Monday, December 20, 2010

Everything On the Ground

I am really bothered by something.  Litter.

Bill and I were at a new Mexican restaurant a month or two ago.  There were four adults standing near our table chatting as they left the restaurant.  One man dropped a piece of paper so I picked it up, followed him and gave it back to him.  I figured it was dropped by accident.  It wasn't.  He looked at me like I had two heads, took the paper and as they left the restaurant, dropped it again.

There seems to be more and more litter everywhere.  Or perhaps I have become sensitized to it especially now that vegetation had died back and the trees, bushes and fields are mostly barren.  The farmers fields are scattered with plastic bags, the road outside our neighborhood has beer bottles, coffee cups, and other sorts of litter tossed from cars.  Just when did it become okay to throw your trash out of your car and onto the ground?

It isn't just our neighborhood either.  Look along the highways, if you haven't noticed before, pay attention to the paper, cups, car parts, truck treads, trash bags and I can't even keep listing the junk.  Do you know how many times I've seen a pair of shoes, a sock, other clothes?  How do you lose those things?

Stop littering once was an important message, wasn't it from the government?  Remember the Indian looking sadly over the landscape destroyed by littering?  Today I see an ad once or twice a year.

Anyway, it bugs me.  When we talk about it, Bill thinks that the companies whose trash we see most often like McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, etc. have responsibility for the trash.  I understand where he is coming from, but I don't agree.  What do you think?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving

Based on the number of times we are told to be thankful in the Bible, I can only surmise that it is not a natural part of our makeup. 

Our parents taught us to say "Please" and "Thank you" until it became a habit and part of our automatic response to certain situations.  It is good to teach children to be polite and kind.  It is so easy for nice treatment to go by the wayside amid frustrations.

To actually be thankful is different.  So often I take my life and all its benefits for granted,  How easy it is to focus on what I don't have than to remember how blessed I am.  It is hard for us (by this I mean me) to bring a thankful heart to all circumstances.  "in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

And how familiar is this word of Jesus "and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."  Even communion, no, especially communion is a time for giving thanks.

So on this day set aside for remembering our blessings, give thanks to the One who gave us life.  One of my favorite hymns says it best.

For The Beauty of The Earth

by Folliott S. Pierpoint, 1864



For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies;
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the wonder of each hour,
Of the day and of the night;
Hill and vale and tree and flow'r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind's delight;
For the mystic harmony,
Linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child;
Friends on Earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For Thy church that evermore,
Lifteth holy hands above;
Off'ring up on ev'ry shore,
Her pure sacrifice of love;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the martyrs crown of light,
For Thy prophets eagle eye,
For Thy bold confessors might,
For the lips of infancy.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For Thy virgins robes of snow,
For Thy maiden mother mild,
For Thyself, with hearts aglow,
Jesu, Victim undefiled.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For Thyself, best Gift Divine,
To the world so freely given,
For that great, great love of Thine,
Peace on earth and joy in heaven.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.


May your Thanksgiving Day be blessed with the recognition and appreciation of all you are and all God made you.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Christmas Movies

Every year at this time the Hallmark Channel runs back-to-back-to-back Christmas movies, usually on a Sunday.  I really like these sappy movies, but with few exceptions they really aren't movies about Christmas, they are heart-warming stories set in the Christmas season.  Actually the movie I love to see every year is "A Christmas Carol". 

There are so many movie versions of it that I can watch a different one each night and not run out of versions for a month!  I just looked it up, there are actually 32 adaptations of the Dicken's story! The Muppets, Mr. Magoo, Blackadder, Bugs Bunny, the Flintstones and Barbie all have their own versions.  While those are silly or fun, my favorites are the serious treatments.

Let's see, my favorite Scrooge actors are Patrick Stewart and George C. Scott.  I think they were the best.  I am looking forward to seeing both those versions in the coming weeks.  Of course, "It's a Wonderful Life"  and "A Christmas Story" (you'll shoot your eye out) are must see movies too. 

I just find it sad that the REAL Christmas story is best told in "A Charlie Brown Christmas", when Linus recites the Bible story of Jesus birth from the gospel of Luke.

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

Yes, that IS what Christmas is all about.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mongoose and Puzzles

When I was young, from 5-8 years old. my Grandma and Aunt Elda regularly received visits from Willard and Nita.  I think they may have been related to us, but I'm not sure.  Regardless, they were so interesting.  They traveled all over and at that time, it was not a typical thing to do.  They always brought pictures of their trips, stories and tricks.

Yes, tricks.  Willard always had tricks and puzzles and I was his favorite target.  Often the puzzles were metal shapes.  He would hand me two entwined shapes for instance, and tell me to figure out the trick to get them apart.  I'd finally get them apart, and Willard would tell me to put them back together.   After several visits, I really got pretty good at figuring it out.

Heart puzzle

One visit, he asked if I ever saw a mongoose.  Well, he was a trickster so I thought it was like a snipe - non existent.  I actually ran and got the encyclopedia, looked it up and there was a picture of a mongoose.  It existed!  So did I want to see it?  Of course!

Mongoose
Willard brings in a wood box.  The box is about 12" x 12" x 24" with a carry handle on the top. You can't quite see inside even though there is a mesh grate, like a window on one 12 x 12" end.  He warns me not to get too close because these are really dangerous animals.  In fact they can kill snakes!  That's why he has it, because they have a snake on their property in Illinois and he knows the mongoose will get it.  He goes on to describe the battles mongoose have with cobras in the far east.  They are so fast, the cobras can't strike them. (By the way, this is true!)  Still, I can't see anything inside.

"Look closer" he says.  "He's hiding towards the back of the box.  But be very quiet, people make him jumpy."  So I am primed - on alert and trying to see it.  I get my face about 3 inches from the box and Willard surreptitiously releases a door on the back of the box. Willard yells, "Oh No!" The door flings open and attached to it is a piece of fur.  I can't believe I didn't wet myself.  It sure did scare me. 

While I HATED this trick, I always loved when they came to visit.  They laughed and told stories and were so much fun to be around.

To this day, puzzles make me smile.  I bought a trio of wooden puzzles.  I have had them for quite awhile but had never taken them apart.   Katie and Micah found them and asked if they could try and figure them out.  Soon Katie got the one puzzle apart, but they couldn't get it back together.  No problem, I think.  I do have the diagram showing how to put it back together.

So, I have been working on it for the last 4 days - with the answer sheet!  And I still don't have it back together.  Bill has worked on it too.  I am officially losing my touch.  These puzzles used to be conquerable, now not so much.  So here is the puzzle in pieces and the directions.  Can you figure out how to get the last pieces in?  I CAN'T!  Maybe I should say, I haven't yet.  There's always hope, isn't there?


Monday, November 8, 2010

Projects

Our womens group at church was looking for a service project.  Last year the group made health kits for Haiti.  We talked about repeating the health kits, or making childrens kits.  But we finally decided on hand tied fleece blankets.  Actually it was my idea.  I have a blanket that was a gift many years ago.  My daughter-in-law made it for me.  There is something very cozy and comforting about it.  That is the kind of item that people in need would appreciate, something comforting.  The bad thing about offering an idea is then you end up "volunteering" to manage the project.   So of course, I researched the fabrics and including shipping the blankets would cost us more than $25 each.  I found a company, fabricdiva.com that has kits priced for charitable or fundraising use.  And shipping is only 1 cent!  So I ordered the kits and we set the date and invited the women to bring sharp scissors - because all you have to do is cut fringe and tie the pieces together.  Here is what a finished hand tied blanket looks like.

Well today was the day designated for making the blankets.  I got to church about an hour early.  We have a rather large all purpose room used to open Sunday School, serve dinners and many other functions.  I moved tables in pairs and set up two blankets for us to work on.  I thought it would be good if we could get these two done in the 1 1/2 hours planned.  As it got close to the stated hour I was beginning to think nobody would make it today.  Then, 14 women arrived almost at the same time!  Soon in a frenzy of activity, blankets were getting completed!  In the end, 5 two-layer blankets and 8 one-layer blankets were completed in the time allowed.  We have 8 one-layer blankets left to complete next Monday.

I am so delighted with our undertaking.  The blankets have turned out to be a great service project.  They are simple to make yet are quite lovely, soft and comforting when complete. As important as the finished product is, much of my delight is in making connections and friendships with these generous, fun-loving women.  Getting "stuck" running a project has never been so rewarding. 

Maybe I'll offer up ideas again.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Spiderman vs Superman

There are all important sides we have to choose, Republican v Democrat, Eagles v Cowboys, Phillies v Mets, etc.  How do you choose between two favorites? 
They had a fierce web battle - and if I'm not mistaken, Spiderman won!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A New Attitude

I just got back from the grocery store. 

In the front of the store, when you first walk in is the flower shop, then the pharmacy, then the bakery, then the produce section.  I strolled through the flowers first, looking at the new birthday balloons and finally checking out the cakes in the display case.  They make really cool cartoon characters and pretty flowers, but nothing like the cakes on TV. 

As I am thinking about how much those specialty cakes on TV cost (I looked up Ace of Cakes bakery, Charm City cakes and they start at $1,000!) I am jostled out of my reverie by a strange noise.  I see that an unfortunate man on a shopping scooter has made a mistake and bumped into the free standing two-sided pie rack.  As I watch, he doesn't stop.  He is slowly plowing the pie rack into the bread rack and into the cookie rack and it is on its way to.... ME!!!  Baked goods are now falling everywhere.  It is a tidal wave of pâtisseries.  Bread loaves, pies, cakes, cookies, shoefly, pastries, and rolls slowly, slowly keep coming and coming.  I realize I am getting trapped behind the wave and in front of the display case.

With fancy maneuvering, my cart and I escape the oncoming cookie and cake boxes as I skirt the wave.  I look back now to see what is happening.  The man, at least in his late 70's, has finally stopped the scooter.  With hands shaking, he backs up, turns and leaves the area!  I don't know whether to laugh or feel sorry.  I get to produce and the young employee asks, "Are you alright?" I tell him, of course I'm fine.  Pointing to the damage he says, "Glad it's not my problem." 

While I chuckle as I finish my shopping, I actually don't know what to make of it, except to laugh.  I use the self-checkout although I don't know why, I hate it.  As I am leaving I look back at the bakery.  There are two women cleaning up the damages.  So, the young man says it's not his problem.  The old man drives away because it isn't his problem.  Figures - they left it for women to clean up.

(Men bashing done for the day - hahahahahahahaha!!!!!)


Monday, November 1, 2010

November 2 - Women Honor Your Vote!

Throughout the course of time there were many groups and conventions promoting the right to vote for women. Lucy Burns and Alice Paul organized the Congressional Union eventually changing the name to the National Women's Party which got them noticed. Their tactics were more radical and militant than the groups that preceded them and included hunger strikes, picketing the White House, and engaging in other forms of civil disobedience to publicize the suffrage cause.

In 1917 members of the movement staged a massive protest in front of the Whitehouse in Washington DC. Hundreds of women were arrested on charges of "obstructing sidewalk traffic." And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the women convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment, and 2 weeks later, the Senate followed. When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920, the amendment passed its final hurdle of obtaining the agreement of three-fourths of the states. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification on August 26, 1920, changing the face of the American electorateforever.

So ladies, we need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women . Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.


PS: Portions of this days blog are plagerized from various sources. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Visitor

We are sitting in the office and hear a rapping sound.  I go down stairs because I think we have company.  Nothing.  I return to the office and there goes the rapping again. 

This time I go out the garage door thinking it is a Fed Ex or UPS delivery man.  Again nothing.

This goes on for some time until I decide to take my camera and walk around the outside of the house.  I suddenly have an idea what I am looking for.  And see what I find!
This adorable bird is tap, tap, tapping on our house.  How adorable is that.  I've never seen a woodpecker here before.  I smile and then I look closer.  Wait a minute - that's not so cute.

He looks like he's making progress on his insect search.  I think I see holes!  I pick up a small rock to throw at him and almost hit our skylights.  So in my wisdom, I yell at him.  And in a few he flies away leaving this.
Dratted little woodpecker.  Makes me think of the Woody Woodpecker cartoon, especially the laugh!

Alex - do you have any ideas what kind of woodpecker is this?  


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

I will share a secret with you.  Saturday I went to my first pumpkin patch.  I've read about them, seen pictures about them and driven past them but never went to one.  So when Dann called and asked if I wanted to go along with them, I was thrilled.

When the boys were little and up to and including the age of pumpkin carving and trick or treating, I didn't know about pumpkin patches.  We bought pumpkins at the grocery store or at a farm stand.  Brought them home, cut them out and set them outside with a candle inside.  Occasionally the pumpkins were stolen or smashed, but usually within two to three weeks, they shriveled up as rot set in. 

Last year, we went to New York City towards the end of October.  I had always wanted to go to Chelsea Market, home of the Food Network.  The pumpkin carvings and displays we saw were awesome.


















These are photos of Chelsea market.  The carvings were so beautiful.  



Anyway, we went to Horse Sleigh farm in New Jersey.  They had lots of attractions but first we took a hayride out to the pumpkin field. It made us laugh.  We could have walked, but wanted the hayride experience. We sat on hay bales for the short ride.  It was a hoot! 






We tromped around about 5-6 acres inspecting the pumpkins.  Dann and Micah overturned almost every pumpkin out there. 





Katie found two she liked rather quickly, 

and we found this green one covered in weird bugs











Finally we had our bounty,

Then we spent some time visiting the chickens, feeding the goats and watching them (not the goats, the farmers) shoot ears of corn at a truck  - very unusual pastime!  All in all, it was a lot of fun.  I wish I had known about these places when the boys were little - they'd have loved it!

Oh - and I lost at rummy AGAIN when we got home.  Must be the cards, it couldn't be me!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Weekends

The funny thing about being retired, or should I say the funny thing about not working is that weekends come so quickly!  The week used to drag on and on, but now it is flying by.  I have attributed it to retirement, but do you suppose it is a function of aging?  I read about the downhill side of life,  and just the phrase conjures visions of speeding along out of control. Yikes!

Anyway, I started this about weekends.  While they seem to come around faster, it is still only 2 days (aren't I a keen observer?)  As an adult, weekends are such an important part of  living that I have been trying to remember weekends as a child.  What did we do lo those many years ago?


First Grade

It was the '50s.  I remember looking forward to Saturday morning cartoons.   I think Daddy would sometimes golf on Saturday.  And I'm not sure if it was Saturday morning or Sunday morning, Daddy would make me eggs over easy.  Of course, Sunday we went to Sunday school and church.  Then in the afternoon it was time for family visits.  We would visit grandparents, or aunt and uncles.  Sometimes in the summer, we would have a family picnic. Those Sundays where we stayed home, Daddy and my brothers would often watch baseball or football.  I have no idea what Mom did for a whole weekend.  When we walked into the house after church, it always smelled so good.  Either a roast or a baked chicken had been cooking while we were gone.  I got my step stool and it was my job to help Mom peel potatoes.  I wonder what else used to happen on weekends.


It all seems so ordinary, maybe even boring, compared to weekends now.  We and everyone we know are running somewhere.  No, I don't long for yesteryear, I enjoy all the things we do.  Besides, we don't have to recharge on the weekend.  We have all week to rest up!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pass the Purell

Every Sunday as part of the service, we "pass the peace".  This involves greeting those near you, shaking hands and sharing "Peace be with you" "And also with you".  It is very friendly, often involves hugs but always is a handshake.

After we  have all returned to our seats, you hear the bottles of hand sanitizer popping open as everyone  cleanses their hands.  Welcome to the new world. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

October Costumes

When the leaves turn yellow, orange and red, the nights turn damp and chilly and wood burning smoke begins pouring from chimneys, it reminds me of putting away the summer clothes and getting out the winter clothes.  Always while getting out the winter clothes, I stumbled upon costumes from Halloween.  The costumes came in a box with a window so you could see the mask and I stored them in that box.
 
This is the kind of costume we bought for Andy and Dann.  I don't actually know why I saved the costumes because they were never worn more than one year. 

I remember wearing a "boxed costume" at least one year but for the life of me I don't remember the character.  What I do remember is the smell and texture of the costume.  If it was cold, you put all your warm clothing on first.  Then you stepped into the one piece jump suit made of a cross between nylon, polyester and plastic.  From the waist to the neck in the back it was open. There were narrow plastic strings sewn onto the neckline that were meant to be tied together in the back.  By the end of the night - actually usually by the end of the first street - it was torn.  The mask was molded plastic and had a rubber band to go around the back of your head, sometimes getting caught in your hair.  I can still smell it.  It was really hard to see out of those masks.

Usually Martha and I would go together.  We would only go to houses where we knew the people.  When they opened the door, we yelled "Trick or treat".  They always invited us in.  Then came the guessing.  "Do we know you?  Do we know your parents? Do you have any brothers or sisters? Are you (guess a name)?"  Eventually they would either guess right or give up and the masks came off.  They laughed, told us we were getting big and gave us the candy.

There were no fun size bars then, only full size.  We did get a few apples and some NECCO wafers but mostly Snickers, Milky Way and Reese's.  Funny though, the candy never seemed to last as long as I thought it should.  Do you think I shared  it with my brothers and forgot? 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Grandchild Sunday

We had a really fun day today. 

Micah (#39) had a football game this afternoon.  It was the last game of the regular season.  He played offense and defense.  They won by two touchdowns.  It was grand!  And the whole game I was sitting next to and chatting with Katie.  What a delight!


After the game we decided to see if Nathan was home.  He was building this giant Lego tower with Dad.  He didn't hear us come in but looked up and saw me.  He ran over with his arms open and shouted, "Grammy, I'm so glad you came back!"  As he was hugging me, he saw Bill and shouted "Pop-pop, you came back too!  Hooray!"  Then he ran to Bill for a hug.  You can't have a better welcome.


On the left, the tower was falling over.  Dad caught the top of it but it was taller than Eric (Dad).

Then Nathan played with one of his favorite toys, my iPhone.  He understands how it works and has a ball with it.  I have some special alphabet and numbers apps and of course a few games.  There is a game called Fling that you have to fling these fuzzy balls into each other either horizontally or vertically knocking them off the board.  You win if you can get it to one ball left.  He is really good at this.  Soon it was time for us to go.  Nathan wanted us to stay - what a nice feeling!

iPhone focus!
We made a quick run to Sam's club.  We got there at 5:40 and they close at 6.  We had two things on our list; we got four.  And were back in the car by 5:56.  Bonus!

Home again and  - No, I didn't finish the laundry room. :)



Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall Cleaning

Is it instinctive or is it learned?  Every fall and every spring I get the urge to clean out, scrub down and reorganize.  So today, I started on the laundry room.  And in addition to actually being used as a laundry room, this room tends to be a dumping grounds or a staging area.  And in the past, it was also where we kept Homer's litter box (a different kind of dumping grounds).

It has been quite awhile since the whole room was worked over.  In the past few years, I often attacked the room in parts but never the whole thing at once.  I probably worked about 7 hours on it today.  I moved everything out of the room but the washer, dryer and a cabinet.  Scrub the floor, scrub the walls, should I paint? 

A great break was a visit with Dann and Micah.  They brought videos, pictures and stories from their cruise.  The boys threw the football around.  We played a hot game of rummy, Dann won and Micah beat Pa Bill.  I was the big loser!  We ended with a trip to Applebees. When we got home, I committed to myself to get back at it until the Phillies game started. (Phillies are on now)

Now I have this pile of stuff - no, of course I didn't finish it today - to sort, organize and fit back into the room.  Where did it all come from?  Oh, did I mention that when I moved the dryer, I broke the exhaust hose?  Some things don't go back in the room - which will lead me to the next room, and the next room, and the next room. 

As my friend says, no good deed goes unpunished!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Scary Movies

I really love romantic comedies.  Right now I am watching "Holiday" about two women who decide on the spur of the moment to trade houses for two weeks.  One lives in England, the other in Los Angeles.  The movies are usually predictable, end happily and make me feel good.  Sigh.....

Let's see - I also really enjoy fantasy.  No not that kind, ha ha ha!!!  I mean fantasy like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.  But I really enjoy them better if I know the story - and yes I had read the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I don't like movie surprises.  Even in good dramas, I enjoy them more if I know when the awful stuff is going to happen in their life. 

My attitude probably comes from a particularly memorable Saturday afternoon.  I was probably around 12 years old.  And my friend Robin invited me to her house to play games and then watch TV.  We were throwing the football around with her brothers - Jon was the starting quarterback on the high school team (I was in awe!).  Then we came in and had a snack and settled down to watch the Saturday Afternoon Horror Show. I actually don't remember the name of the show but it started at 3:00 every Saturday and I had never watched it before.  I thought about going home, but the brothers were there and they were so grown up and I didn't want them to make fun of me so I stayed.


The movie starts and it was "The Fall of the House of Usher" with Vincent Price.  The movie tagline was "He buried her alive... to save his soul!"  So you can imagine what I was in for.  I watched the whole thing scared down to my shoes.  In the last scene, a decrepit hand reaches out of a coffin.  Hated it!   It lasted until about 5:00 and it was DARK.  I had to walk home 4 blocks. Past the house with the creaky front porch. Past three alleys.  Past the dark factory.  Past Aunt Elda's house (it was dark). And past the high school.  The school was the worst.  It was nearly a block long and there were tall boxwood hedges all along the sidewalk completely blocking your view.  They only broke at the front door to the building. Then towards the end of the building was a cement bridge.  I was seeing scary things in the shadows.  I ran almost the whole way home.

I remember Grandma asking why I was so late (supposed to be home at 5:00 for dinner). I have no idea what I told her and I don't remember anything else about the day.  But I can still remember the feel of my pounding heart running home, scared all the way.  I did not get a thrill from the scares like some people say they get.  In fact, that is a thrill I'll never understand. 

So if you are at my house, or I am at your house and a scary or suspenseful movie comes on TV - don't be surprised if I leave the room at the most interesting times.   

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Surprise!

Yesterday, Bill and I were standing in the kitchen when the door opened and this little voice called out, "Hello!"  He proceeded to jump his way across the kitchen giggling "Surprise!  We surprised you!" 

I can't think of many better ways to start the day!


So we took a little game I had...
 And after a pile of giggles and laughs, made....


Pop-pop calls it "Turkey in a Wind Tunnel"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Way Over

The beginning of the cockroach story actually starts in NH.  Lew had orders to report to the Philippines.  We had to clear out of base housing, Lew left for the Philippines and Andy and I waited for our papers so we could join him.  I don't remember anymore how long it took - I'm guessing about 2-3 weeks.  After we got our orders, we had shots, physicals, shipping things (including the car) and I wanted to spend a couple of weeks at home in PA.  After all, we would be gone for 2 years.

We came home and had a great visit until....... Evan, Eric and Brian all developed chicken pox. This was late 1971, Andy was 14 months old.  I forged ahead and about a week later, Andy and I left to join Lew.  We were flying commercial to San Francisco, military busing to Travis Air Force Base, then flying to Clark Air Base.  We were on the bus when I looked down at Andy asleep in my lap and noticed a red pimple on his temple.  No, It can't be.  We were staying overnight on base and leaving in the morning.  By morning he had more pimples.  I tried to get on the plane, but they wouldn't let us go.  Go to the doctor, yadda, yadda, yadda chicken pox, can't leave until the lesions are crusted over. 

Now I have three new problems.  First, I have a sick baby in temporary quarters with no food for either of us.  Second, I have $35.00 to my name.  Third, Lew is expecting to meet us at the airport and won't know what happened to us.

So, the Red Cross notified Lew that Andy was sick and it would delay our arrival.  Unfortunately, they told him it was small pox!  Next I call a cab.  I get in the cab with Andy and he drives me to a base version of a 7-11.  I don't want to take Andy in the store with me, so I ask the driver if I can leave him in the car while he waits for me.  What a trusting soul I was.  I went into the store alone, bought peanut butter, cereal, milk, bread.  When I returned, the driver took us back to the room and wouldn't let me pay for the taxi.

We survived four days on that one trip to the mini-mart.  On the fifth day, I had to take him back to the hospital for the doctor to release us to travel.  He did - and I even have the note to prove it - it says in part - "He can fly"  (I love that note!)

I wanted to check out of the BOQ but didn't have enough money.  They adjusted my bill from $7.00 a day to $3.00 a day.  That I could afford.  I got to the boarding area and the airmen and soldiers couldn't have been nicer or more helpful.  While in flight, if Andy was awake, the men played peek-a-boo or just talked to him.  We flew to Hawaii where we had a 6 hour layover.  Since he had thrown up on his clothes, I bought Andy a flowered shirt.  Next stop was a layover in Guam, and then finally the Philippines. 

And you know the rest of the story - except that the reason Lew had just moved us into a new location was - we had been robbed!  Before I even got there!  They knew it was the housing security guards but were unable to do anything about it except move. 

Military ties run deep.  I can tell you that the reason the men were so helpful to me is that they would want someone to help their wife and children should they be traveling alone.  Today I marvel at the communications military families have with their soldiers on tour.  It doesn't replace being home together, but it sure is better than the "old days." 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stink Bugs and other pests

I have been noticing stink bugs in the house every so often for the last two years.  And tonight I saw a news report that these bugs are becoming quite a problem to crops, fruit trees and ornamental shrubs too.  This is the time of year that everything - from mice to preying mantis - pushes indoors for the winter.  So of course the stink bugs are trying to find solace inside too. 

I do not like bugs, but am less creeped out by bugs since we lived in the Philippines.  Andy was 14 months old when he and I flew to Clark Air Force base, RP.  We arrived after about 18 hours in the air exhausted, stinky and stiff just hoping to go to our house and crash in bed.  It wasn't to be.  We ended up in a hotel.  And within a few minutes, i was introduced to one of the Philippine cockroaches scurrying across the room floor. These roaches are about 3 inches long.  (Later i was to find out some of them fly)Lew squished it under his boot but refused to clean it off the floor.  By morning IT WAS GONE!!!  Did it pull itself back together (I believe this) or did his buddies drag him off, or did some other insect eaters drag him off.  Whatever happened to it will remain a mystery.

So much for my first night.  The next day, he dropped us off at our house and went to work.  He had just moved us to this new place - there was much to do.  Within a few days I already had a few run-ins with cockroaches. I was determined to rid our house of the buggers, so i bought pesticides, motels and whatever they had at the commissary.  (I am scratching as i write this - i guess some things you don't actually get over).  First, we (I had a house girl, Olive) emptied the cupboards then i sprayed and sprayed in, around and under the cabinets. We shut the cabinet doors.  As we stood back admiring my work, the stampede began.  They came from the top of the cabinet, the bottom of the cabinet and the sides of the cabinet.  They came running across the walls, the ceiling and the floor.  A few died, but most just ran.  I left Olive to handle it - she seemed unimpressed by the whole thing.  I escaped to our bedroom.

I decided to organize our closet.  It had many hanging clothes, but they were jumbled together and in no order.  I grabbed hands full of hangers and laid the clothes on the bed.  As I reached back for another load, a roach ran over my hand.  I screamed.  I nearly packed my bags to come home.  And that wasn't my last encounter of the day.  That night, I was in bed laying on my stomach reading.  Picture this - my pillow is under me and i am on my elbows, my book is laying open on the bed and I see movement.   It starts with the feelers waggling over the edge of the mattress. Here comes a roach up the headboard side of the bed. We find out later that the bed legs need to be in empty soup cans.  Something about the roaches not being able to climb up the can or something.  I was beyond caring why something worked, i just wanted it to work.

Nothing will ever come close to the infestation we experienced those two years.  We could not get rid of them.  Our habit was to tap on cabinet doors then wait a beat giving the bugs a chance to run away.  If you get up at night, turn the light on, but if you don't want to see them, keep your eyes closed and give them time so they can run away. 

So unless the stink bug infestation gets 1,000 times worse, it pales in comparison. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Numbers

Tomorrow is..... 10/10/10.  (AKA my brother-in-law's birthday.)  By itself, however, it is another in a long line of weird dates.  Last year was 9/9/09, but my favorite series includes time.  This year on August 9th at exactly 6 minutes and 7 seconds after 5 AM it was 5:06:07 8/9/10. 

I have always had a fascination with numbers, which developed into an interest in incidences, coincidences, statistics, etc.  I'm not really sure why I am mentioning this.  But I think it is because I am watching baseball, the sport with more numbers than any other.  It isn't enough to learn the rules of the game - you have to know the history - the statistics - the numbers.  Your depth of "fanness" is rated by how well you know any number of inane facts, players, wins, losses, pitches, on and on. 

I am sure my initial interest was driven by wanting to fit in with three older brothers and a dad who watched the Phillies whenever they were on TV.  The rules for watching were funny.  I was allowed to stay in the room as long as I didn't disrupt anyone.  Of course you know that meant no talking.  Imagine a 6-9 year old not talking.  By not talking, I ended up listening to the announcers (lots of facts) and to the discussions in the room.  All those things added to my base of baseball knowledge, such as it is.

Truth is, I really like baseball.  What follows seems a strange segue, but it'll make sense soon.  Imagine it is about 1981, I was working at ALPO.  My friend Rich came to my cubicle and asked me "Do you know who hit the shot heard round the world?" (Now for those of you who don't know baseball you might remember the announcer saying "The Giants won the pennant, the Giants won the pennant"  If not check this out.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrI7dVj90zs&feature=related )  I gave Rich a who-wouldn't-know-that look and said "Of course!"  "Come to MJ's office, you have to tell her.  She won't believe me."  Rich said.  Naturally, we stick our heads into MJ's office and she asks, "Linda, tell me who you think hit the shot heard round the world."  Mostly sure of myself, I answer, "well Bobby Thomson, of course"  MJ gestures to a man sitting in the corner, "Linda, I'd like you to meet Bobby Thomson!"  What a thrill for me.  I was able to spend a few minutes chatting with him.  I really was star struck.  I have no recollection of the conversation.

Maybe if he'd have thrown in a few numbers...........

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Nathan!

Three years old already.  Time flies!




Fun Spiderman party with Grandpa Joe, Uncle Frank, Aunt Beverly, Pop-pop, Grammy, Mommy and Daddy.  Lots of fun and look at him eat cake!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Men and their Toys

Our downspout drain stopped draining.  Many years ago, Bill, Dann, Bryan, Steve and David (I think I have the players right) dug a trench with a ditch witch from the house to someplace near the edge of our yard.  A pipe was laid to carry the water from the downspouts and it has worked very well until this year.  The problem:  Now that it was clogged, we couldn't find the end of the pipe.  The stones marking the end must have been eaten up by the yard.  Bill dug random holes where he thought the end should be to no avail.

Finally, one bright Saturday - our neighbor Bill Smith rented a backhoe for moving rock on his property.  So the two Bills started poking around, found and dug up the piping. It became a neighborhood event - all the men gather.
They found the middle of the pipe first.  And were able to trace it to the outlet. 
Imagine their surprise when they finally found the pipe end and dug this up.
The lovely maple tree at the edge of our property found the end of the pipe and shot a root right up there.  As they uncovered more pipe, they still had not come to the end of the roots.  The men were concerned the roots had found their way up the downspout.  Finally they got to the end of the root ball.  It was about 30 feet of clogged pipe, and here is a picture of the snaky looking tree roots pulled from the pipe.


Even though there will be significant work cleaning up the holes and replacing and burying the pipes a good time was had by all.  After all, every man wants eventually to operate and use a backhoe.  Don't they?


Friday, September 17, 2010

September Sightings

Since Homer died, we have been experiencing an abundance of critters.  From spiders and moths to chipmunks and birds, who knew the little guy was patrolling the outside from inside.  This morning we saw "new" wildlife, at least it is new for us.  This is the PA state bird, the ruffed grouse.
No kidding, there were at least 15 of them feeding and traveling through our front yard.  So I discovered two very funny things.  First there is a ruffed grouse society (!) and second a group of three or more ruffed grouse is called a Thunder (!!).

Now here is the best one.

We came home from about 6 hours of errands.  We opened my garage door and Bill ran in to answer the phone.  As I began to unload the groceries, what do I see coming out of the garage but a big brownish cat!  He ran low and quick as though he were stalking prey in a field.  The poor thing.  I guess he recognized a cat friendly house and decided to take refuge in this decidedly doggy neighborhood. The garage door was open for half an hour various times during the day today.  At some point, he sneaked in and hid under my car only to be stuck!  I'll have to keep my eye out for him :)

I wonder whether we'll see the wild turkeys tomorrow, or maybe deer, or groundhog, or if we're lucky we'll see that fox everyone is talking about.




Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cars

We (Bill) bought a 2010 Jeep after about 15 years and 230,000+ miles with a Pathfinder.  The transition has mixed reviews.

There is a certain freedom that comes with a car that has so many miles on it that you only carry liability insurance.  Other drivers can see that in your eyes (and probably in your paint job) and are careful not to cross you.  You never know what that crazy driver might do.  I had an old car with few miles on it while I was still working for ALPO.  I was coming home from the advertising agency in Phila. when I got stuck in one of those nasty construction-merge traffic jams.  I had been sitting in unmoving traffic for at least 30 minutes then was merged out one too many times and was fuming! I was actually borderline psychotic.  The next car attempting to cut me off was a nice new sports car.  I jerked my wheel in his direction and he backed off so quick I had to laugh.  Nobody bothered me after that.  I'm still not sure if people actually stayed away or if my actions freed my anger.  But I digress.

Since our cars were old, we didn't look for bumps and scratches anymore.  I still watch out for bird droppings on my old car 'cause that can be like acid on any paint job.  In all those miles, we never had a failure (unless you count rust - which was minor)

Now that we have the Jeep, Bill inspects it for dings, scratches and I don't know what else.  And since we had the Jeep, we had a tire blow-out and now the bumper is loose.  He had to pitch a fit at the car dealer today to get it fixed.  The dealer claimed that Bill must have hit something.  Uh - the bumper wasn't dented - it was loose!

Don't get me wrong.  The car is really great.  I love the navigation system and all the stereo bells and whistles.  It can tell you if you have a tire going down, but it can't tell you that running over a rock will split the tire from inside rim to outside rim.


All the things you expect to be great, are great.  However, now we have to inspect the car for shopping cart attacks and manufacturing flaws - at least once a week. 

I wonder how long that will last?