've been tracing, a hundred years seems trivial.  I'm nearly sixty years old now and, when I think of how fast that has gone, again a hundred years is hardly anything.  But the little coal mining camp, which I'm anxious to see someday, and the little boy who was born there a hundred years ago today seems like ancient times.
Daddy was born the third child of Hugh Edwards and Mary Lavicia Hill Edwards although, by the time he was born, he had only one living sibling, his brother Clyde who was six years old.
Either he didn't talk much about his home life or the Army life which followed, or I just wasn't listening.  Knowing me, it was mostly likely the latter.  I was such a self-absorbed kid I never figured any of that stuff would interest me.  I never paid attention to the old stories any of his family shared at our visits back East, never even took an interest in the lives of my aunts and uncles ... until it was too late.  They were gone, most of the stories were lost, and I'll never forgive myself.  I do remember a few of his tales, though, of growing up very poor and oftentimes not having enough to eat.  He absolutely loved the song "Coal Miner's Daughter" because Loretta Lynn's account of her family matched almost exactly that of his.
Daddy served in the Army and I don't know much about those early years either.  He was married and a father to Wilma, and then divorced.  Then he met and married my mom and adopted her two children, Tom and Ginny, and four and a half years later I was born.
He had only one crushing demon that I remember ... he was an alcoholic who would take any opportunity he could to get drunk.  He'd stay dry for years and then fall again, and that happened pretty much regularly.  Mom threatened so many times to leave but they stayed together because of me.  (I don't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.)  As a teenager, particularly later teens, I wasn't close to him at all anymore and generally wanted nothing to do with him.  I stayed closed away in my room most of the time.  I didn't hate him, but I think I came close a few times.
Then something changed, and it changed dramatically.  I grew up and so did he.  The last two years of his life, we became closer than ever.  In that last year, he was in the throes of terminal lung cancer and his whole outlook on life changed.  He wanted all of his loose ends tied up before he died and I think he pretty much did that.
But the really awesome part of his story takes place forty years after his death.  Now that I'm nearly sixty years old, I have time to ponder some of the things he tried to teach me:
The importance of family ... knowing your relatives and roots, and soaking up as much of their history as you can.  Although I didn't get to grow up around my cousins, for the past ten years I've gotten to know them and could never have imagined how sweet that is!
And how important it is not to judge ... things aren't always what they seem.  That has helped me more than any life lesson learned from anyone.  What makes people behave as they do?  For example ... why did my daddy drink?  What made him turn into an alcoholic?  Maybe he saw some truly terrifying things during the two wars he served in and he couldn't deal with it.  What if a person right next to him got his head blown off, or if he had to take someone's life, or if he witnessed the slaughter of civilians ... you just never know.  Or perhaps something happened to him as a child that he'd spend the rest of his life running away from it.  Sometimes things are buried so deeply inside a person's heart, no one could even begin to imagine them.  I'm just now realizing the reasons behind some of his really annoying traits, and they actually now endear him to me instead of haunting me with bad memories.  And the same thing is even beginning to happen with other people.  So yeah, he taught me not to judge, and to give some serious, deep thought to something before closing my mind, and I'm still learning that even today.
I'm so incredibly thankful I got those two last years with Daddy, to know him as a friend and to realize he was human like everybody else, and not some bigger-than-life statue on a pedestal.  Sure he had his problems.  Who doesn't?  But I loved him.  And I always will.  HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY, DADDY!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Disaster Or Grace?

Last week, what a whirlwind ... a week which went from one extreme to the other, from nonstop disasters to the heights of pure joy!
Disasters?  Or was it really an abundant outpouring of God's grace?
Mike's cousin Julie came to town for five days and what fun we had together!  She had to be at work a good bit of it, but we got out to eat and shop, and had lots of visiting time at home.  Now I'm all excited about visiting her and her family in Pennsylvania first chance I get.

The chain of disasters began three days before my son was to be married!  My grand dream of dancing at my son's wedding was threatened because my back was out!  And it didn't seem like it was in any hurry to heal and quit hurting.

Then fast forward to Saturday, the night before the wedding.  All of a sudden, the kitchen sink plugged up and, in the midst of trying to fix it, the pipe blew.  What a mess!!  So Mike at least got it to where, if used very delicately, it would last the night, and then he'd work on it in the morning.

We were watching the weather pretty carefully because it rained Friday and Saturday and there was a 30% chance of rain on Sunday too.  But the sun was out and it looked like we might luck out, especially since the wedding was outdoors.

Three hours till Joe's wedding.  Everything was back on track and it was time to get ready to go.  That's when it started.  My hair spray bottle wouldn't spray so I had to hunt down another spray bottle and use it instead.  It worked.  No problem.  After curling each section I sprayed it.  Big mistake.  But how am I supposed to know how to use hair spray?  I've used it twice in my life.  While trying to smooth and blend the curls with a hairbrush I ended up with one giant hairball that felt like it was all tied together with bubble gum.  I was crushed!  And so was my hair!  What choice did I have?  I got a great big comb and somehow managed to get through the whole mess, and then curled it again with the curling iron and hoped it would hold.  It wasn't the best it ever looked, but it was better than the cotton candy from a half hour before.

Somewhere in the middle of the hairdressing mess, there came massive wind, rain, and hail!!  It was a cloudburst, maybe a microburst or some other similar storm phenomenon!  In the 50 years Mike has lived in Phoenix vs. my 40, we have never seen anything like that.  We couldn't even see the trees in our front yard because of the wind and rain.  While Cubby isn't normally afraid of storms, this one had him a little rattled because of its intensity.  And then the power went out!  Normally not a big deal for me because I never have the lights on anyway ... unless I'm right in the middle of trying to repair a wardrobe malfunction with a needle and thread!!  I hated leaving Cubby alone in the dark house in the middle of a storm so I prayed for him and hoped he'd be okay; it should've only been an hour or so till Julie would get back to the house to stay with him.  Now, to get out to the van without getting totally drenched.

Only after we were well on our way, several minutes later than we planned, did we realize we'd never make it in time.  The streets were flooded, traffic lights were out, trees were ripped right out of the ground and one was laying right in the middle of the street with traffic backed up trying to get around it.  I called Joe and told him about it and asked him to request a ten-minute grace period from the wedding venue.

But then we got on the freeway and everything dried out.  It was barely raining and we made it to the country club with ten minutes to spare.  We figured no way they'd have things still set up outside, but they did.

I think my heart skipped a whole bunch of beats when I saw Joey appear, hand in hand with Dana.  She looked like an honest-to-goodness princess.  They walked the aisle together and, funny, all the freaky disasters we had for the past three days all faded away like they never happened at all.  My heart bubbled over with joy ... pure joy!  It stayed dry all the way through the ceremony, and only afterward when we were all going inside for the reception anyway did it start sprinkling again.

My sweet son ... he made one of my fondest dreams come true that night.  A mother-son dance!  It really did happen in a heartbeat, my boy became a man, all I ever dreamed of, smiling back at me.

As soon as we got home, we got Julie packed up and took her to the airport.  By then the storm was passed and traffic was moving well again.
Now, here's the amazing grace part. Once my mind quieted enough to really think about it, I was in awe of how God got us through it all!
---Over those few days, my back felt much better and I barely even knew it was hurt by Sunday evening.
---Mike was able to fairly easily repair the sink himself; no need for a plumber.
---I had a brand new spray bottle in the closet and the whole hair spray bottle crisis lasted less than a minute.
---Okay, I really had a major problem with the rest of the hair spray debacle.  But had the power gone out just five or ten minutes earlier, I wouldn't have been able to use my curling iron to fix it.  And it looks like the damage I did to my hair when desperately combing it out is minimal.
---I believe with all my heart that the idea of how to fix my dress came directly from God!  It was easy and it worked!
---Our storm damage was limited to a small part of the roof on the barn in the back yard.  No big deal at all.  But just a mile North of us several steel warehouse buildings were flattened like a bomb went off there.  And just two miles South of us the canopy at a gas station blew down, taking with it all the gas pumps on the islands.
---The tree blocking the road was blocking the other direction so we were able to move slowly but surely.
---The wedding was a little late getting started, as several others were having trouble weathering the storm, but then it all fell into place.  Not one drop of rain fell on the ceremony, and even the wind had quieted.
---Cubby was fine.  As soon as Julie came in he settled right down, even though they were in the dark till well after we came home.
---We got home in plenty of time to help Julie pack up, and the power even came back on so she could look around and make sure she got everything.
I hope I'll always keep vivid memories of October 18th and remember that, even though "everything is going wrong" I don't have to rush around, fretting and freaking out like a crazy person.  God has everything well in hand.  And now I can get on with things, like enjoying my new daughter and grandson.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Never Before So Overwhelmed

What an enormous job!  After such a turbulent three months with the deaths of my mom and brother, now I face another challenge of epic proportions ... going through boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of their stuff, and deciding which little things to hold on to, which to give away, and what to throw away.
"It belonged to my mother," cannot be allowed as an excuse to hang on to something.  Hey, I loved my mother but, face it, her tastes and mine came from two different planets.  Most of the furniture left in her little apartment we left in the apartment when we cleared it out, as the facility has a fund-raising auction once a year to make money to improve their buildings and grounds.  Still, it's unimaginable how much stuff is left to go through.  Some of it hadn't been unpacked for ten or more years!
Same thing with my brother.  He had as much stuff as Mom did!  And most of it is in give-away bags and bins waiting for the next trip to Goodwill.  Now, this doesn't count the dozens upon dozens more boxes that still fill up a self-storage unit.
This is all much harder than it sounds; I feel like I'm giving away and throwing away their lifetimes.  Things that were important to them.  Things they treasured.  Sweet memories of homes and travels.
But they were Mom's and Tom's treasures, not mine.  They were their memories, important to them in their own lives.
It makes it easier to put myself in the other end of the picture.  I have things in my house that are precious to me, that I've had my whole life, that I enjoy every day, and that I'd be so sad to lose.  But when it's time for Andy and Joey to go through my house, I know they wouldn't want to keep 99.9% of anything in here.  These things are important to me, not to them, and I wouldn't want them to junk up their own lives with all my stuff.  Maybe a few things here and there they'd enjoy keeping in the family, but they'd have to draw the line somewhere, and I hope they draw it early on.
Now Mike is facing exactly the same thing with one exception which makes it so much harder for him; his mom is still alive.  Her house needs to be cleared out to sell, one that she lived in for 45 years and raised her family in.  So many treasures are now just going by the wayside.
It makes me appreciate to a far greater extent what Jesus said in Matthew 6 about not storing up treasures on earth.  They'll be gone when you are.  But rather, store up treasures in heaven where they'll last forever.  Very deeply thought-provoking, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Seeing Stars

big dipper"They're beautiful, aren't they? The stars. I hardly ever look at them anymore, but they are ... quite ... beautiful." --K (Men In Black)
It's one of my favorite movies, not only because I really like Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and especially Frank, but because of my fascination with the stars and the magnificent planets and nebulae in the heavens out there.
There are a lot of things I've missed since my sight went bad a few years ago ... eye contact with people, my grandchildren in particular, and my dog ... reading books ... scenery along the road ... and movies and TV. I can compensate for most of that so it's not such a big deal. I can read e-type-books when they're blown up on my computer, hubby is great when it comes to descriptions along the road, and my choices for movies and most TV shows are ones I've seen a hundred times anyway so I know what's going on.
But there's one thing I've never gotten used to ... looking up at night and seeing a black sky, or a couple of super-bright stars at best. My dark glasses over light-restrictive contact lenses block out practically everything.
Then, a few nights ago when I had already taken my contacts out, I found my old clear-lens glasses and went outside to try and see something. It brought tears to my eyes ... I saw stars! They took my breath away! It had been such a long time! I got to see the Big Dipper before it set (sets really early this time of year) and Orion and Pleiades and Cassiopeia ... they were all there ... and they were so incredibly beautiful!
Tonight I got to do the same thing, if only for a few minutes. Between street lights, neighbors' porch lights, and the reflection of miles of city lights, it took its toll very quickly and I had to quit. But for those few quiet minutes, it was just me and God enjoying those awesome, teeny flecks of light.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that no one got very excited when I told them about it. It's something they see every night. What's the big deal about a bunch of stars in the sky? I hope they never have to truly understand.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 ... I Still Don't Understand

On this tenth anniversary of 9/11, I find myself right back where I was ten years ago.
I remember exactly where I was that morning. I was to cover a hospital volunteer shift for a friend who'd be absent. I got up and, still in my pink sleep shirt, I wandered out to the kitchen. Was I in for a surprise! There stood my then-22-year-old son! Horrified that anyone should see me in my sleeper, my first inclination was to run back into my room and put on a robe! But that changed in an instant.
He had the TV on. He was trembling. He put his arm around me. We watched the burning of the twin towers and the Pentagon together. Even his voice trembled as he told me there was a plane on its way to Washington DC and they were talking about having to shoot it down. Details were few that morning, and no one could keep anything straight.
"Where's Melissa?" I began thinking rationally all of a sudden. "Where's Joey?" We didn't know what was going on, if there were more attacks on the way, where, when, what. As a mother, I had to come to my senses and know who was where in case we had to get out of the city.
Mike was working nights back then and, though he had just gotten to bed an hour before, I woke him up anyway. I told him he needed to get up; the country was under attack. He thought I was dreaming. He got up anyway and held me as we all gathered in the living room to watch more and more destruction unfold on TV.
Finally, I had to go get dressed and get to the hospital. Over the years I've felt, in some way, cheated, that I had something else I had to do instead of gluing myself to the television like every other American I knew. But I couldn't let my friend down, and there were still people at work who had to be taken care of. In retrospect, maybe that was a good thing, to keep me from being too drawn in and swallowed up as I often had a tendency to be.
By the time I got home, I saw pretty much all there was to see since they were replaying and repeating everything from every angle to every speculation to try and make some sense and order out of the pure, unprecedented chaos.
That's about all I remember of that day. I think I was on autopilot, in total disbelief and shock. I stayed that way for days as I watched the search and recovery efforts and the endless news stories. It was all anyone talked about for months.
Thankfully, we had baseball as a distraction. My Diamondbacks were playing incredibly well, and made it to postseason and into the World Series. It annoyed me to hear people suggest that they throw the series and let the Yankees win because they had been through so much already. Arizona needed that win just as badly as New York did.
These terror attacks didn't belong to just New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. These attacks were personal to every man, woman, and child in America. I know I took it extremely personally, and I still do.
So the Diamondbacks went on to win a very wild roller coaster ride of a World Series. I think that, above all else, helped us heal. And I think by now the Yankees would admit, though piling on yet another loss, they were necessarily distracted from the grief and devastation of 9/11 and were proud of themselves for coming as far as they did in their postseason.
But getting back to 9/11 ... you'd think after ten years I'd be a little less troubled about it than I am. After all, Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are dead, the rest of the world seems to have moved on, and although I'm utterly sickened by the bottomless pit our current president has dug us into, the world is still turning, the sun still comes up every morning, and seasons still change (for those lucky enough to have seasons).
Yet, even though it has been explained to me countless times by countless different people, I still have one unsettled issue with 9/11 ... Why? I don't understand. How could real people, with real hearts and souls, with all the same body parts and organs as everyone else, even come up with a plan that evil, let alone actually carry it out?
I don't understand how a human being could bear that much hate. Maybe it's because I don't know what it's like to hate another human being. It's a foreign concept to me. This one likely-unsolvable issue has me so bothered. I don't hate the hijackers or the orchestrators. I hate the evil, and I hate what they did. And I hate the destruction and the heartache and the despair. And I'd like to kick the stuffings out of every one of them. I'm angry, I'm sickened, and I'm disgusted. But I can't hate. I don't know how.
And finally, I can't help wondering what God was going through that morning, and every day since. "Where was God through all this?" I've heard it over and over. You know what I think? As always, God was right there with every single person on the face of this earth. Each person had His full attention. Try and grasp that concept! I've talked to Him about this so many times over the past ten years and I've come to know these things for a fact: The evil that was plotted out caused Him great anguish. And the plots that were carried out made Him cry. Yes, God was actually in tears that morning.
So now the tenth anniversary of 9/11 is almost done. I haven't heard of any other attacks today that people were so worried about. But what about tomorrow? The day after? The day after that? Satan the Liar is running wild on this earth, scarfing up every extremist he can get his hands on, filling their souls with hate, and convincing them their wickedness would please God. And he's not doing this only with terrorists ... he's spreading this corruption and filth among the government and the very foundation of this 'Blessed Nation.'
Oh, my Father, things are out of control here on Your earth. Be omnipresent I pray. Keep Your hands close, and shepherd us step by step in Your path. When the path becomes too rocky and steep to go it alone anymore, please strengthen us to carry on and hold out Your hand to keep pulling us forward. And the very moment you're ready, Father, and it can't be too soon to suit me, You have a Son who's anxiously awaiting Your "Let's roll." Amen.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Suaimhneas Síoraí, Barb

Today, the world lost a beautiful lady. And while I'm deeply saddened that I won't be seeing her around here anymore, my soul is singing for joy that it won't be long till I'm seeing her around Heaven.
Barbara was amazing! She was a school teacher for many years, already retired by the time I got to know her. I don't remember the first time I met her but there was a pretty cool story behind why I met her.
I was raised Southern Baptist. The only time I set foot in a Methodist church was to get married because, at the time, I didn't have a church home. But I soon found a Baptist church to join, and that's where Mike and I raised our children. Then, quite unexpectedly, things turned miserable. Going to church became an unwelcome chore. God was clearly calling me away from there. Since I had nowhere else to go, I went with Mike to his parents' church, a Methodist church, and fought tooth and nail against joining. "I'm a Baptist. I've always been a Baptist. No way I'm joining a Methodist church." But God kept tugging on my heart until my stubbornness gave way and I was ready to listen. It took a lot of getting used to, particularly with a lady pastor, but I grew to love it more and more until I had no more doubts about joining up. Barb was choir director there so I knew of her, and waved or said hello to her on occasion, but had never really met her.
Inside of a year, my health took a drastic downward turn. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. And then undiagnosed. And then diagnosed again. And on and on the cycle went until I was at the brink of losing my mind! That's when Barbara stepped in. She had had MS for twenty years. She had already been through exactly what I was going through, and she took me right under her wing without so much as a second thought.
The reason I had been led to the Methodist faith had been revealed. God knew what I'd need down the road a whole year in advance, and he set me up for it.
Barb saw me through many many years of the uncertainty of declining health, the most frightening time of my life. Even when I was finally diagnosed as having had several strokes, not MS, I was still having the same kinds of neurological symptoms and I'd still be running to her when it got too tough to handle.
I learned a lot from Barb. Perhaps it was because she was a teacher, but I think more likely it was because she was a Christian. She taught me how to pray when I couldn't find any words. I learned how to use Jesus's strength when I had none of my own. But what I think was most important, was that it's okay to cry and get depressed as long as it doesn't last very long. She'd let me cry and whine awhile, and then said, just like a stern teacher, "All right, that's enough. Now straighten up and go wash your face, and get back to doing what needs to be done." She encouraged me, counseled me, and most of all, she loved me. And now, I hope I have the opportunity someday to carry over that blessing to someone else.
I haven't cried yet. I just can't. Barb is free now. No more illness, no more struggle, and no more sadness. And, being well into my fifties, I'm more and more aware that I'll be seeing her very soon, perhaps sooner than I expect.
Rest peacefully, my dear friend. I'll always keep you in my heart and in my memories.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

As Thanksgiving Approaches

Mike and me, Andy and family, and JoeyIf I could write a list of every single thing I'm thankful for, my pages would fill a library. I've done some listing on facebook, one thing I'm thankful for every day, just as many of my friends are doing. And doing that has made me dig way down deep into my own heart and really ponder God's blessings in my life.
Mike has been my husband, companion, friend, provider, and true love for 32 years. The sometimes rough, rocky roads and struggles have only served to make us stronger and closer. I don't think there's a man in all the world who would put up with the things he puts up with, and I just love him all the more for it.

And look at my sons ... both have grown into strong, faithful, Godly men. They're so good to me, and they're fairly close by so I get to spend time with them. Time ... that's such a blessing in itself. They're so much more than sons now ... they're grown-up friends who still like hanging out with their old-lady mom, with a pizza and a good movie. I love that! Andy has taken a lovely wife and they've overjoyed my heart with two little grandchildren! I never knew my heart could hold that much joy! They're growing up so fast but I love watching them at each stage of their lives, and I'm so privileged to be a part of it all.

I have a comfortable, safe (as much as anyplace is), air conditioned house, with enough food in it to eat, enough clothes to wear, and enough toys to play with. And enough housework to keep my hands and mind from becoming too idle. My service dog Sophie keeps me busy with her reinforcement training, and she's great entertainment besides. I've never seen a dog with quite her attitude!

None of this is to say that I've got the world at my feet and I'm Shirley-Temple sweet and happy all the time. (Mike would even say "most of the time";) But I'm finding more and more that with age comes wisdom, and discernment between what's important and what isn't, even though I'd never have disagreed more with this when I was younger. I really enjoy being 51 years old. Despite defective eyesight and all the aches and pains and memory lapses that come with aging, I'm seeing life more clearly now than I ever have before. Family ... love ... people ... caring ... that's what it's all about.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cousins, Cousins, and More Cousins

My sons have them. My grandchildren have them. My nephews have them. Seems everyone everywhere has lots and lots of cousins. I always wished I knew mine. Most of them on my daddy's side I never met, and the ones on my mother's side I wouldn't admit to knowing even if they lived across the street.
But all that is changed now. And I'll tell you the truth ... these precious cousins I got to know over the past week were more than worth the wait!
Cousin Jim has been after me for three years to get to our family reunion in Virginia and there was always some reason I couldn't go. This year, I wouldn't make excuses. I bought a nonrefundable, nonchangeable ticket so there'd be no backing out.
I know it's dangerous to build up high expectations of any event but I couldn't help it. It's all I could think about for months. Could it be anywhere close to what I was building up in my mind?
Yes! I never met Cousin Jim before but, after ten seconds, I felt like we had been close friends all our lives. I had asked him for a recommendation of a hotel in Bristol, Tennessee where he lives, and he wouldn't hear of me, a stranger with an 80-lb dog, staying anywhere but with him. Five whole days! He and his wife Brenda just knocked themselves out for us ... such lovely people! And I'm already looking forward to any opportunity to return the favor!
At the reunion and the days following, they introduced me to the wonderful world of cousins! It was a connection and a very special closeness I hadn't expected. Though I was being introduced to most of them for the first time, the love ... the bond ... the strength of this family was as strong as it would've been if I had known them all along.
I adore my cousins! I even have second and third cousins, and the family connection with them is just as sweet.
There is a giant hole in my heart left by my daddy ... how I missed him at the reunion, especially since Edwards traits and voices are so similar in so many ways. Yeah, that part of this blessed experience was a little heart-wrenching, but there was quite the sense of healing and acceptance at the same time.
As a writer, usually better at writing words than speaking them, I'm really having trouble finding any words to express the joy in my heart right now. Never in my highest hopes for this reunion could I have imagined the feelings this has left me with. Instead of a sprinkle of blessings I dared to hope for, God gave me a downpour! He reconnected me with an aunt and uncle who have always been especially precious to me, and He showered me with cousins, cousins, and more cousins. It just couldn't have been any better than that!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blepharospasm Buster

It started two and a half years ago ... a fast-progressive deterioration of my eyes' tolerance of light. What began as wearing prescription sunglasses in the house with the lights off, over time graduated itself into clip-on shades over them, overglasses with three sticky layers inside them, and RolLenses inside of those. Talk about uncomfortable; the human face was not meant to carry up to eight layers of shades!
My general ophthalmologist sent me to every eye-related-ologist in Phoenix trying to fix this mess, and the only things they agreed on were that the problem is neurologic in nature, likely related to my strokes, and irreparable as far as they knew. I pleaded with them for light-restrictive contact lenses, and it was nothing anyone would even consider.
A month or so ago, after taking my mom grocery shopping, she returned home to a call that her eyeglasses were ready to be picked up. She told them she'd have to wait till next Tuesday to come in because that was the only time she could get transportation over to the eye center. Well, that was almost a week away and there was no reason Mike and I couldn't take her right then. Otherwise, there was no reason I'd have ever gone near that optical center. I was going to just wait in the car while Mike took her in, but it was summer in Phoenix so I ended up going inside with them. While Mom picked up her glasses, I looked around at frames that might be a little more light-blocking than the ones I was wearing. I just happened to mention that to the receptionist, who then just happened to mention it to the optometrist's wife. She did some research for me and talked to her husband, and encouraged me to come in to consult with him.

This O.D. did an exam and took a history and immediately ordered up some light-restrictive contact lenses! It didn't make sense to him why everyone else dismissed the idea and said they wouldn't help.
I picked them up yesterday and, let me tell you, THEY HELP!! I can't believe the comfort, and my tolerance of medium-strength light in the house. I can't describe the joy of losing something in the dining room and being able to turn on a light to find it! The only drawback ... my eyes aren't blue anymore, but they'll still be hidden behind prescription sunglasses so that's no big deal at all.
The difference is like night and day having them in vs. taking them out. I'm safer now that there's a little bit of tolerable light on the subject. Mike won't have to break any more toes tripping on vacuum cleaners he can't see. He and Sophie aren't destined to live in the dark for the rest of their lives! And I'm making happy dances all over the house! \o/ And the name of this eye clinic: HOPE Optical Center. Was this a God thing or what?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No Space Hoax Says Mythbusters

One thing that caught my attention tonight regarding the moon landing's fortieth anniversary was an appropriately-timed episode of Mythbusters on The Discovery Channel. The trio of mythbusters broke down all the arguments the conspiracy theorists had built up to indicate the moon landing was a hoax.
This team determined, through scientific experimentation and re-creation with vacuum chambers, G-force airplanes, and direct lighting that a boot can indeed make a viable footprint in dust even without moisture in the atmosphere. A flag will indeed keep moving for several seconds after an astronaut stops waving it around. Changes in terrain can affect horizontal and parallel shadows. The fine powder of lunar dust will indeed reflect off itself and light up something that should have been in the dark. Every one of the accusations was busted!
I have to admit I did give some thought to whether a little Hollywood played a part in the story but, after seeing Mythbusters, I'm happy to say there's no more doubt in my mind that it didn't. Sorry, conspiracy theorists ... the moon landing really happened!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Forty Years

It has been forty years since men first landed and walked on the moon. I seem to remember the actual event, but none of the Apollo missions leading up to it. Tonight, I watched coverage of it all on The Discovery Channel, up to and including the landing of the Eagle, and it was all brand new!view of Earth from the moon
Why do I not remember all this space stuff? Wasn't it talked about in school? It was current events in third through sixth grade, yet I have no recollection of most of it.
In the midst of all the Vietnam, Cuba, Russia, and cold war stories going on every evening on the news, my parents thought they were doing me a favor by shielding me from such talk. I don't remember them ever allowing me to watch the news. "It might upset her," they thought. Oh, I'm sure there had to be some things they chose to expose me to, but I don't remember many of them.
Now I wonder how many more historical events I missed out on. I doubt if a high school history class would take an old lady in her 50's but the internet would probably have more detailed information anyway. But it makes me sad that I was right there in the middle of the excitement for all those years and never knew it. Would someone please invent a time machine? And make it quick ... I have a lot to catch up on!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Won't You Come Home, Jay Leno

picture of Jay Leno
I tried to keep an open mind about Conan O'Brien filling Jay Leno's shoes. Honestly, I did. Even though I totally agreed with our local evening news, describing Conan's first monologue as "painfully not funny", I wanted to be fair; after all, it was his first show and he might've just needed to get his feet wet. Well, I'm afraid he could jump into the pool up to his eyeballs and I doubt I'd tune in again. After only three days, I just can't stand any more of him and the Tonight Show is history on my TV list. His idiocy and foolishness are not what I consider humor and I have better ways to spend my time than watching him act stupid. Granted, Leno had some pretty stupid skits himself, but half or more of them were worth watching, and his monologues were funny for the most part. To Conan's credit, he does at times bear a striking resemblance to Beavis. But as a comedian ... sorry, Conan, but you've got me singing, "Jay Leno won't you please come home."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lemon Cupcakes and Ice Cubes

picture of Lily and her beautiful curls
My precious little grandchildren, oh how I adore them.
On Tuesday I spent the day with my four-year-old granddaughter and my year-old grandson. My heart was dancing as Lily answered the door, all excited as she squealed, "Grandma! Grandma! Grandma!" She greeted me with a big hug and the prettiest smile I've ever seen.
While Mike worked with Andy around the house all day, getting things done that needed fixed or built, I spent hours with Lily and Liam, playing, chasing, watching, and thoroughly enjoying being a grandma!
I think the sweetest part of the day was when Lily brought a lemon cupcake to the table and asked me if she could share it with me. She'd break off a piece and give it to me, and break off another for herself, and on it went till the cupcake was gone.
In the afternoon, she took a cup of ice cubes outside to melt in the sun, and then came back in and read me story after story. Really, truly ... she's actually reading! When she finally went outside to check her ice cubes, they had begun to melt but the cup still had bits and pieces of ice in it. She brought them in, got a plastic spoon from one of her kitchen toys, and began feeding me the ice cubes with it. It was such a special time of sharing and snuggling, and I'll remember it for the rest of my life!
picture of year-old LiamLiam is still too little to do much aside from chasing around and exploring new ways to get himself into mischief, but I hope one day we'll have the same kinds of tender moments and priceless memories.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Holy Weekend

three crosses against a darkening skyThe Passion Of the Christ. It's a movie I wouldn't want to watch very often. For one thing, I'm afraid I'd be desensitized to its gut-wrenching content. For another, it's such a horrific movie to watch.
Tonight, I chose to watch it in lieu of Good Friday services at church. Just me, all alone, to absorb the full impact of just what Jesus went through from His prayers in Gethsamane all the way through to His death. The film was so well made with so few liberties taken, that it's absolutely believable that's how it actually went down.
The real impact of it, though, came after the movie when I pondered how that event affects my own heart, my own life, my own spirit. Although I never ever forget what Jesus went through to save me, I do tend to get busy with so many things that it loosens its grip a little. Maybe it has to be that way or, again, I'd be desensitized. I don't know.
Every once in a while, we need to stop what we're doing, tune out everything else in the world, and think. Really think about the agony, the humiliation, and the torment of the Cross. I can take it personally because, even if I was the only person on earth, past present or future, who ever committed a single teeny little sin, Jesus would've gone to the Cross anyway ... just for me, because He loves me that much.draped cross with lilies
I had some really nice prayer time outside tonight after the movie. I love to pray outside. It was windy and chilly, just lovely. Now very late tonight, my heart still feels a heaviness around it, having been so vividly reminded of Jesus's suffering. But unlike the disciples who were hiding in fear and despair that first Good Friday, I can rejoice tonight because Resurrection Day will be quickly upon us!

Monday, March 16, 2009


Saturday night at the Mesa Arts Center the Irish Rovers performed for two hours some brand new songs that I just can't wait to get my hands on in the fall, as well as some recent songs, and some old classics.
Melissa couldn't go with us so we gave the extra ticket to Joe and introduced him to the joys of Irish music and the fun of the Irish Rovers. He grew up with the song The Orange and the Green and I had to break the news to him that, as many of their concerts as we had been to, we had never heard that sung live. They just didn't sing that anymore. The afternoon before the concert I was casually talking to the Lord and I let Him know it would be really cool if they'd sing that one that night ... and they did!! My heart was dancing and praising God for answering my totally silly prayer! That song will always be special to me now; it goes to show that God cares about the little things in our lives too.
I broke tradition this time, purely unintentionally, forgetting to wear my Black Velvet Band and my gold Unicorn. Guess the ol' memory just isn't what it used to be.
I knew going in that the evening would be bittersweet. George Millar's wife Betsy passed away suddenly last June. It didn't truly hit me until we encountered the merchandise table with someone else behind it. Betsy was such a lovely lady, always friendly and smiling, and I'll always be thankful for the privilege of getting to know her over the years.
Aside from the one potentially embarrassing incident with Sophie (see Play It Again, Sophie on her Dear Sophie blog, linked at right), the evening went off beautifully and I can't wait to see these incredible Rambling Boys Of Pleasure again! To George, John, Ian, Sean, Wilcil, and a new drummer whose name I didn't catch, you guys are awesome, and here's a health to every one of you!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I'm An Audrey

Wow, this is pretty accurate. Now if I could just look like Audrey ... like that's ever going to happen! :)

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are an Audrey!

You are an Audrey -- "I am at peace"
Audreys are receptive, good-natured, and supportive. They seek union with others and the world around them.
How to Get Along with Me
  • * If you want me to do something, how you ask is important. I especially don't like expectations or pressure
  • * I like to listen and to be of service, but don't take advantage of this
  • * Listen until I finish speaking, even though I meander a bit
  • * Give me time to finish things and make decisions. It's OK to nudge me gently and nonjudgmentally
  • * Ask me questions to help me get clear
  • * Tell me when you like how I look. I'm not averse to flattery
  • * Hug me, show physical affection. It opens me up to my feelings
  • * I like a good discussion but not a confrontation
  • * Let me know you like what I've done or said
  • * Laugh with me and share in my enjoyment of life
What I Like About Being an Audrey
  • * being nonjudgmental and accepting
  • * caring for and being concerned about others
  • * being able to relax and have a good time
  • * knowing that most people enjoy my company; I'm easy to be around
  • * my ability to see many different sides of an issue and to be a good mediator and facilitator
  • * my heightened awareness of sensations, aesthetics, and the here and now
  • * being able to go with the flow and feel one with the universe
What's Hard About Being an Audrey
  • * being judged and misunderstood for being placid and/or indecisive
  • * being critical of myself for lacking initiative and discipline
  • * being too sensitive to criticism; taking every raised eyebrow and twitch of the mouth personally
  • * being confused about what I really want
  • * caring too much about what others will think of me
  • * not being listened to or taken seriously
Audreys as Children Often
  • * feel ignored and that their wants, opinions, and feelings are unimportant
  • * tune out a lot, especially when others argue
  • * are "good" children: deny anger or keep it to themselves
Audreys as Parents
  • * are supportive, kind, and warm
  • * are sometimes overly permissive or nondirective

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at

Monday, September 22, 2008

Buon compleanno, Andrea Bocelli

 small photo of Andrea Bocelli
Unwilling to set fire to my kitchen again, even in celebration of Andrea Bocelli's fiftieth birthday, I found a lovely little Italian bakery and deli up on 34th Avenue & Dunlap called Romanelli's. Their cannoli is exquisite! And it was just what we needed to top off a nice Italian dinner to mark this special occasion.
I've been privileged to see Andrea twice since his last birthday, and I'll certainly be on the lookout for any opportunity to see him again before his next one!
Happy Birthday, Andrea ... 100 di questi giorni!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What's Happening To Me?

It seems halfway into my fiftieth year on this planet that I've entered some sort of transition, and I don't think it's that menopause thing I've heard so much about. This is really weird and totally out of my character!
It all started with my volunteer work at the hospital a few weeks ago, where it's one of my jobs to inventory, restock, and order candy for the Gift Shop. One of the volunteers had put a heavy candy box on top of the Snickers box, and one bar was squished to the point where it couldn't be sold. Being my job to dispose of it properly, I tore it open and, despite my greatest effort to toss it, the whole 280 calorie bar with 14 grams of fat went right into my tummy before I knew it. With every bite my guilt grew and festered until I was thoroughly disgusted with myself. But now I wonder if that wasn't one of the best things that ever happened to me.
Since that night, I don't crave candy or cookies; I'm just not interested. I'll indulge in a Hershey Kiss a couple of times a day and, when I baked cookies with my granddaughter, I gobbled about three of them. The enjoyment is there, but not the "I'd kill for a cooky" attitude. But that's only half the story!
I spent about five days in San Jose with my beautiful niece who loves to cook. Having such fun with her in the kitchen drew out the long-buried realization that I like to cook too! Even more fun was thinking up different meal ideas and recipes. So why in this world was I spending dollar upon dollar upon dollar at restaurants which served ridiculously huge-portion meals, not to mention all the unhealthy fast food?graphic X through burger, fries, & shake It was habit; I never gave a second thought to any other alternatives. And when it comes to dessert, which I consider refusal morally wrong, I'm happy with just a little of one, not three different kinds!Giving up soda pop for water? That's crazy! But that's what happened, save for one can a day with dinner, or if I'm out and about on the road. Does this mean Del Taco, In-N-Out, and Wienerschnitzel are out the window now? IHOP and El Paso are places of the past? No more Diet Coke or Sprite Zero? No, of course not. But something tells me I won't be darkening their doorsteps three or more times a week as I have been for years upon years. Looking back, I keep asking myself why I spent so much money for so much unhealthy food ... almost as puzzling a question as "Why don't I want it anymore?"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Dream Come True

August 27 ... I had looked forward to it since the day my granddaughter was born ... to when she and I could bake cookies together someday. Well, today was that someday, as we drove out to Andy and Melissa's house to play with Lily and Liam for an afternoon. I brought all the ingrediments with me for half a batch of Toll House cookies. Lily helped me get everything all together and we got right to work. She carefully mixed the ingrediments together (ingrediments=Joey'ism) and scraped all around the bowl, only relying on Grandma for the muscle work that a petite almost-four-year-old couldn't quite manage herself. But the real trick was putting the dough on the cooky sheet and leaving it there, once this little lass after my own heart discovered the delights of chocolate chip cooky dough! We were lucky to have any left for cookies! Finally, I finished up while Lily played campout with a Wiggles blanket and a half dozen or so stuffed animals. But she was the one who actually made the cookies. I've used that same recipe for years and years. Funny how today's cookies tasted twice as sweet!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tribute To A Dear Sister

I don't even remember the first time I met Carol. You know how it is with teenagers right after high school graduation, who are embarking on their own life adventures. There wasn't much on my mind except the fellow I had a huge crush on, and shoving off to Montana to be on my own!
photo of Mom, Tom, Carol, Daddy, and me at Carol's weddingIn April of 1976, I was living once again in Arizona and made the five-hour trek from Sierra Vista to Phoenix for my brother Tom's wedding. In a small ceremony at Carol's mother's house, I gained a new sister.
That summer, I visited them before I'd be moving away again, back to Montana. One evening during that visit, though, Carol drove me to the top of South Mountain and, as we looked over Phoenix with its millions of lights, she changed the course of the rest of my life! "I don't want you to go back to Montana," she told me. "I want you to move up here. You can stay with us till you get a job and find a place of your own."
In those couple of months that I stayed with Tom and Carol, she taught me so much! I was so naïve and immature, but everything I watched and learned from her I kept hidden in the back of my heart till I'd need it.
A year later I became engaged to Mike and we married in November of 1977. It took many years to bring forth all Carol had taught me about caring for a husband but, eventually, it all came out and brought me through some pretty tough years. Now, thirty years later, I have the happiest marriage of anyone I've ever met. When I told her that, she said, "It's the Italian way." There are too many examples to cite individually, but it all centered around serving. That's right ... being a good servant. But before liberated women around the world start throwing their mops and dishcloths at me, let me explain. The more I treat my husband like a king, doing everything I can to make him happy in his home, ensuring his comfort and that all his needs are met, and keeping my eyes constantly open for anything I can do for him ... my reward from him is far greater than anything I've ever done for him. It might sound awfully one-sided but, believe me, it's not.
Even pushing fifty years old I tended to be a little naïve. Carol would be around forever, I thought. Even when she had cancer, there was no doubt in my mind she'd beat it. But it soon became apparent that wasn't going to happen. Early in 2006, her doctor gave her 2-10 months to live.
photo of Carol and me at the top of the Stratosphere in VegasThanks to Mike's airline job, I could zip up to Las Vegas often, and I'll always be thankful for that! I could spend time with Carol for a few days every month or two, and we enjoyed many outings together, and a lot of quality talk time. The 2-10 months disappeared far behind us and she was still going strong. I'll swear till my dying day it was because she refused the chemo.
Late in 2007, though, Carol began to slow down. She was in pain as the cancer was taking its toll. Any exertion would wear her out and put her in bed for hours. But still, she wanted to keep going. photo of Carol at LaCreperie at Paris Las VegasEvery time I'd come up, we'd find our way to Paris-Las Vegas to get crêpes. That was our thing, and she insisted we keep it up as long as physically possible.
"When it comes time," she asked of me, "will you come?" I promised I would. And she promised she'd wait for me.
Then it came, the phone call last Monday morning. Mike and I threw things into the van and drove to Las Vegas, which was faster than flying in the long run. I prayed all the way up there that we'd make it in time to say goodbye, and she'd know I was there.
God answered my prayers. I made it in time, and she knew I was there. I held her hand to my cheek, and told her how much I loved her, and thanked her for being such a treasure in my life. I promised to take care of my brother. I told her she'd be home in just a few minutes. It would be oh so sad for us, but she'd feel so good, and she couldn't imagine how beautiful things would be! Just a few more kisses later, and Carol flew away, leaving all her pain and cancer behind.
Much sooner than we think, we'll all be together again. Life here on this earth is like a vapor. It's here. It's gone. Waiting for heaven may seem like forever, but it's only one heartbeat away. One heartbeat.
photo of Tom and Carol in heartier days"Thank You, Lord, for placing this precious woman in my life. Thank You for using her to shape so much of what my life is now. Welcome her now to Your home, and comfort those of us who must go on without her. Help us remember that she's only one heartbeat away. Amen."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

clip art showing fence and cute birdhouses with Thursday Thirteen underneath

Thankfully, there have been many moments in my life when my heart had no room for anything other than pure joy ... moments of being overcome by awe, when all else in the world was shut out and I felt as close to Heaven as I could get with my feet still planted on the earth.
1. The moment Jesus entered my life and my heart, there were no doubts, no fears, and no questions. My life was all brand new! ... 2. Holding my newborn sons in my arms for the first time, I paid such close attention to every little movement to make sure I remembered each one forever. ... 3. After finally being diagnosed and treated for clinical depression, the heavy shroud I had lived under was finally lifted and I rose to find a whole new world worth living in. ... 4. I was so thrilled when my boys, Andy and Joe, graduated from high school, but more so it was the decent, hard-working, Godly men they had grown into. ... 5. After Joey was born, God promised me that, someday, I'd know what it was like to have a daughter; He promised me a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter. I questioned that for many years but, the evening Andy betrothed Melissa, I realized I was about to become a mom again, to a grown-up daughter! Nothing is more awesome than seeing God's promises being fulfilled right in front of your eyes! ... 6. Andy and Melissa's wedding was the most beautiful I had ever seen. At their reception, their first dance was to "Everything I Do, I Do It For You", and I knew they meant it. ... 7. Sighting the Sacré Couer from a train window was my first assurance that we had indeed arrived in Paris, France; then, a day or so later, my dream came true, finally reaching the top of the Eiffel Tower. ... 8. An extra-special poem Melissa gave me told me the baby she was carrying was confirmed to be a girl, something almost unheard of in our family. Again, even as I questioned God, He proved Himself faithful in His promise of a granddaughter. ... 9. Every note was angelic as lullaby chimes over a hospital PA system announced the birth of my first grandchild, Lily. ... 10. I had waited 45 years to see the aurora borealis, and my first sighting of it took me completely by surprise! And it was even a not-so-common red and blue one! ... 11. After almost 24 years of marriage, my husband knelt and proposed to me as we gazed at the neverending flow of water at the very edge of Niagara Falls. 12. Rocking my newborn grandson, Liam, the feeling compared to rocking my own baby sons. ... And all these precious moments made way for another one last night. 13. It was National Day Of Prayer and our family gathered at church for a special worship and prayer service. Amid so many of my dearest Christian friends, many of whom I hadn't seen in quite some time, Joe was at the piano, my dear mother-in-law was by my side, and Andy's beautiful family was seated right behind me. The music was so sweet and the Spirit of God flowed among His people. The sermon was delivered by one of the finest pastors I ever had, and left me hungering for more time in prayer, away from all the distractions that have too often left me with little time for more than a quick moment of meditation here and there. My little granddaughter came and sat with me for a time; being three years old her attention wanders easily and I was all too happy to have her come sit by me. After the sermon we rose to sing "Open My Eyes That I May See" and that's when it happened ... I held her in my arms and she cuddled close and sang right along! Then, singing together, she put her arms around my neck with the sweetest smile I've ever seen in my life. There's just nothing quite like a little child singing about God, and I'll hold that blessed moment in my heart forever.

3 January 2008 ~~~ TO-DO LIST FOR 2008:
1. welcome my new grandson in about two weeks ... 2. go to Montana to visit my sister ... 3. make a serious effort to see the Northern Lights one more time ... 4. go to Philadelphia with my son to get a cheesesteak ... 5. improve my Braille skills ... 6. work and play more with my dog ... 7. organize my 10,000+ digital pictures ... 8. organize my house, including kitchen and pantry ... 9. repaint and retile bathrooms ... 10. finish writing my book ... 11. travel to someplace I've never been before ... 12. lose one pound a month ... 13. scan as many photos as possible and convert them to digital.

18 October 2007 ~~~ HEAVENLY DAYS: Call it Heaven, the New Earth, the hereafter, or wherever else your faith takes you, but here are a few attributes of this eternal glory awaiting those whose hearts belong to Jesus Christ: 1. roses won't have thorns ... 2. there'll be more trees than even I can imagine ... 3. it'll be cool and crisp and clean ... 4. there'll be many brand new colors we've never seen or imagined before ... 5. chocolate won't have calories; in fact, nothing will ... 6. animals will roam free among us ... 7. we won't have to wonder anymore what the animals have been thinking ... 8. there'll only be one language, if one is even needed at all ... 9. this language will contain no swear words; yippee! ... 10. there'll be no such thing as time ... 11. no allergies or hiccups ... 12. there'll be music unlike anything we've ever heard ... 13. we'll finally understand how incredibly complex God really is, and also how simple.

1. butt-scooting (before Lily began to walk or even crawl, she scooted on her butt anywhere she wanted to go; if I could do that I could lose that fifty pounds in nothing flat.) ... 2. gets a boo-boo, kisses it herself, and says "all better" ... 3. instead of cake or dessert, she wants more vegetables ... 4. walks all the way to the kitchen, picks up a dog food kibble, walks back into the living room, feeds it to Sophie, and then repeats the process over and over and over and over ... 5. dips a French Fry in ketchup and eats the other end ... 6. watches Sophie catch soap bubbles in her mouth and tries to catch them the same way ... 7. goes to the car wash, cries when she's in it, and then wants to go again ... 8. recites entire Disney movies and Wiggles videos ... 9. this little Trekkie is traumatized by a separating or exploding Enterprise ... 10. replicates with Legos the things she's afraid of (like car washes) ... 11. helps with laundry by using the loo as a washing machine ... 12. if she's into mischief and Mommy comes in, she waves and says, "Bye bye, Mommy" ... 13. makes it "snow" in the house if someone leaves the sugar out and she gets hold of it.

31 May 2007 ~~~ THINGS I'D LIKE TO LEARN SOMEDAY (thanks, Courtney, for the idea)
1. good housekeeping ... 2. speed-reading ... 3. manicuring ... 4. Microsoft Excel ... 5. geocaching and letterboxing ... 6. constellations ... 7. Spanish, French, and Italian ... 8. canine freestyle ... 9. Scottish highland dancing and games ... 10. "computer-ese" ... 11. veterinary care ... 12. piano ... 13. tin whistle

In a conscious effort to make the best out of the worst, here are a few good things about summertime in Phoenix: 1. sweet corn at roadside stands, fabulous! ... 2. cherry season too, yummy ... 3. our trees bear the most wonderful peaches ... 4. our garden produces bumper crops of zucchini which means only one thing, zucchini bread ... 5. being forced to stay inside, I get more done around the house ... 6. I don't have to worry about overchilling Sophie when I give her a bath at 11pm ... 7. genuine appreciation for any chance to get out of town ... 8. in an effort not to heat up the kitchen, we get a lot more outdoor BBQ cooking ... 9. desert monsoons, so beautiful and so welcome ... (Aug 1 ... What in the world was I thinking??!! Being in the middle of monsoon season, which does nothing to cool the valley down but hikes up the humidity to unbearable, I find absolutely nothing good about it!) ... 10. Sophie gets to play in her pool ... 11. paint dries faster ... 12. mail carriers like to start out very early to avoid the afternoon heat so we get our mail earlier in the day ... (come on, Wendy, one more, you can do it) ... 13. orange blossoms, such a wonderful scent, even though it only lasts a few weeks in early summer.

19 April 2007 ~~~ PET PEEVES
1. hearing God's name used in vain ... 2. people who try to fix things that aren't broken ... 3. irresponsible pet owners/stray dogs ... 4. jealousy ... 5. greed ... 6. anything to do with the sun or summer ... 7. presumptive people who don't listen ... 8. disrespect of people, especially children and elderly ... 9. my own defective brain function ... 10. people who overprotect me ... 11. loud rap, acid rock, or other excessive "musical" noise ... 12. people who think the laws are made for somebody else ... 13. unruly children and their parents who allow them to be that way. (easy to see I live in a big city, right?)

1. Aurora Borealis again ... 2. Aurora Australis ... 3. Swiss Alps ... 4. Coastal Maine ... 5. North Pole ... 6. Autumn in New England ... 7. Mt. Airy, NC for Mayberry Days ... 8. Titanic relics exhibit ... 9. London, England ... 10. Mini-Europe in Brussels ... 11. Go to Scotland and find out more about Lord Fergus McCubbin (16G grandfather) ... 12. Travel cross-country with Mike ... 13. Finish writing current novel.

1. Pickles ... 2. Drabble ... 3. Frank & Ernest ... 4. Nancy ... 5. Born Loser ... 6. BC ... 7. Crabby Road (Maxine) ... 8. That's Life ... 9. Moderately Confused ... 10. Off the Mark ... 11. Reality Check ... 12. Speed Bump ... 13. Strange Brew.

22 February 2007 ~~~ TV TIME
1. MASH ... 2. Becker ... 3. Andy Griffith Show ... 4. Law & Order ... 5. Law & Order SVU ... 6. Crossing Jordan ... 7. Las Vegas ... 8. Little House On the Prairie ... 9. Dragnet ... 10. Dick Van Dyke Show ... 11. Animal Planet, Most Extreme ... 12. Happy Days ... 13. Gilligan's Island.

1. Sogno ... 2. Tu Ci Sei ... 3. Sempre O Mai ... 4. Non Servono Parole ... 5. Un Nuovo Giorno ... 6. Romanza ... 7. Sin Tu Amor ... 8. Sempre Sempre ... 9. Mille Luna, Mille Onde ... 10. Il Mare Calmo Della Sera ... 11. L'Attesa ... 12. Il Mistero Dell'Amore ... 13. L'Abitudine.

1. Andrea Bocelli ... 2. Irish Rovers ... 3. Andrea Bocelli ... 4. Statler Brothers ... 5. Andrea Bocelli ... 6. George Strait ... 7. Andrea Bocelli ... 8. The Beatles ... 9. The Ventures ... 10. ABBA ... 12. Nelson Eddy ... 13. Andrea Bocelli.

1 February 2007 ~~~ CANDY COUNTER FAVORITES:
1. Snickers ... 2. Twix Caramel ... 3. Kit Kat ... 4. Hershey Almond ... 5. Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ... 6. Payday ... 7. Take 5 ... 8. Snickers Almond ... 9. Gummi Bears ... 10. Caramello ... 11. M&M's plain ... 12. Milky Way ... 13. Skittles.
25 January 2007 ~~~ FAVORITE MOVIES:
(in alphabetical order)
1. A League Of Their Own ... 2. Back To The Future I, II, & III ... 3. Charlotte's Web ... 4. Flight Of The Navigator ... 5. Jesus ... 6. The Lakehouse ... 7. Men In Black I & II ... 8. National Treasure ... 9. Naughty Marietta ... 10. Pure Country ... 11. Space Camp ... 12. Titanic ... 13. While You Were Sleeping.

18 January 2007 ~~~ FAVORITE BEANIE BABIES:
1. Leaves the autumn bear ... 2. Grandma & Grandpa bears (set) ... 3. Twitch the guinea pig ... 4. Bushy the lion ... 5. Charlie the monkey ... 6. Zoomer the monkey ... 7. Nami the rhinoceros ... 8. Lollipup the white dog ... 9. Spotters the leopard cub ... 10. Minxy the bunny ... 11. Serenity the dove ... 12. Carnation the kitty ... 13. Hairy the tarantula.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

How I Spent The Evening Of Andrea Bocelli's Birthday

small picture of the handsome Andrea BocelliThe purpose of this blog entry is to prove conclusively that, just because you can read a recipe and follow it to the letter, doesn't mean you can cook.
After serving an Italian chicken dinner late in the afternoon in commemoration of Andrea Bocelli's 49th birthday, I gathered all my cookware, mixing bowls, utensils, and ingredients for my first attempt at building cannoli. Working nicely through my defective eyesight, I let the bread maker do the messy work at mixing the dough, only to read later that the beaten egg is supposed to be brushed on the outside of the pastry before frying, not mixed into the dough. The oil was already hot and I figured it couldn't hurt to at least try to see if it would work anyway. It didn't. No problem; I just rebuilt the dough according to the recipe, minus the egg, and while that was mixing I chopped the chocolate chips and some maraschino cherries to put in with the ricotta cheese mixture. Then I dumped the new dough out of the bread machine onto the counter, wondering what in the world I was going to do with all those crumbs. Hey, the recipe said press them together so that's what I did. I came up with ONE usable pastry so, very carefully, I slipped it into the hot oil. By that time, it was unwise to continue working in dim light so I turned the overheads on; I don't know what was worse, the pain and glare from the lights or the horrible mess I was making with the oil. The pastry came out looking like a shortbread cookie that met up with a steam roller ... pretty pathetic it was. The rest of the dough was deemed hopeless after I tried once more to make another one before the oil started smoking and spilling out onto the burner causing a moment of panic as flames began shooting up from the side of the pan. Even Signor Bocelli would agree it might have been a nice thought but it was time to quit, especially with the smoke alarm drowning out a half a CD of his music. All is quiet now, except the dishwasher graciously cleaning up half the mess I made. When it's finished, I have another load ready for it to start all over again. And what about the greasy mess? Guess that's why God invented Dawn dishwashing liquid. Next year I'll get my cannoli at Carraba's.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rhinoceros Revisited

photo of two rhinos relaxing in the mud at Reid Park Zoo
On Monday when Mike and I drove Mom down to Tucson to get her taxes done, we picked up Andy and Lily on the way and made a day of it at the Reid Park Zoo. Showing up with a service dog, I had a chance to talk to one of the park supervisors to receive instructions on where not to go with Sophie. Just out of curiosity, I asked about the rhinos and how long they've been there. He said the two of them arrived in 1978! The rhinoceros whose feelings I hurt was the same one I apologized to, and was the same one who I got to talk to this time. The weather was heating up so it was no surprise that they didn't care to leave their cool mud bath but, when I began talking to them, their ears were moving in circles as they took it all in. With no one else around to call the men in the little white coats to take away that crazy woman who talks to animals, I reassured them that they're two of the most beautiful creatures God ever created. When I stopped talking, their ears stopped moving ... three or four times that happened. Did they understand what I was saying? You never know!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

My Own Advice

fairy hideous photo of me with bobbed hairphoto of a 15-inch long severed ponytail lying on a shelf, ready to be donated to Locks Of Love
Well, it almost happened ... there was almost a time when I was happy I cut my hair. While on R&R in Vegas, I took leave of my senses and look what I did! I loved it ... for a few days, until it came time to wash it and blow dry it and curl it and worry about getting it wet ... what a pain! Was I stupid or what? It looks fine as long as I put a lot of work into it, but oh how I miss the wash it, braid it, sleep on it, and it's done. No work, no fuss, no worry. Oh, well ... two more years and I'll have it back and, meanwhile, maybe a young child will be able to put it to good use through Locks Of Love. Why is it I've never been able to remember my own advice, even with so much experience behind it? SIGH!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Regarding The Rhinoceros

I've been asked to relate the tale of the rhino's hurt feelings ... Well ...

This story convinced me beyond all doubt that animals understand every word we say. I took my little boys to Reid Park Zoo in Tucson when they were very young. As we reached the white rhino enclosure, one of them walked over to the edge like he was trying to be friendly. Right up close, I looked him square in the face and told him he was the ugliest creature I had ever seen in my life. I'm telling you the truth ... his head hit the ground. He was crushed!! He turned and walked away, leaving me with the worst case of the guilts that lingered for several years. One day we went back to the zoo and a rhino (who knows if it was even the same one) was already grazing over by the fence. If I thought I could've gotten away with it, I'd have jumped the fence and given that animal a hug. Instead, I told him how very very sorry I was for making such a cruel remark ... he really wasn't ugly in the least. God made him very special and very beautiful, and he should be proud to be a rhinoceros. He looked at me and, no kidding, he raised his head up, his eyes were twinkling, and I thought he was going to dance! I'm still ashamed to have made the unkind remark in the first place but I was grateful for the chance to atone for it, and now I have a genuine appreciation for rhinos as the truly unique animals God created them to be.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

50 Little Factoids About Me

1--Jesus is first in my life.
2--Family is second.
3--I'm a very happily married homemaker.
4--There aren't very many things I like better than chocolate.
5--I'm not afraid of color but I hate orange.
6--There has never been a time when I was happy I cut my hair.
7--I can't be bothered with make-up.
8--Star-gazing on a dark night is awesome!
9--There are 814 Beanie Babies in my bedroom.
10--I've kissed my husband at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
11--I'm highly allergic to the sun.
12--My nephew's six cats are all named after comic book characters.
13--Some amount of alone time every day is an absolute must-have.
14--I'm a descendant of Lord Fergus McCubbin of Scotland.
15--The only thing purely Irish in me is my temper.
16--For the most part, I prefer being quiet and invisible.
17--My brother is a slot machine tech at a casino in Vegas.
18--I dabble a little bit in quilting but generally hate sewing.
19--I adore waterfalls.
20--I kept guinea pigs for sixteen years.
21--I used to be afraid of heights and flying but not anymore.
22--I'm fairly proficient at Braille.
23--I have a moral aversion to dunking Oreo cookies in milk.
24--Anything with mayonnaise or equiv is disgusting, including ranch dressing.
25--I'm at my functional best when it's between 50 and 60 degrees.
26--My husband proposed to me 23 years after we got married.
27--I've seen Aurora Borealis but would love to see it once more before I die.
28--I can play a bodhrán (an Irish frame drum) ... not an expert, just basic.
29--My sister is a professional dog whisperer and trainer.
30--I've been creatively writing since age 8.
31--I'm severely monofocal.
32--Volunteering at the hospital gift shop is my "playtime".
33--99% of the time I despise wearing dresses.
34--I love dollar stores.
35--I've written one novel and am currently working on its prequel/sequel.
36--The first novel took fifteen years to write.
37--I have over 24 million points at Bejeweled 2, Endless.
38--I've won over 100 ribbons at the AZ State Fair.
39--Through trial and error for a year, I developed a perfect zucchini bread recipe... obviously I love to bake.
41--I know how to decorate cakes.
42--My favorite Baskin-Robbins flavor is German Chocolate Cake.
43--There are 11 years between my sister and me.
44--My sister was married 11 years before me.
45--There are nearly 11 years between my sister's oldest son and mine.
46--There are nearly 11 years between my sister's youngest son and mine.
47--My AZ living room is decorated like a Pacific NW wildlife lodge.
48--I once hurt a rhinoceros's feelings and atoned for it years later.
49--I hate practical jokes.
50--I'm addicted to Fill-It-In puzzles.

and a bonus 51--On our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband and I reaffirmed our marriage vows, of all places, outside the cell house at Alcatraz. (We decided on our trip to San Francisco that, wherever we were at 1:30pm on our anniversary day, we'd renew our vows there ... and that's where we were.)