Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What is Christmas All About?

Celebrating the greatest gift ever given -- that's what Christmas is all about. Charlie Brown figures it out at the end of the movie when Linus quotes the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke:

"'8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"
"......That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

How about trying to give one gift every day during the month of December. You don't even need to go shopping.

Hold the door for a stranger. Write a letter to someone who needs to know how much they mean to you. Forgive someone who doesn't deserve to be forgiven. Take a bag to Goodwill. Leave an enormous tip. Take cookies to a new neighbor. Buy coffee for the person in line behind you. Be patient with your annoying relatives. Take someone else's grocery cart back. Make a Christmas gift for someone instead of buying one. Look up an old classmate and reconnect. Frame a special photo for someone. Fill up somone's gas tank. Leave a book in a waiting room for someone to pick up (tuck a note inside). Take a day off work in the middle of the week to spend time with your family. Keep close parking spaces open for those who need them.

Ideas from: 101 simple & thoughtful ways to give this Christmas away by Matthew West.

Monday, November 29, 2010

No Boring Ball Ornaments Here

Our Christmas tree is loaded. Even though it is 10 ft. tall, we couldn't fit all my ornaments on it. This is a collection that has outgrown its container. I need to downsize when I pack everything up. Peter makes fun of some of the ornaments I have collected (the Outhouse ornament, for instance). Wait and see...they will be fighting over my ornaments when I'm gone. Although I try not to collect more, each year I find one or two I can't pass up. This year, it was the Diet Coke can ornament.

Some ornaments are from my childhood Christmas tree. They are very old... ancient, in fact. Some ornaments have sentimental value, like the one my grandmother made for me the year before she died. Many of them are from trips we have taken. Some bring back memories of events in the past...like the one of Buzz Lightyear. When Daniel was in Kindergarten, he thought he could be like Buzz Lightyear. He jumped off our coffee table on top of a big ball. Instead of bouncing up in the air like Buzz, the ball rolled out and Daniel practically had a concussion from hitting the back of his head on the table.

Here are just a few I will share with you:


The RV (to commemorate the trip that
almost killed us)


The Nun (I did attend Catholic
School for seven years)


















Captain Kirk (this one just reminds me of Don)


The Troll (we collected these
like they collect Beanie Babies now)























Chinese Fish (Crystal brought
this back for me when she adopted
her daughter Meizi from China)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tree Lighting

Don loves putting lights on the tree. He is meticulous about it. The tree is 10 ft. tall, so there are many strings of lights that must go up. First he starts with the white lights. He strings the entire tree with white lights. Then he adds strings of colored lights. Each year, it takes him several hours to do this.

That's why I brought up a suggestion today. I suggested that we buy a pre-lit tree. It could still be 10 ft. tall. It would be so simple to set up and take down. You would have thought I suggested we have no tree at all. He would have none of it. He insisted that putting up this tree with all the strings of lights was no bother.

I sure wouldn't want to do it, but he doesn't seem to mind. Daniel chimed in and said he would definately have a pre-lit tree when he has his own place. Many years of assisting Don with this job has helped him come to that decision. Daniel has gotten so good at helping Don he can multi-task. Here he is holding the ladder with one foot, sending a text message and reading his book all at the same time. 

I told Don I didn't want him on that ladder when he is 70. It would be too risky. He said don't worry, by then I'll just call my two sons over to do it. That's when I think the two sons will chip in and buy us a pre-lit tree.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Christmas Closet

Black Friday at our house is also Christmas Closet Day. It's the day when I have to open the little door where our Christmas decorations are stored. It's the day Don brings the 10 ft. artificial tree up from the basement and strings the lights.

The Christmas closet is in the guest room above our garage. We have three little closets in the corners of the room. When we built our house, the builder suggested we use up every bit of space by finishing off little closets where there would otherwise be insulation. The closets have mini doors and low ceilings. More than one time, I was crouched over getting something from a closet when I stood up and banged my head on the door frame. Nothing hurts quite like that! The other two closets are designated "camping stuff" and "luggage".

Most of our Christmas decorations fit in the Christmas closet. All the ornaments, wrapping paper, boxes, etc. live there 11 months out of the year. During the year, if I buy a gift for someone for Christmas, I put it in the Christmas closet so I don't forget about it. My kids aren't nosy types, so I don't have to worry about them peeking. Well...I might have to worry about Daniel.

Looking into the closet right now makes me want to take a nap. I'm exhausted just thinking about decorating. It's going to take a few days, so I might as well get started.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving

I ate too much! Most everyone did. It's hard not to sample everything in the buffet spread. I had to taste the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, spinach casserole, asparagus casserole, broccoli casserole, cole slaw, roll, stuffing... Good thing I skipped lunch. Although we had pumpkin pie, apple crisp, blueberry cake and two kinds of cookies, I only had a slice of blueberry cake. I was only going to have one slice, but I confess I went back later and had another. Ugggh. Tomorrow's a new day.


Katherine and Riley reunited

 I'll wake up early, get on the treadmill and burn off a few extra calories. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to venture out and do some early morning shopping. Tonight I will go to sleep early being thankful for many things. I'm thankful I had food to eat today, thankful for family to eat it with, and thankful we could all be together.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Baptism

Crystal and I stayed the night with Taffy on Saturday. We got up early Sunday morning to go to Taffy's church. It was a big day for Taffy. She was getting baptized, and we were happy to be there to support her. Three people from The Bible Chapel were baptized during the service. After the three church members were baptized, the pastor spoke about the meaning of what they had just done.

Baptize is an untranslated Greek word that means "to immerse". When a person is immersed in the water during baptism, it represents the death, burial and resurrection of Christ as well as the death, burial and resurrection of the person being baptized. Being baptized does not forgive sin. The person being baptized has already been forgiven by placing his trust in Christ's death to do that for him. Baptism is a beautiful picture of the gospel.

I already knew all this before Taffy's pastor explained it. I became a Christian almost 20 years ago by placing my faith in Jesus. However, I didn't always agree with the need to be baptized. I had water sprinkled over my forehead when I was a baby, and I thought that was good enough. Over the years, I have read more and more about the reason for baptism, and about a year ago, I was convinced that I needed to do it. Baptism was a command from Jesus. In the Bible, whenever someone believed in Christ, the next step was baptism.

Then the pastor did something I'd find out later he had never done before. He asked if there was anyone in the congregation who was ready to be baptized right now. I hesitated for a second because my family wasn't there, but the next second I stood up and walked to the center isle. I couldn't help myself. Six or seven more people lined up behind me. There were at least 1,000 people in the service. 
 
I didn't care that I was in my church clothes. I pulled off my knee-high stockings, shoes, necklace and vest. I walked up a few steps and into the water. The pastor asked me if I believed in Jesus Christ as my Savior. When I said "yes", he tipped me back in the water, lifted me up, and I was baptized. It shouldn't have taken me 20 years to get to this point. Sometimes I'm a slow learner.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Taffy's House


Photo by Taffy via Facebook
After shopping all day Saturday, Crystal and I headed to our friend Taffy's house in Pittsburgh. Taffy moved to Pittsburgh two years ago when her husband's job was transferred. Their house was in a very pretty, hilly neighborhood.
Bill was in the middle of cooking a fine dinner for us. I was surprised to find out that Bill cooks dinner most nights. I made a note to talk to Don about that.

On the table was a spread of Spinach Salad with warm bacon dressing, Pork Chops and Sweet Potato Fries. I was pretty hungry, so I had a taste of everything. After dinner, we had some tea and Bill pulled the most delicious cake out of the oven. It was called Blueberry Cornmeal Cake. It came from BonAppetit.com/May 2010. Someone had written in asking for the recipe from Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe in Santa Monica, CA. It was unbelievably good. I plan to make it for Thanksgiving. Here is the recipe:

Blueberry Cornmeal Cake

1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. yellow cornmeal
2 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
6 T. vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 T. vanilla extract
1 t. honey
10 T. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. plus 3 T. sugar, divided
1 1/2 t. salt
1 c. ricotta cheese
1/3 c. plain yogurt
3 c. fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 10-inch diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Whisk flour and next three ingredients in medium bowl. Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla and honey in another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, 3/4 c. plus 2 T. sugar and salt in large bowl until creamy. With mixer running on medium speed, gradually add egg mixture; beat to blend. Beat in flour mixture just to blend. Add ricotta and yogurt; beat on low speed just to blend. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Scatter 1 1/2 c. blueberries over. Spoon remaining batter over in dollops, then spread to cover blueberries. Scatter remaining blueberries over. Sprinkle remaining 1 T. sugar over.

Bake cake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bucket List: Item Number 35

I've wanted to visit an IKEA store for years. My friend, Crystal, told me the store was a most amazing place. In August, we planned a fall trip to Pittsburgh. Our first stop would be the Grove City outlets, then we would continue on to the IKEA store.

This weekend was our big outing. I thought we would stop by Grove City College to visit her son, Spencer, but our timing was off. Spencer had just arrived home on Friday for his Thanksgiving break. Grove City College was closed for the holiday. That didn't stop up from taking a drive around the campus. Crystal showed me where Spencer's dorm room was. She pointed it out by saying, "it's right up there...the one with the dirty window." All of the windows looked dirty to me, but what college student is going to spend his time washing windows?

Everyone and her sister was out shopping on Saturday. I was glad I didn't want a Coach purse. The line for those overpriced bags was out the door the entire day. Fire code kept the crowd on the sidewalk. When one person came out of the store,  another one was let in. I'm sorry, but I don't wait in lines to get inside stores. I don't care what they are selling.

I was able to get some of my Christmas shopping completed. I'd tell you what I bought, but some of my family members read this blog, and I don't want to spoil the surprise. The outlet mall did have two of my favorite stores: Chico's and Coldwater Creek. I had to control myself. I kept repeating, "you are shopping for others, you are shopping for others." In Coldwater Creek, Crystal and I fell in love with the same jacket. She found hers on the clearance rack marked down to $5.00. Unfortunately, mine was on the "just arrived" rack and was marked $68.00. With our discounts, she was able to take hers home for $3.00. I paid a whopping $40-something. What was the difference? Her jacket was missing two snaps. I think two snaps are worth $37.00, don't you?

After exhausting ourselves at the outlets, we drove another hour to IKEA. This store was a Swedish wonderland. I would recommend it to all young couples just starting out. They could easily furnish an apartment for $2,000. The furnishings are pretty nice, too. I wasn't in the market for any furnishings, so I concentrated on the cute little fun stuff. I bought some Swedish food with names like Knackenbrod Flerkorn (multigrain crispbreads), Cloetta Kex (cookies), Pagen Gifflar (cinnamon rolls), and Sylt Lingon (lingonberry preserves). I got great deals on nice dinner napkins, candle holders and Christmas tins. My favorite purchase was a cupcake pan and cute paper cups. The shape of the cupcakes is tall and narrow instead of short and round. We'll have to see how that works out.

All in all, the shopping trip was a blast. I've now checked off one item from my Bucket List. Been there, done that, IKEA!

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Trash is Riley's Treasure

I know I told you that Riley is a big boy now, and he doesn't get into wastebaskets any more. Well, I wasn't telling the whole truth. He still gets into wastebaskets sometimes. I've noticed a pattern when it comes to Riley's trash raids. He does it when he's bored -- unless, of course, there is food involved.

Here's when Riley gets into the wastebasket. If I'm home alone and need to take a shower, Riley follows me into the bathroom. (Try not to think about that too much.) As soon as I step into the shower, he heads for the wastebasket, gets something out, and shreds it. Then he lies patiently for me to finish. Or, if I settle in for a snooze on the guest room couch, Riley will head for the wastebasket in search of something to occupy his time. He knows he won't be following me around for awhile, so chewing is the next best thing.

I do provide toys for Riley to chew on, but he prefers paper and cardboard. I don't mind that he does this, except that I have to pick up his mess. He could have worse habits.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spoons

These are my three rules about collections:

1. They must stop when the container in which they are held if full.
2. The collected items must be small.
3. The collected items must be useful.

Who wants to be overtaken by a house full of angel, owl or flying pig paraphernalia? 

I will admit to collecting a few things. I have a teapot collection (because I love drinking tea), a button collection (because I love to sew) and a spoon collection (because ... well, I'm not really why).

The spoons have been accumulating for about 24 years. A few years into collecting spoons, I found this lovely spoon holder in an antique store. I decided that the spoon collection would have to stop when the container got full.  Each time we traveled somewhere, I would go into the souvenir shop and buy a little spoon.

I have a spoon from Yellowstone, Williamsburg, Greenbrier and the Badlands. There is a spoon from Gettysburg, Pebble Beach, Ellis Island and the White House. In all, I have collected 60 spoons. Included in this collection are each of the kids' Gerber baby spoons.

If I had to choose a favorite, it would be my Library of Congress spoon. I have fond memories of dragging my family those few extra blocks on a 95 degree, 100% humidity day to visit this historic site when we traveled to Washington D.C. I just had to see it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rainy Day Chicken

What do you do when you were planning on grilling chicken breasts and it decides to rain? You might get out your raincoat and umbrella and grill anyway. Not me. I don't like to stand in the rain and flip food.

Tonight was one of those rainy nights, so I whipped out my handy- dandy, rainy-day recipe for chicken. All you need to do is keep one ingredient on hand, and you will be set to serve chicken on a rainy day. Keep a can of French's Original French Fried Onions in your pantry. They are good for more than the traditional Thanksgiving green bean casserole. There are only 4 ingredients.

2 cups French's Original French Fried Onions
2 T. flour
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 eggs, beaten

Put the onions and the flour in a large, heavy ziploc bag. Smash them with a meat mallet or something heavy until they are crushed. Pour the onions in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, beat two eggs. Dip the chicken in the eggs, then dip the chicken in the onions. Place chicken in a baking pan coated with PAM. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, depending on how thick your chicken is.

This is very tasty. Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Cast Iron Pot

Don bought this little French Oven for me several years ago for Christmas. Don't worry, I asked for it. He would have been a real heel if he had gotten it for me otherwise. I wanted to do a little soup cooking and had heard that the enameled cast iron pan was the way to go. These LeCreuset pots are pretty expensive, so I have never ventured into getting a larger one until now when I've come across some recipes that require a 5-quart pot.

I've been keeping my eye out for one, but the 5- quart pot retails for $250! I wouldn't pay that much for a pot if my life depended on it. Lo and behold I found one at Marshall's for $50. Granted, it doesn't have the LeCreuset label, but it is a Cuisinart. It looks just like the real deal, and it weighs a ton to boot. A plus is that the knob on the lid is made out of metal, so you can heat it in the oven to 500 degrees.

A word of caution to those of you who may be as clueless as me: do not store these pots on a high shelf! I learned the hard way. I was reaching for the blue pot one day, and the lid slid off the pot. It came tumbling down and hit me right on the crown. I am still alive and did not have a complete concussion. However, I doubled over in pain on the floor for more than 30 minutes and had a lump the size of an egg on my head for two weeks. I can't imagine what the red lid would do to me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Up a Tree

With autumn, leaves die and fall off trees. It's a sure sign that winter is coming. One of the things I like about the leaves falling off the trees in our backyard is being able to see the tree house that Don built about 13 years ago. It is covered up in the summer. The only way to see it is to take a walk in the woods. During fall and winter, this amazing architectural structure is visible from the house.

It is a little cabin in the sky, held up by four trees. Attached to the railings on one side is a rope walkway that takes you to the lookout tower.

When the kids were younger, they would play up there and have sleepovers. Not to miss any TV action, Daniel once ran an electrical cord from the house. There must have been ten extension cords attached to it. Over the years, the tree house has become a painball fortress. Peter reinforced the railing with more boards so paintballs couldn't get shot through the openings. He also built a few stand-alone bunkers in the woods so those on the ground could take cover.

So far no lightning, woodpeckers, rodents or carpenter ants have destroyed the treehouse. It is mostly abandonded these days. I might have to move a comfortable chair and lamp out there. I wonder if the wireless network would reach...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Let's Do Lunch

Me, Celeste, Nancy, Gretchen, Karen
 These are some of my dear friends. A group of ladies who got thrown together then stuck together.

Our story begins at least 8 years ago. We can't remember the exact year. We were all moms of children at Valley Christian Academy, and we volunteered to fill orders of gift cards through the Tuition Reduction Incentive Program (TRIP). I won't take the time to explain that right now.

Our group was assigned a once-a-month spot, and we had fun together as we processed orders. After a couple of years, the leaders of the TRIP program decided to make a business out of it, so they no longer needed volunteers. We were devestated! How were we going to see each other once a month and catch up on life? That's when we came up with the idea to meet for lunch instead.

We have been doing lunch for the past 8 years. Once a month during the school year, we meet at different restaurants. We pray together, cry together, eat together, but mostly laugh together. We find out what's going on with each other. Most of our kids are in college now. My how the time flies.

Tonight we are breaking with tradition. We are having our first dinner! The only reason for that is because we couldn't agree on a lunch date in November. We are meeting in about two hours at One Red Door in Hudson. I can't wait to see my friends!! I had to miss October's lunch, so I feel out of the loop.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Deck the Halls

My friend Tammy (the goat farming girl) was my right-hand woman in running the annual book fair during my seven years as librarian at Valley Christian Academy. She went all out when it came to decorating for the fair. The students were always so excited to see what the book fair would look like each year.

Well, it is payback time now, because Tammy is hosting a very large Christmas party at her house, and I volunteered to help her get ready. I came across a very cute and inexpensive decoration in Family Fun magazine that I just have to share with you.

Here's what you need:

1 playground ball ($1.00 at Walmart)
1 plastic tablecloth (54 x 108)
lightweight foil
plastic gold cup (9 ounces from Flower Factory)
craft wire
push pin
rubber band
wire cutters
wire coat hanger

1.  Wrap ball in foil to cover the color and make it look a bit more festive.

2. Cut tablecloth in half so it is 54x54 square.


It should look like this
 3. Wrap tablecloth around ball, gathering up ends. Cut off excess tablecloth, leaving about 2" at the top. Twist the tablecloth ends tight and wrap a rubber band around to hold.

4. Cut a 16" piece of wire. Wrap one end of the wire around where the rubber band is.

5. Poke a hole in the center of the gold cup. Push the wire up through the hole so the cup slides down over the gathered tablecloth.

6.  Wrap the wire around itself to make a loop.

 7. Cut the wire hanger to make a hook.


Hang them inside or outside


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Easy Dinner

Most Crock Pot recipes I have tried turned out overcooked and tasteless. I had almost given up on them altogether until my sister, Carolyn, gave me one that actually tastes good. Even Peter likes it. More than that, it is the easiest recipe in my recipe repertoire. You don't even need to write it down. It is that simple.


Crock Pot Stew

2 lb. beef stew meat
2 cans Campbell's Golden Mushroom soup
1 bag egg noodles


Place beef in Crock Pot. Pour soup on top. Turn Crock Pot on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.

Cook noodles. Serve stew over noodles. I usually cook a vegetable side dish separately because vegetables get mushy in the Crock Pot.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Obsessions

When I tell you that Riley gets obsessed sometimes, I do not exaggerate. Most of his obsessions involve balls. His favorite toy in the whole wide world is his tennis ball. But Riley never met a ball he didn't like.

When he is bored, he plays a game by himself. He will bat his tennis ball under the coffee table and try to get it to come out on the other side. He is very good at it. On the rare occasion that his ball ends up dead center under the table and he can't reach it, he will pant and whine until one of us gets up to retrieve it. He will play this game for an hour without stopping or until we take the ball away and hide it from him.



Another game that Riley plays involves billiard balls. He can't stand it that the balls are in the shoot or on top of the table. He has to get each and every one of them down on the ground.
When he can't reach the ones on top of the table, he will circle the table, jumping as high as he can trying to grab them. He becomes a mad crazy dog.

I help him out a little. When he gets all the balls on the ground, he starts tossing them around. It's as if he doesn't know what to do with so many balls. He will grab one and toss it, grab another and toss it. These are heavy balls. It's a wonder he can even keep them in his mouth.

When I've had enough, I have to force him to go upstairs. Then I rack up the slimy balls. What the pool-playing members of the family don't know won't hurt them.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Secretariat

It isn't often that Don can drag me to the movies. Over time, I have become hyper-sensitive to things like movie plots. Normal people are not affected by most of the violence and suspense found in the movies these days. I, however, cannot take even mild suspense. Forget any kind of violence. I really only want to see romantic comedies. For some reason, those don't appeal to Don.

I agreed to see Secretariat. It seemed like my kind of movie. You will think I'm nuts when I tell you I left the theater in need of a massage. I didn't remember the history of Secretariat well enough to know what the outcome would be. After he won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, I leaned over to Don, begging him to tell me it was going to turn out OK. He didn't reassure me.

The lead up to the final race in the Triple Crown was making me think that Secretariat was going to die during the race, and I just couldn't take it. I wanted to close my eyes, but I just sat there on the edge of my seat, hands clenched, shoulders tense. I don't want to give away the ending for you if you haven't seen it yet. (Maybe I already have!)

It was a good movie (from my point of view). I just wish I had known how it was going to end before it started. It would have saved me a lot of needless stress.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First Snow

Hide and Seek Cameo D
by Bev Doolittle
There's nothing like the first snow of the season. It usually happens somewhere between October 27 and November 10. I remember the first snow of 1988 (October 27) very well because I was on the way to Hillcrest Hospital to have my first baby while it was happening.

It snowed last night..enough to cover the ground by an inch. It is still snowing, and I could just sit in the lazy boy chair with my cup of tea and look out the window all day.

Riley was surprised to see snow last night. When he went out the back door of the garage, he stopped and sniffed. He then licked the snow like he did last year when he was still a puppy.


We went out this morning and romped around a bit just for fun. I took this picture, and it reminded me of  Bev Doolittle's camouflage prints. Riley doesn't blend in like the horses in her paintings, but he tries.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Remembering My Mom


I came across a poem a number of years ago that paid tribute to mothers everywhere. I cry every time I read it. I think of my own mom who struggled to raise four children on her own after my dad walked out on her. It wasn't easy, but she did the best she could. My mom died from metastatic breast cancer 19 years ago today. 

circa 1955

"The Lanyard" by Billy Collins

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the pale blue walls of this room,
bouncing from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.


No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past --
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.


I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.


She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sickroom,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light


and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.


Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift--not the archaic truth


that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Last Day at the Office



Mug Shot

 Today is Don's last day with Accenture. It's the end of a very successful 30-year career. He cleaned out his office on Monday. All he brought home was two banker's boxes. It seems like he should have accumulated more than that, but his real office was his briefcase which traveled with him all around the world.

He's been to London, Paris, Tokyo, Milan, Vancouver, Prague and Sydney. He's been to Argentina, Africa, Australia and Germany. Not to mention Scotland, Switzerland, Sweden and Spain. I hope he's not too tired of traveling, because I would like to see some of these places.

Don did an outstanding job as senior managing director of Accenture’s IT outsourcing business.

I'm really not sure what they are going to do without him. I bet they will be calling him tomorrow.

Accenture was originally the consulting division of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm in the 1980's. When I graduated from the University of Akron, I was hired as a new recruit. Don was assigned as my training supervisor. We fell in love, and the rest was history. Company policy was such that one of us had to go. I volunteered. I figured he'd have a much more lucrative career there than I would. I was right.

It's time to write a new story. We are looking at retirement as the next great adventure. Togetherness, togetherness, togetherness. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pioneer Woman


Here she is with two of her four children
If you don't know who Pioneer Woman is, you have to find out. She is the best blogger on the planet. I love, love, love to read her blog. Here's where you go: http://www.thepioneerwoman.com/.
Her real name is Ree Drummond. She is married to Marlboro Man (that's not his real name). He's a cattle rancher. They live somewhere out in Oklahoma. Ree grew up a city girl, but fell in love with a cowboy. Now she lives the life of a cowboy's wife.

I think the reason so many people love her blog is because when you read it, you just want her life. What woman wouldn't want to be married to a cowboy?

Pioneer Woman Cooks
The Pioneer Woman spends an awful lot of time cooking for her family because they burn so many calories on the job. She has the best recipes. Each recipe is illustrated step by step with her own photographs. She put some of them in a cookbook which was published a year ago.

Yesterday, I entered a drawing on her site. She is going to randomly pick 4 people to spend two nights with her family on the ranch with lots of cooking demonstrations. I have about a 1 in 40,000 chance of winning, but I'm hopeful. There is still time to enter (that is if you are reading this before 6:00 p.m. eastern today).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Give Me Some Estrogen!

I'm considering Hormone Replacement Therapy. Why? Well, I'll tell you why...

First off, I can't remember the last time I had a good night's sleep. I toss and I turn. I turn and I toss. I throw the covers off, I put the covers on. I put my socks on, I take my socks off. Don's about ready to make me sleep in the guest room.

Second, I might shoot you or use a knife if you cross me at the wrong time. I scare myself sometimes. The thoughts that go through my head! Just leave me alone.

Third, I can spend entire days crying. Don't ask me to explain why. It could be that a person on the radio had a very bad thing happen to them. I can overreact to the simplest things. It's going to be alright, Marianne.

I have friends who swear by these pills. Why should I suffer? Risks? There are worse risks at stake here!