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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Telephone is Plotting Against My Sanity

16 months ago, we had a power surge that took out our computers, the motion sensitive light at the garage, our telephones and the satellite dish receiver.  Our neighbor lost his television and electric meter - he was closer to the impact point where a 65 foot tree fell onto power lines, crossing two major lines.

The electric company was not to blame because it wasn't rooted within their "right of way".  The property owner is the state of Pennsylvania and we all know responsibility has been removed from all dictionaries used by everyone with a position of power in the state or federal government.  Local government dictionaries still contain the word, but the responsibility always seems to be that of an unknown individual without an actual working telephone.  This person never picks up his or her messages.

My homeowner's policy doesn't cover electronics.  So, we purchased 2 new computers, new phone system, and Dish Network sent us a new receiver.  Around this point in time, everyone who called me on a Verizon cell phone started to experience an echo of everything they said.  I called the phone company... my cordless phone or "something else in the house" was at fault, they said.  I've replaced, unplugged, and done a variety of other home remedies in order to make it stop.  People became angry with me because this echo annoyed them and I hadn't fixed it yet.  Well, it's a Verizon problem.  I still get treated impatiently though... as though it's MY fault their phones echo.

Four weeks ago, we had heavy rains and storms.  Suddenly, my husband and daughter get weird delays when calling me.  The phone doesn't ring right away.  They get put into voice mail limbo where they are told that my voice mail isn't set up.  Our conversations became like those on CNN with foreign correspondents - a delay after every sentence, then confusing simultaneous stutters as we try to figure out whose turn it is.  Quite annoying... and AGAIN... they are mad at ME.

Since yesterday, every time I call someone, my phone has a really weird background sound - as though I'm in a metal warehouse with no sound absorption at all.  Today I called a friend and she couldn't hear me at all.

This morning I replaced the last piece of electronic equipment that we still had since the "surge of '09" - the router / modem.  No improvement whatsoever - but 3 hours spent reconfiguring everything in the universe so that World of Warcraft would work again. 

I called the phone company repair service today.  Perfect.  Clear, normal, perfect.

The repairman called me this afternoon... perfect reception.  A miracle happened and he could find no problem whatsoever.

10 minutes later, my daughter called and I was back on foreign assignment.  It's driving me mad... or is it my FAMILY!!  Are they in it together?  Is this some sort of horrifying conspiracy?

Monday, December 27, 2010


I could write a million, well, perhaps not a million.  I could write about many topics with that same title.  It was the difference between feeling like my family was somehow inferior because it didn't look like the picture of other families and realizing that my family knows how to love, and I treasure that above a picture.  It was the difference between believing my best friend had the perfect family and I always felt like an "at risk" teenager; and seeing that she struggled with the same feelings of insecurity and defensiveness that I did.

It is the difference.

It's the difference between feeling alone in the world because you are alone in your home, and surrounding yourself with passionate people - empowered and at liberty to make a difference in the world.  It's the difference between hiding away the pictures taken of us by our young children, 15 years ago - before digital file deleting was an option, and seeing the youthfulness of that face (caught in the middle of a blink or a sneeze or was I puking on the turkey??? - what WAS that expression!?) 15 years later and thinking, "I wish I looked like that now."

It's difference between a moment of pouting that a gifted photographer is focusing on other projects and isn't taking any new portrait clients, and reading the story of her mom undergoing a double mastectomy 9 months ago - followed by months of terrifying medical events.  In October she revealed some of her work from last summer - portraits of women post-mastectomy.  These women are our sisters - sassy, strong, sexy, brave, and beautiful.

Beauty and the Breast Project


Kimberly posted a portrait of her with her mother and sister at Thanksgiving on her blog.
Today I am thankful for


Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Grown Up Christmas & What do I do with this new journal!?!?!?

This Christmas was different.  It was the first Christmas that my husband and I woke up in our home without a single other human being here.  I thought I would cry when I pictured this day years ago.  I was in love with the Folger's commercial when the son came home from college and the house was full again... I was in love with that house as well.  I don't live there.

We allowed our first daughter to open her gifts just after the big family party a week ago.  The middle daughter decided to spend Christmas Eve with her sister & family... So, we stopped and helped load up a gift that was hidden at her home to take to the house of many children on Christmas eve.  While we were there, we decided to exchange gifts with her right then and there, and I was glad because I'm fairly certain she'd have only opened one before her nephews (one in particular) opened the rest... all at once.. in less than 3 seconds.  We got the television into the back of my Jeep, (Jack felt very honored to carry actual Christmas presents this year.  She's a sentimental Jeep) and arrived to see 3 little kiddos in adorable robes and jammies, and one beautiful chubby baby in a cuddly blue striped onesie.  Gifts were exchanged...  with help from that one certain grandson, who apparently also tried to open the puzzle he gave me for Christmas because it had little strips of the label all torn off... It was adorable.

Christmas morning was beautiful.  We made breakfast together - delicious omelets - which you can never get in a restaurant as good as you can make at home, opened our gifts, watched a movie, cuddled, called our parents, waited for our kids to catch their breath and call us.  Santa was good to everyone.

I received a gift that I'm not sure what to do with, though.  My daughter gave me a handmade leather journal, with handmade paper, binding, everything.  It's beautiful.  There are a limited number of pages in it, and I would fill that thing up in less than a week with my everyday journaling... so I need to find a special use for it.  A few options presented themselves - a holiday journal (for one or all holidays to be recorded and remembered in), a blessings journal - a dated list of the things I'm most grateful for (that would fill up rather quickly too), okay... I guess just a couple options came to mind.  I could use a suggestion or two or 4.

Now, the day after Christmas I have a confession or 3...  I have to "redo" my gifts for Laney & Linda & Jeanene... because last night... my husband and I ate Laney & Linda's chocolate covered pretzels, and I have a feeling Jeanene's aren't going to make it through the day.  Penny's Christmas ornament gift is still in my kitchen.  I can't find the ice skate accessories I bought for my husband's new skates - thought they were wrapped and under the tree!!!  Somewhere in my house is a gift for my granddaughter Grace... I don't know where, nor do I remember what it was - I just know I left Wal-Mart with 2 gifts for her, and I had to reshop because at gift wrapping time.... I only had ONE!

I'd like to go buy a new tv today, because we received a surround sound system with a blue ray DVD player and our TV isn't up to those standards.  I'd also like to buy gift bags at a discount - NO PAPER, I found that I had over 30 rolls of wrapping paper stuffed in my cedar chest!

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Room

An overstuffed sofa covered in white linen with string ties at the front, just below the armrests.  Large white linen covered pillows, a vase with fresh flowers, lots of natural light and amazing prints on the wall that pull you into them, rather than allow you to view them from the safety of your own space.  A small bookshelf loaded with the next 20 books I intend to read, next to a beautiful desk where I write.  This is my room.  Not in reality.. in reality, my rooms are a combination of ideas that suit both my husband and myself.  In reality, I've lived exactly zero days all by myself in a setting that was just mine.  In reality, when I talk about it, there is a feeling of guilt, as though by loving that room in my mind I'm wishing my family away, regretting my children, resenting the compromises.  So, I don't talk about it, except to follow it up with apologetic back pedaling that emphasizes that those things aren't important and don't really mean anything to me.

In truth, they aren't important.  They are daydreams much like the wedding dress I imagined in my teenage years.  Many of my daydreams came to fruition... the dress was beautiful, the romantic and tender husband is a dream come true, and the house in the country complete with a blackberry patch is where I now wake up each day and have for the past 6 years.  I recognize that I have many many blessings that I'm incredibly grateful for... They are all grounded in reality - the dress was, in reality a prom dress, I had a practice husband first, the house didn't get started until my girls were grown and I was 40.  Life isn't a daydream for me, and I'm glad... truth be told I never wanted to be a princess - I wanted to be a teacher or a writer.

I have a sewing room - complete with 2 sewing machines, 2 sewing tables, an ironing board that is set up all the time, and shelves of fabric for projects in process as well as those that I haven't yet thought through.  It started out to be "my room", but important things became perpetual interruptions until I just let it be.  Truth is... I don't want to be a seamstress.  I want to write.  I ache to write.  I've made the hundredth start here at Pentriloquist, and while I may surprise myself with an article of quality here or there, in all honesty - I'm very rusty.  This is more a scratch pad of ideas with odd paragraphs and tentatively connected subjects.  I've had important things taking up my mind and using my creative energy.  Which is probably why I have a sewing room and not a space for writing.

I can spend an entire day on a dilemma my daughter is facing bouncing around in my brain like a bullet without enough umph to break out... just tearing up every cell of that gray matter until it resembles pie crust dough... just after you've reached that all important goal of "pea sized clumps".  (I watch my share of crime shows... I know what a .22 can do, and I've made a lot of pies in my lifetime)  Numbly I go through the motions of laundry, housecleaning, making dinner, shoveling snow, running errands and my other work - none of which requires me to concentrate too much, and I use up my creative thinking on solutions to dilemmas that are usually not my own.

Recently, my daughters and I are experiencing a little more breathing room between us.  I'd love to say this is coming as a graceful transition from one stage of parenting to complete adulthood, but in truth - it's painful.  For me and for them.  It feels uncomfortable, lonely, odd.  My husband likes the new feeling of it being "just us".  He's started unplugging our phone on weekend mornings until almost noon so we can sleep in or just have a quiet morning.  I feel like something is missing... and at other times, I feel liberated and excited to be able to have a quiet day where my phone doesn't ring with any number of catastrophes that are common to women and which I'm powerless to resist the urge to obsess over.   

I woke up this morning thinking about waking up in my house, next to my husband.  That's it!  I wasn't in turmoil as to how to help my sister make this parenting transition that I'm struggling with, or how one daughter was going to find a sitter to spend a little time on herself, or how another daughter has some need that perhaps I could help her discover so she would find her peace, or how the third daughter was going to find a new place to live.  In truth - they don't really want me to solve those problems, but I'm not a good sounding board.... I want to fix things.  Even if I hold my tongue - my mind consumes itself trying to fix things. 

I'm rearranging my sewing room next week.  I'm getting an overstuffed chair with a white linen cover, a little bookshelf and I'm painting up an old desk completely "Amy - style".

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What's holding YOU back?

This past weekend, I attended a seminar that featured Elizabeth George as the primary speaker.  She spoke on loving God with all of our mind, and used one of my favorite verses as her reference - Philippians 4:8.  “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”

How much of my life would be different if I allowed my thoughts to be held in check against this verse!!!

I have a hard time making solid decisions (ones that I don’t unmake 15 minutes later) in some areas of my life.  If it’s a financial concern - I can make that decision.  If it’s a moral concern - I can make that decision.  When it comes to matters of ministry - I can be a mess.  It takes a Perfect Storm for me to have the confidence to take a stand, make a change, make a move, or put my walking shoes to go somewhere else.

Why am I so afraid?  I took a quiz in Oprah’s magazine this morning.  (Don’t judge me - you know those magazine quizzes are quite enticing!)  It was entitled “What is holding you back?” and it was part of an entire section dedicated to discovering and acting on the discovery of what your purpose is in life.

I had to take the quiz twice.  The first time I had nothing holding me back, but the questions were geared toward career changes - promotions, business start up, ambition.  Easy peasy questions.  Then I substituted ministry situations, as well as a recent acceptance that God wants me to use written or spoken words.  (I hope someday to complete that sentence.  It should say “use written or spoken words to…” and then a result or intended goal.  However, all I know to do today is use the words - God hasn’t filled me in as to what they are supposed to actually DO.)  What a mess I made of that quiz!  Of course, the quiz designer assumed a person was held back by a consistently recurring fear - of success OR of failure OR of disapproval.  I had them all.  My biggest fear of all wasn’t in the results, though.  I’m most afraid of ME.

Too much confidence outside a secular or practical situation is terrifying to me.  I know the downfalls of pride, arrogance, misplaced confidence, ego, incorrect conclusions, or mistaking a circumstance as a sign.  I’ve made every one of those mistakes in one area of my life or another.  I’d rather do nothing than mess up a situation with higher consequences than an angry teenager or a reluctantly cooperative vendor.  I’ll do background support instead of fully using my abilities so that the liability isn’t mine.  “Just following orders, here.”

Do your fears paralyze your drive?  Do your worries stop you in your tracks?  Does your chewing gum lose it’s flavor… oops - occasionally my mind goes on a side trip.  Do you find that by the time you’ve thought through all the variables, possibilities, methods and madness of something - you’ve become bored with the subject and you walk away - believing it’s not for you, or you wouldn’t have lost interest?  Are you looking for a reason to sit on the bench so you don't have to face the uncertainty of the game?

Is God able to use you, or do you believe rational lies  rationalize your way out of each and every opportunity that comes your way.  Fess up! 

Here is how my own trip to the bench sounds in my head. 

“I don’t want to get my ego involved or look like a difficult person, so I will just adjust to changes that I really feel are detrimental to the ministry I’m involved in.  I’m just me, what will they think if I start interjecting my opinions with confidence?  I’ll just be quiet.  I don’t want to seem arrogant or prideful, so I won’t refer to myself as a writer.  There have been centuries, no, millennia of compositions produced by people with amazing lives and important revelations - am I deluded with sinful self-importance to think I could say something that hasn’t already been said - maybe I should just point at other people’s writings.

“This is probably a waste of time to write about so publicly, because there is no usefulness to the tedious and boring sorting out of my psychological, emotional and spiritual baggage.  One day I’ll get blindsided with the revelation that I‘m foolishly diving into a writing pool that I‘m not qualified to swim in.  Am I boring God with my subject material?  Should I write something different?”

It is Satan that accuses the brethren.  He is called the accuser in Revelation 12, but his work is seen many places in the Bible. Elizabeth George shared that when her first manuscript was sent to the publisher - a publisher that requested she write the book in the first place (this wasn’t something she’d pursued out of the blue) it was turned down in a blaze without glory.  She went for a walk that afternoon and in her head, this thought started, “Who did you think you were… to write a book… who do you think you are to think they’d publish it…”  I could hear that accusation in my own head in a multitude of situations and circumstances.

God has an opposing view to Satan‘s accusation that you are mistaken to believe you have something to offer - Psalm 139.  If you want to know exactly what God knows about you - read that chapter.  He’s not only “in the loop” on who you are - he owns the loop.  Verse 14 says - “I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works.”  Are you thankful for how God made you?  This is the chapter of the Bible God brought to Elizabeth’s mind to remind her that she was his wondrous work - fearfully and wonderfully made.  She had the talents he wanted her to have she didn’t have the ones he intended that she didn’t have. 

Not trusting our own discernment when it comes to our aspirations and heart’s desire is normal.  Gideon was visited by an Angel of the Lord and told that he was selected to deliver Israel from the Midianites.  Gideon balked, “Who, me?  Don’t you know that my family is the least in Manasseh, and I’m the BABY of the family!”

God assured Gideon that he would go with him, and yet Gideon had a hard time believing that he, of all the people God had to choose from, was selected by God to do this important thing.  He proceeded to make the angel wait while he prepared an offering.  Gideon didn’t just go out to the barnyard and bring in a lamb - he made bread, put the meat in a basket, put the broth into a pot and brought all of this out to the angel.  The angel touched the offering with his staff and it burst into fire.   Gideon was astonished! 

The angel commanded that Gideon pull down the altar his father built for Baal and present a burnt offering there.  Gideon was too afraid to do so in broad daylight, so he did it under the cover of night.  The community was outraged and when they found out who did this, they requested Gideon’s dad to present Gideon so they could put him to death for what he’d done.

Gideon‘s dad said, “If Baal is mad, let him defend himself.  If he’s a god, surely he can do something about this himself.” 

Gideon was still plagued by the doubt that God had this special thing for him to do.  He told God about it.  Time and again he pleaded for God to not be angry with him, but to provide additional evidence that He truly wanted Gideon to deliver the Israelites.  (I can relate to Gideon’s mistrust of his own senses, can you?)  Not only did God provide reassurance and signs for Gideon, but he whittled away the army Gideon started with from 22,000 to 300.  There would be no doubt at the end of this campaign that God had a plan that no rational general would use as his strategy.

James 1:5 encourages us to take our lacking selves to God directly… “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

So, when you find that you don’t have the wisdom to discern whether or not God wants to use you, whether or not you can accomplish his tasks, whether or not he has a plan for you - because of whatever roadblocks from your own past or background make you unfit for duty - take it to him.  Ask for wisdom, and he will give it - without reproach. 

He already knows what you’re feeling and thinking, so if you think you’re going to surprise him with an unknown failing in your character that will shock him…. You are no different than the 5 year old with chocolate all over his face believing that his mother doesn’t know chocolate is one of the desires of his heart - remember Psalm 139 where it says “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, Though dost know it ALL.”

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are God’s works and you are one of them.  Only Satan benefits from making you believe that you are a useless mistake.  Only Satan benefits from accusing you of being sinful in acknowledging that God’s word is true and he can not only use someone like you, but he can and wants to use YOU.  It isn’t because you are perfect, because who exactly could you relate to if you were?  Jesus doesn’t need you to minister to him.  He‘s already aware of his own superspectacularness.  It’s when your broken humanity is changed by God into something new and surprising (not surprising to God, but to those that are NOT omniscient) that the miracle occurs.

He gives you the talents he wants you to have.  You possess what he wants you to possess to start his work.  While you may doubt your abilities in relation to others that you believe are better qualified, the truth is this isn’t a job interview, where God will pick just one - it’s a call to action.  If God is for us, who can be against us?  You already know who - don’t be his accomplice.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Usually, It Isn't Enough To Be A Good Wife

We, women of a mother's age, balk whenever we hear of a young woman barely out of high school getting engaged.  At least I do.  Perhaps because I know what she doesn’t know yet.  I know that she will put all of her emotion into this man that she’s newly in love with.   She, if she is odd and knows who she is, is in danger of forgetting all of that in a desire to bond and connect with him.  Most times, she doesn’t know who she is yet.  She’s unaware of the gifts and talents that God has given to her for satisfying her longing soul by moving faithfully within His will. 

In Genesis, when God is explaining the consequences for Adam & Eve’s prohibited snack, He says to Eve in Genesis 3:16 “…Yet your desire shall be for your husband...”  This puzzled me when it was brought up at my weekly Bible study.  I’d never paid any attention to that phrase, most likely because it’s followed up with that “and he shall rule over you” phrase which we have all heard more times than we’ve enjoyed.  My friend from Bible study gave me a fresh perspective on this.  She said, “We will always be longing toward our husband.  Even if he isn’t meeting all of our emotional needs, we will always be longing for that and looking to him.”  Suddenly, I realized how many problems in marriages surrounding me directly reflects back to this explanation.

How many times have I sat in church without my husband and my thoughts distracted away from the message, wishing my husband was there, or, rather than taking the word for myself, I considered his circumstances, his unhappiness, his stress, his needs and applied the sermon to them in his absence. 

How many times has my mother gone to see the changing leaves, out for lunch, to church or a community event and felt lonely because my dad didn’t want to go with her. 

There is much undone by women of God because we want the companionship of our husband but he doesn’t share our desire, interests, mission or purpose. 

It may seem that we are simply living a self sacrificing life - but I believe that we are sacrificing our purpose and work on this earth for God in order to cling to our husband.  In God's design for a marriage, he tells a man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and they should be as one flesh.  He does not say to leave God and cleave to his wife.  I can't imagine he would want a woman to do so.

How many women have spent years with a physically or emotionally abusive man because she just could not break that bond she felt for him.  A bond that is one-sided and certainly not glorifying to God, as she allows the years of destruction to rob her of joy, purpose, fruits of the spirit, inspiration, thought, or direction from God because her desire for her husband overshadowed it all.  This is truly the worst case scenario of this curse. 

We’ve each been created as individuals.  We’re not appendages of our husbands, nor are we tools or extensions of our husband's spiritual identity.  God addressed Eve personally - he didn’t say, “Adam - you figure out what to do with your wife, as it doesn‘t concern me personally.”  We have an individual identity with God, and though our emotional longings threaten to pull us away - we’ll miss much of the fruits of the spirit that have little to do with who we are married to, if we don’t acknowledge and then move in accordance to the identity God created within us.

Many wives will tell you that the stress from her husband’s job takes him far away from God and from a spiritual dependence upon him.  He doesn’t trust God through the difficult times, or believes that he is on his own, which is obviously an exhausting heart condition to operate from.  Adam’s punishment was to experience exhausting labor because of a curse on the ground.  Regardless of our husband’s profession, we can see the same result of exhaustion due to the stress of obstacles that thwart his efforts as the thistles and thorns have done to farmers for millennia. 

Our preoccupation with our husbands can misdirect us away from God in the same manner.  The true consequence of Adam & Eve’s faithless and disobedient behavior is a distance from God.  Physically they had to leave the garden, and spiritually, we’ve allowed our preoccupation with our husbands to pull us away from Him ever since.

As women, it’s important that we teach a young woman that she will always have an identity with God that is her own personal intimate relationship and responsibility.  Her husband cannot live that out for her.  She will of course feel love, desire, devotion and a deep connection to her husband - but she must also have a conviction to not allow it to push God so far into the background that she can't hear his voice.  She may have a work or mission that she shares with her husband, or she may have one that is completely personal, and she must have faith that God wouldn't fill her with the talents, passions, purpose and conviction to complete that work if it doesn’t matter to him whether she acts on it or ignores it.

A young woman should know who she is to God before she commits to being a wife to a man.  She should know God’s voice and hear it clearly before she tragically reduces it to background noise as her desire turns toward her husband.

And ALL of that was what I’ve heard in my spirit for the last couple days that I was quiet and obeying God’s recent mystifying, yet persistent conviction that I needed to hang up the telephone, go to a festival by myself (while my husband gathered our last cord of firewood and I was unable to help because my hand was burned), paint my nephew’s bedroom (in solitary quiet without so much as a radio), and enjoy taking the long way home - so that I could hear Him tell me to believe Him, trust Him, and write this - because it's always the right time to hear God and act upon his instruction.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Beauty Of Microplush Skin Of The Over 40 Woman

My mother is in her sixties.  A couple decades ago, I noticed the back of her hand was so soft, I  barely registered that I was touching something.  It was similar to the cheek of a newborn baby... that soft.

I'm 46.  My hands do not have that super-soft condition.  My face, however is another thing.  It's actually very nice to touch... and yet... I know that it's become that way because the elasticity previously holding it up, firm and taut and smooth is wearing out... like the elastic of the bra that was put through the hot dryer one too many times.

Last week Terri Hatcher was on Oprah.  She took pictures and videos of herself with no makeup - fresh from the bathtub.  Guess what?  Under fluorescent lighting, with no makeup, hair untamed - she looks as scary as the rest of us do! 

My daughters are in their 20's.  They are pretty, fresh, and lovely.  They are still learning that sometimes there is no rational reason why something won't work - and yet it just doesn't.  They over-schedule their time and their energy levels.  They still lose their keys and their wallets.  Their cars get dangerously close to an empty gas tank and they are sure they will still make it "there and back" before they have to get gas.  One day I was dangerously close and called one to see how many miles I can go on one "dot" registering on my Honda.  The answer was about 30 - 40 miles.  (I won't be held responsible for you running out of gas... but if you are 3 miles from the gas station, don't get frantic.)

I fill up at just under the half tank mark.  I live 20 miles from the affordable (cough, cough) gas station, and I drive a Jeep - so I don't play around with this stuff.  An emergency could arise and I don't want to be getting gas on my way to the really good (no cough, cough for that) hospitals in Pittsburgh, which are a 90 minute drive.

Perhaps I'm not in the majority, but I get caught up in the desire to be ageless.  To look 35 at 60 would be OK with me.  After all... my husband's eyes aren't going to fall out at 49, and there are entirely too many people not making love in their 50's, 60's and 70's - and while I'm sure there are many reasons for that, it breaks my heart to think of my husband not desiring to experience that with me.  I live in fear of losing the woman I was.  But, let's face it... much of her exterior has already changed... arms, thighs, butt, elevation of the bust line, that flesh above my knees, the sharpness of my jawline, the place where my eyeshadow is now hidden.

On the other hand, I like the woman I am today more than at any other time in my life.  I never lose my keys or run out of gas.  I know that time doesn't stretch just because I've scheduled 8 hours of stuff in 4 1/2 hours, which saves me so much misery.  I've gotten to know God in a way that is more deep and honest than when I thought he was a genie and answered all my wishes.  I see my husband's flaws have a positive side and wouldn't change them, even if I could.  I know I can't change anyone but myself, but I also have the wisdom to give advice in a way that other people can actually hear it instead of bashing them over the head with it.  I'm not offended when they don't take it.

In truth... I like the way my face feels.  It's like those micro-plush blankets in the store that we all have to touch, even if we aren't buying one today.  As the internal woman becomes more wise and holds a more distinct shape, it seems God sees fit to wrap that smart cookie in super softness.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Envy, Rivalry & Bridge Jumping

Isn't it curious that we can appear to be envious of something that, in truth, we would never want to have?

I'm sure you know this story.  There's a guy or girl at work that just never seems to get what they have coming to them.  Late to work, calls off sick with that "morning after" illness, does more chatting than working, and exhibits some other negative qualities that we would be embarrassed for people to see in us... yet she has no problem with the reputation it gets her with her coworkers.  If her coworkers were boss - she'd be fired - after she was properly humiliated, of course.

Or maybe you have a sister or brother that doesn't work as hard as you, doesn't pay his bills on time, overindulges on the things he wants and mom and dad bail him out time and time again.  Perhaps with what you believe is your inheritance!  Don't worry about that... your parents are leaving your inheritance to the humane society, or perhaps to a foundation to benefit people who can't drink milk.  Hey, they're our parents - they do weird stuff, right?

We wouldn't want to be in the shoes of these slackers - because, quite frankly, they stink... although... probably not since they have a selection of shoes that make you drool and they never wear the same pair twice.  (In all likelihood that is where your sister's mortgage money really went.)  But, in all truth - we don't want to be like that... it just ticks you off that they get away with it.

I have news for you (the kind of news that makes you change the channel, unfortunately).  It's all sibling rivalry.  One way or another they are our siblings on this planet - even if we don't share genetic material.

I know a guy (I'll call him Dave) that wanted this one particular job so bad.  He finally got it.  He hates it.  He likes the work.  He likes the hours.  His boss pays him well.  His boss appreciates his work and he lets him know.  Dave hates his job because he's jealous.  He's jealous that another guy (I'll call him Lou) talks too much, kisses up to another boss and that boss is happy to accept the ego boost, calls off work more often than he should and doesn't give 100% in the work place.  Dave has no respect for Lou and desperately wants him to get what he 'deserves'.

Lou's behavior doesn't impact Dave's job.  His workload doesn't increase because Lou is a slacker of sorts.  But... Dave spends an inordinate amount of time watching for Lou's screw ups and bothering his boss with the tattling.  Dave is also so angry at Lou that he blows up at him - going so far as to "invite" Lou out to the parking lot.  Dave was in line to become a foreman, but his jealousy has cost him the respect of the other employees and he will be passed over when the time comes to name a foreman.  Dave is 45.  Lou is 26.

Dave doesn't want to be anything like Lou, nor would he want people to think of him as Lou is generally thought of.  It isn't Dave's company.  He and Lou are work-siblings.  Dave is paid well.  He could just ... let it go...  But he has let this ruin a job that was perfect for him.

Another situation... two sisters...  Beth is married to a wonderful guy.  She has 2 children - 17 & 21.  They are well adjusted.  She has a beautiful home.  She's pretty, thin, educated and successful by worldly accounts.  Jackie has 2 kids in their early 20's.  One is an irresponsible single mother with an attitude problem and the other has had frightening mental health and addiction issues.  Jackie is overweight, broke, raising her grandchildren, and would give you the shirt off her back.  Beth probably would as well - but it costs Jackie more to do so, and she wouldn't tell other people about it later.  Jackie's dad helps her and her kids out - financially as well as other ways.  While acknowledging that she would never want to be in that situation, Beth is really angry that her sister is getting this help.  An outsider would presume that Beth doesn't feel her sister deserves anything good in her life at all, since there is obviously so much that is hard in Jackie's life.

Even the apostle Peter said to Jesus, "What about him?  What does he have to do?" in reference to John.  Jesus' reply was to tell Peter it was none of his business what Jesus would have John do... Peter was to do what Peter was told to do.  In other words, Peter... "If John jumped off a bridge, would you want to jump off a bridge too?  Mind your own business!"

How much of our life's misery is caused by sibling rivalry.  Rather than gratitude for our own blessings, we resent that someone else is getting something we feel they don't deserve.  In truth... and in the eyes of OUR siblings... how much do we, in fact, deserve the good things that are in our lives.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Distraction of Something Good (or not) From What Is Best

This spoke to me.  I thought of teenagers and people less experienced than myself so easily drawn into the superficial distractions of life around them.  The list on this video doesn't draw me in, and I felt the attitude creeping in that is usually portrayed with an all-knowing  a "more knowing" look and thoughts of how frustrating it is to watch the "unknowing" buy into all this distraction.

However... my family is planning a trip to an amusement park to celebrate my brother's 40th birthday.  This past weekend found me in rare usual form when in the midst of getting ready for a family event.  Frazzled over gathering ticket money, arranging transportation, planning food, the phone ringing off the wall (if I had actually hung it up, which I hadn't... so it was ringing from virtually every flat surface in my house throughout the day).

Too often family events become my nightmare as people mess with the plan, rethink the plan, rethink the date & time, don't have transportation, can't afford the plan, want to dictate food assignments, can't afford the food assignments, show up late, change the menu the day of the event, or just talk every detail to death.  I am almost always in the position of being the only one willing to or responsible insane enough to sew it all together into a coherent activity.

I know this griping sounds ugly.  It looks ugly too.  I dearly love my family, but I resent being in charge of accommodating everyone's suggestions, which feel like demands.  Too many years of doing it and the family keeps growing - which just leads to more suggestions and more hoop jumping desires to strangle family members with said hoop.  I am literally numb, exhausted and angry - event after event after event.  And of course the guilt from those feelings eat me up.

After sharing yet another frenzied rant eloquent analysis of my frustration, I summed it all up to my darling husband this way... because he just never gets enough of the insanity that overcomes me a week before a family get together.. "Am I being wrong?  Am I being selfish?  I don't know how much is right?  I don't know if I'm being wrong!!!!  I just want to run away!"  I lost the ability to use any words I learned past first grade.  I've been found sobbing on my knees at the foot of my bed after yet another Thanksgiving Day breakdown.

I remember when my mother came out of rehab and she pulled back from us.  I heard a lot of "I have to focus on me.  This is MY time."  I understand that better now that I'm no longer 19, but there is still a feeling of oppression when I consider the role I've played in my family from a young age.  I'm sure I've lost the ability to discern how much is enough... apparently "Too Much" will eventually reveal itself - but by then - it's too late. 

Today I'm waiting for the plumber to show up.  Water is being conserved - no laundry, dishes, shower, housework - and I'm sitting in the grass in my front yard.  I'm providing amusement to a variety of bugs, and apparently a landing strip for skydiving spiders.  2 Daddy long legs have run across my composition book in the time I've taken to write this.  I feel as though I'm on vacation, it is that refreshing.  I should step away from the phone (a huge distraction for me) and have this little bit of time each day...

God loves a cheerful giver.  I'm not being cheerful about all of this.  I can twist it all up into a need for changing my attitude, or I could be honest.  Honestly, I'm not doing this to please God.  I'm doing it to make up for and fix all of the weirdness of my family.  I'm doing it to give my family, and myself, what I idealized as the normal family - when I was just a kid in a dysfunctional home with an alcoholic mother and no dad on the premises, watching television programs with moms baking pies and dads going to work, and Walton family holidays. 

My family is my distraction from what is best.  They haven't done this TO me, I've done it to myself.  Trying to transform a messy tangle of people into a family with idealized traditions and interactions is an exhausting job that I became convinced was a necessary one.

The main problem with being a people pleaser is that you can't please God... there are just too many people.  They want too many different things. 

I have to accept that my mother wasn't playing the role of martyr, and forgive her for running out of physical, emotional or spiritual resources while I was still in need - physically, emotionally and spiritually ... because that is the superglue that keeps me stuck here.  I have judged her in a way that I can't bear to be judged myself.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pop Culture or Christianity - the bigger threat to Feminism

I read that Anne Rice is turning her back on Christianity.  She is still a Christ follower, but doesn't want to hang out with His peeps... all of whom are apparently anti-gay, anti-feminist, and anti-democratic, in addition to anti-science, and a few other anti's thrown in for good measure.  Then I read all of the comments left by people who were apparently applauding Anne's decision to be pro everything, and not anti.  They went on and on about the hatefulness toward women in religious groups, and gave a big Kudos to Anne.

And I sat there slack-jawed.  Our popular culture, of which no condemnation was forthcoming from these "pro-feminist" posters, degrades women on a daily basis.  A few days earlier, Showbiz Tonight was discussing how a "leaked" sex tape is good for a woman's career.  Britney shows her Hoohah off as she gets out of a car and she sells more records.  Rap songs call women bitches and whores.... and these people are concerned with the threat that Christians pose to feminism?  Seriously?   

Feminism:  the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

Wasn't the feminist movement born of frustration in an attempt to be taken seriously, respected for our abilities and opinions, opportunities to speak and make a difference in our world, and to succeed in careers that we were previously prohibited from even entering - much less excelling...

Evidently if you have "made it" as a woman by way of releasing a home made porn tape, flashing people in exchange for money, using your vajayjay to get stuff bought for you by men, and are called all kinds of derogatory names, you are A-OK.

Of course, you've completely sold out your sisters by advertising that we are, ultimately and foremost, just a bunch of dressed down flesh, carrying around a head used for selecting shoes - but evidently NOT underwear, eying up our next sugar daddy while flaunting our most important asset - an always visible vagina.

In opposition to that view is the portrayal of a married woman in Proverbs 31.  She's an entrepreneur, land owner, real estate investor, hard working, up before dawn, skillful, a provider for her family, respected all over town.  She's competent and smart, and her husband is lucky to have her.

It sounds like a lot of hard work - running around without underwear is certainly less labor intensive.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kim Kardashian & the Bieb

Several days ago I became aware of a boy named Bieber and a 29 year old woman that made some complimentary comments about him.  There were several commentators discussing the inappropriate compliments and the double standard that exists between a teenage boy and an adult woman as opposed to a teenage girl and adult man.

The next day I saw a program that highlighted 15 women best known for the crimes that they had committed.  Included in this program was a woman in her early or mid 20's caught having an affair with a 14 year old male student.  She eventually received probation or some such non-imprisonment punishment... I think she had to pick up garbage too.  My husband walked through the room.

"Who's that?"

I explained the story.

"oh.  I know you don't believe me... but that kid's fine.  Psychologically, physically and emotionally just fine.  Her ex husband may not be... but the kid.. Yeah, he's fine and all his friends are jealous."

I'm done arguing this point with him.  He doesn't believe me that boys are molested by very hot teachers.  He simply referred to a Van Halen song and reminded me that the song would not have been so successful if all the boys were offended by the concept.

I'm glad we had daughters... the lines are incredibly more clear to him where his daughters are concerned.  Yeah, he wouldn't be saying... "she's fine and her friends are jealous."  He'd be saying, "I understand my rights, but the guy needed killing."  He'd have said that about some of their boyfriends if I hadn't been around to save them, actually.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Large reflective silver letters, the kind you see on a mailbox, strung across the bottom lip of her trunk lid. DO NOT HIT ME. What possesses a woman to stick that onto her car, and does it really work? If so, should we then put warning symbols and messages on various parts of our car? Maybe a warning on the side of your car that says, “Don’t bump me with your door!” or perhaps “Don’t run over my head.” on motorcyclists helmets.

Do you happen to worry about that?  I see people tailgating a motorcycle and all I can think is… he's one pothole away from sliding out and having his head run over. Back off!!!  WIWWP. You may not be familiar with this set of initials... there is WWJD, LOL, FBI and WIWWP - What Is Wrong With People?

Saturday, we were melting in 90+ degree heat, and humidity that was almost to the comfort level for guppies, at my grandson’s 5th birthday party. Old people were fainting in the yard, mothers so slick with sweat babies were sliding out of their arms onto the ground, hello hugs were given with tiny fingertip taps on one another’s back in order to avoid actually touching a sweaty loved one.
We hooked the lawn wagon up to the quad, put about 4 inches of hay in it, to absorb the bumps for those bony little bums, and covered the hay with sheets to protect the little girl legs in their summer sundresses, and we called it a hay ride. 5 children fit in the 3’ X 3.5’ wagon. 2 - 5 year olds, a 3 ½ year old, and 2-one year olds. Could’ve fit 6, but one 3 year old little girl was wrapped around her poor mom’s blue jean decoupaged clad leg. We rode through the yard, down the driveway a bit, then took a trail through the woods to a large clearing, turned around and came back… Birthday boy shouting FASTER! The one year olds with their arms stretched out along the tops of the wagon as though they were old men riding on the back of someone’s golf cart. One last bumpy turn through the yard where we found my husband with his new water gun. (Target is clearancing their larger water guns, should you be looking for a good buy) "Grandad" turned our hay ride into a water adventure as we drove past.

Earlier a 5 gallon bucket had been filled with water so the kids could fill their squirt guns for a ‘knock down the cup’ game. On the fly, we found that the water guns weren’t powerful enough to knock down the cups, so they turned them on each other. And then… cups were found, and pandemonium ensued. Decoupage girl was hit square in the face with a full glass of water. She turned around and her cup was dropped dramatically to the ground, almost in slow motion as her disgust was fully displayed. I ran over, grabbed the cup, adventured to the bucket and filled it for her - so she might exact her revenge. As I turned to hand it to her… shplash… no good deed goes unpunished, one of my own grandsons emptied a full glass onto the small of my back.

The bucket was refilled at the hose, and moved back to where the children stood waiting, anticipating, water dripping from their drowned rat cute little faces. 2 refills later, the kids realized that the spigot was on, and all they had to do was twist the nozzle and… and… all hell broke loose. Birthday Boy started to innocently fill the bucket but then took to giving any squealing girl or nuisance 3 y.o. brother a good squirt in the face. Or a granny a squirt in the back as she stood talking to an adult… Bwahahahah - I could hear it inside his head.. He was pleased with himself.

When he learns to read - I’m putting those big reflective letters across my bum - DO NOT SPLASH ME, OR I WILL MAKE YOU EAT REAL FOOD FOR DINNER AT MY HOUSE!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday, we were on our way to Florida. We stopped at Applebees for dinner around 4 o'clock.  I sat in our little booth, looking out the window at the parking lot and realized - there were no Jeeps there. (I'm missing my Jeep)  Then I realized why.  The Jeep people were out driving their Jeeps and having too much fun to stop for dinner.  I was so jealous.  Yes, I was getting to drive my husband's new company truck - gorgeous Ford F-250, blue with lotsa Chrome.

Chrome is capitalized because it's... well, it's Chrome!

But it wasn't my new used Jeep.  I'm concerned about Jack, my Jeep.  My Civic was the ultimate in mouse housing, it would seem.  I moved a family of babies out of my spare tire, and ultimately killed 10 of them.  Another soon moved in, and it was a constant battle.  I'm thinking of undercoating Jack so that the smell deters the nesting instinct of the more discriminating mousketeers.  Does anyone have any tips for mouse annoyance?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The New Jeep

I drove the Honda to the car lot last Thursday.  Our last ride together on the way to pick up my new used Jeep Grand Cherokee.  Sinead (that's the Civic's name - yes, my cars have names and so does my piano) hugged the curves and zipped along - that's what Civics do - they zip.  A camaro zooms, a corvette sails, and a Jeep... a Jeep?  A Jeep powerfully climbs over the pavement.  Just the word Jeep makes you feel like you can climb mountains inside your vehicle.  Air conditioning suddenly seems sissified.  I'm thinking that because for the first time this summer, on a really hot day, my husband put all the windows down, opened the sunroof and turned off the A/C for our ride Sunday.

Yesterday my Jeep & I rumbled down the interstate to visit a relative in the hospital.  I realized that if I wanted to, I could back into a space simply by pulling in and just climbing over the two parking "stoppers" into the parking space in front us.  I could easily clear them.  I didn't do that (the lot was too full), but I COULD have!  I felt unstoppable.

I have a tow hitch on the back.  This means that I could just go buy a boat, if I had the money, and tow it myself.  No more bothering my husband to pick up stuff in his truck... I could buy a little trailer and haul it myself!  I could chain my Jeep to the decorative pillars on a mean person's porch and just pull them off, if I wanted to.  Yes, that's what I said. 

I can go to town this winter in 4 inches of snow, where the Honda wimped out in 1 inch.

I have a bad feeling that I'm going to run the wheels off this Jeep because it's just too fun to drive.  I wake up trying to think of places I need to go to, instead of procrastinating everything into one practical trip.

I think I need to drill for oil - this Jeep could get a little expensive, but Oh is she worth it!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Who Are You? Do You Have a Purpose?

I don't have a job.  Not to say I don't work, but no taxes are taken out of my income and if I were to collect my Social Security payment now, it would cover only my utilities.  I've had numerous jobs in my lifetime, but apparently when you average out that income over the years that I haven't had a paying job, the numbers aren't in my favor.

The most important work that I've done in my life, to date, was raising my daughters and being a part of my amazing family.  Have you done that?  Have you placed value on your contribution to your family - your spouse, kids, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandchildren, nieces and nephews?  Building people is the foundation of everything else that is built, discovered, and invented.  If you haven't worked outside the home - never say, "I was just a homemaker" or "I was just a stay-at-home-mom" with apology in your voice - look around at all the kids today who would love to come home to their mom every day instead of a daycare or babysitter.  Building children is a very hard job and many parents today aren't up to the task, or haven't had the luxury (oh, it was anything BUT luxurious at times, I know) of being a full time parent. The extended family is that much more important to the lives of those children. 

My daughters are grown, my husband has risen to a position that emotionally exhausts him, but makes an income that covers what we need and want.  I've dabbled a bit, with several businesses of my own, but a couple years ago, I closed my book selling business in order to devote some time to important events in our family and it just never seemed the right time to start it up again.  So, I've grand parented some, spent excessive amounts of time on the telephone talking with the women in my family - up generations and down generations, kept the home fires burning (literally - we heat with wood to a large extent), the dogs fed - trained - walked, contributed to my veterinarian moving up into a higher tax bracket - my animals like to go visit the vet on Sundays - in a very fast car - this usually involves porcupines or vomiting or bleeding.  I take responsibility for making sure my husband is fed healthy meals, pay our bills, run all the errands, plant the gardens, harvest the gardens, volunteer here and there, and I work hard to give my husband a home and wife that feel good to retreat to after his hectic work days. Not having a paying job that demands my time elsewhere allows me to be and do all of that, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity.

But it's a time for change in my life.  A shifting of responsibilities to allow time for a different "purpose".

I've known for decades that I need to write.  I don't know what I'm supposed to write (this makes for some rambling rough drafts) but I know that I need to write.  I don't know what the end result is supposed to be, but I figure I'll just keep writing until I satisfy the purpose in it.  It may have nothing to do with the reader and everything to do with me.  I'm trusting God to make sense and purpose of it, as I ramble onward.

What do you need to do?  What is your purpose?  What is your passion?  I think the mundane can anesthetize us into a life on autopilot.  We handle problems as they arise, we go to work, we pay our bills, we get the car fixed, we eat our dinners, we procrastinate our fitness programs, we buy new stuff, and then fall back to regroup before handling those steps of daily life again.  Is that living?  It seems more like one of those car rides at the amusement park - you can press the gas or the brake and steer - as long as you don't veer too far from that metal rail down the center... you don't really choose a direction or path of your own.

I would love to hear replies to these questions - not because I need to hear them, but because you need to acknowledge that you know the answers.  Who Are You?  What is your passion?  What is your purpose?  How do you impact the world?  I can't think of more fascinating comments to read.  It's exhilarating to be in the presence of a person with purpose.

Maybe you've never asked these questions of yourself.  Perhaps you think it's a selfish endeavor, but I assure you, it isn't.  Imagine if the great minds of our society refused to use their natural, (I believe God-given) talents because it felt self centered to focus on their own genius and allow it to expand and grow.  Someone in this world is counting on YOUR talents.  One day, at your funeral service, He or She could stand up and give gratitude for the significance you had in his/her life simply because of your selfless use of your distinctive and inherent You-ness. 

It would seem selfish for you to decline to use the gifts, opportunities and access that you alone have to be a person of impact, wouldn't it?  

Monday, July 12, 2010

This morning I was reading this article over at Guilty Squid.  It is about a man's exciting reunion with old friends and the deterioration of his shoes due to battery acid or perhaps glue meltage.. ?  There are pictures available if you're tired of words after reading this lengthy and adjective filled post.
It contained this quote, "Honestly at this point in the story as he’s telling me I’m only half interested much like you reading this right now." And this started me thinking...

I used to complain that my husband couldn't remember things that I'd had 5 minute conversations with him about. I've joked that - to my husband - my voice must frequently sound like Charlie Brown's teacher, "Wa waaa, wa waa waa waaa."  In all seriousness, the man was making noises during the conversation of some sort, because I demand it.  "Could you make a noise so I know you hear I've paused in my fascinating story and to indicate you're still with me!?!?!?"

Apparently, it's contagious because I hardly ever know what he's talking about now, and I've come to hear his voice as background music... I may hum along, but I don't really know the words because.... I'm thinking about other things. While I have a love affair with adjectives of my own, I've found that I like him to "get to the point."

He has also picked up on an annoying little habit from ME, which ends a long bunch of information with a question. Not just a question like, "What's for dinner?" (Which he asks me every morning at 7 o'clock, as though I even care about dinner before my morning coffee fix.) No, this is a question that can only be answered by a good wife - one that has paid a smidgen of attention to the last 5 sentences that he was sharing with me. In other words... the TRICK question.

I've been springing those TRICK questions on him for years. Lately, he's been getting better at answering them because he's been beaten into submission by accusatory noises from my throat  I've become even more fascinating.  Evidently, he has learned to expose my selective attention span and hypocrisy help me find him more fascinating as well.

So, my tricks are backfiring on me.  I'm making a conscious effort to NOT influence him to becoming more visually observant.  The last thing I need is a husband that has looked at me hard enough to see that my makeup hasn't covered the blemish that is in some kind of time warp that brought it from the 80's onto my 46 year old chin, and the skin on my forearms does ugly things when I pinch it just like this....  see that?  UGH! 

So, the next time I walk through the living room with my robe on over my jeans, dragging the 3rd shirt out of the laundry basket, I'm going to resist the fun in asking him how I look, just so I can catch him saying "Great!" without looking my way.  This game is not going to become more fun as years go by if he starts to really look at me!   

In fact, I believe it would be risky for him to get that Lasik eye surgery he's been thinking of.  I have a permanent airbrushing going on as long as he takes off his glasses, and I think  I   he might only appreciate that more in the upcoming years.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


My youngest daughter is a cleaning maniac. She has 4 children. She's been known to do dishes at 6:30 a.m. and to drag out the rug shampooer multiple times in a week due to the occasional spill or a 3 year old that has taken to "marking his territory" behind the left arm of the couch in the toy room. Never has another species of God's creation ever had so much fun with urination as the 3 year old boy.

I swear she was not this tidy when she lived at home. In fact, their room (the one she shared with her sister/s) was notoriously a mess of epic proportions. She says this started when she had her first child and didn't want to be the mom with a messy house... ???!!!! (I would have appreciated this kind of conscience when they lived at home and I was constantly closing their bedroom door to prevent guests from seeing the heinous crimes of filth that were taking place in there.)

I believe parts of the cleanliness illness started while she was in the army. It was while she was in the army that ironing was introduced to my youngest. When she came home, she ironed (and starched... yes, I said starched) her t shirts, she ironed her jeans, and to this day - you will not see a neater looking t-shirt in the tri-state area. (There is apparently no correct way to spell tristate/tri state/tri-state) She visited her single sister and was overcome with a desire to iron the clothes that have a permanent residence in the clean clothes basket. Her ironing board is set up in the living room... at all times.

Let's take a trip back... back into time... I'm younger and less dimply, and look tremendous in the midst of those wonderful 30's, putting various teenaged apparel into the washer when I realize that some of the clothes are folded.

"Are these dirty?"


"They are folded. Why are you folding your dirty clothes?"

"We aren't. You folded them."

"I folded them when they were clean."

"Well, they were on the floor, hanging out with the dirty clothes... so... they are dirty again."

I'm trying to be a clean, non-cussing blogger... so we will leave my reply up to your imagination. Please be sure to include in your imagination that I had 2 teenaged daughters still at home, and that they wore at least 2 different outfits every day. My eldest daughter would've been considerate enough to rumple the clothes thoroughly before putting them back in the hamper. Consideration is relative term in the world of teenaged daughters.

Here is a great place for a sock tip. You know how your kids always lose one of their socks? Perhaps you have kids that fight over their socks... one child shoves all of her dirty socks under the bed, the other one puts only 3 pair in the hamper and then a loud physical altercation takes place when both claim ownership of the 2 1/2 freshly laundered pairs of socks (no matter what, one sock always wandered off)... I wrote her initial on the toe of each sock, then provided safety pins to attach one to its mate before dumping into hamper - you have no idea how long it takes to match socks for 3 teenaged girls when each deposits only 1/2 of each pair into the hamper and then one screams because she has one of her delicately worn and not at all ever smelly blue socks paired up with one of her sister's big stretched out smelly, she wore them outside on the porch, blue socks. Voila - tattoed and matched up. It was a thrilling 30 day experiment, after which I had to buy more safety pins because they mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Your mileage may vary.


"Hey, I was putting your clean clothes on your bed and I stepped on something in there. You girls need to clean that room, I'm breaking stuff that I'm sure is buried at least 4 inches deep!"

No reaction.

"Didya hear me?!"

"Oh, yeah. It's ok."

"How do you know it's ok? You don't even know what I broke."

"Well, it's the "on the floor" rule. We decided that if we step on something and it breaks, we don't even look at it. If it was important, it wouldn't be on the floor, so no sense in looking for it and maybe finding out it shouldn't have been on the floor."

The one time they work well together and this is the result.

If this sounds unbelievable... OH YEAH!!! I was hit with stone cold disbelief, thank you very much! I paid for that crap that was no longer even worth looking for! I had wondered why so much stuff was piled permanently ON the foot of their beds. I thought perhaps they had some weird thing they were going through where they needed to sleep up close and personal with their most beloved worldly possessions. Nope - just the last safe place in the room.

So, about 5 weeks ago, my baby girl gave birth to her youngest son. We were sorting clean clothes on one of the days that I stopped in to help out.

"Ok, the clothes with green marker on the labels go in this pile to get ironed, the ones without are play clothes and go in that pile." She instructed. "I iron all of the adult T-shirts."

Her children are - boys ages 4, 3, & 1 month, and a girl of about 16 months.

"You iron the kids' clothes?"

"Only the ones I hang up."

"You hang up size 3T clothes?"

"Only the ones that aren't play clothes."

"You iron this Penguins T-shirt?"


I just didn't know what to say to that.

A Picture of Edward for the Bellas of the World

This is a picture of Edward, 9 years ago, when he was only 100. Apparently the bloodwork has improved his looks, and thus makes him the object of your desire... but inside... yeah, he's still 100.

NOW does it creep you out, like it does me?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Granny's Cigarettes

Does every little girl go through her mother’s belongings? I know I did… but first I’d already snooped through my Granny’s belongings. Her bedroom was a sentimental place for a woman not many considered to be sentimental. She was gruff in her speech, sometimes a cigarette hanging from the corner of her mouth, which seems completely out of character for a Granny - but people are who they are. My granny smoked Lucky Strikes. I remember this clearly; they were the first cigarettes I stole.

In my grandparent's farmhouse kitchen, to the left of the coal stove stood a floor-to-ceiling built-in cupboard - painted pink, like the rest of the kitchen. Solid wood doors hid the treasures on the bottom. Grandad’s riveter was in there. That’s all I knew of for certain - it was dark enough in there to easily hide a sneaky spider or two - and that made it completely uninteresting to me. G lass panes on top gave view to oatmeal (which we called Mother‘s Oats*) as well as my grandmother‘s carton of cigarettes... no spiders.

So, I stole a pack of cigarettes from her carton, found some matches in the junk drawer, and snuck outside. I must have been a sneaky child, because I remember many sneaking incidences… I could probably write a book on sneaking. I picture it being banned and burned at large bonfires by caring mothers. If I hadn’t any morals, I’d probably have become a criminal. Sometimes God saves us to do wonderful work in His name… other times, I think He might save us to prevent the horrible things we might do in our own names. Back to the story… it was a summer day, and I took my stolen cache to the back yard, past the little playhouse and the small fruit orchard to the next big grassy opening.

The back yard was bordered by brush. My grandmother did the mowing, and one area must have had only small plant growth because she’d sculpted out a little cove in the brush that was probably only 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep, but to a little girl… it seemed larger. I headed out there with the cigarettes and my matches. Because it was offset from the main lines of the yard, I couldn’t be seen from the house windows. I lit a cigarette and got a mouth full of tobacco. Lucky Strikes were filterless. It was disgusting. I tried once more and confirmed that this wasn’t exactly the thrill I thought it would be. But a campfire would be! I gathered some little leaves and twigs from under the brush and started my first campfire. It was probably the size of a dessert plate, and not as easy to start as I’d expected. I learned lots about life in my sneaky moments… trial and error of so many scientific concepts more easily, but less interestingly, available in books.

The one lesson that was glaringly obvious was that Granny knew everything. As sneaky as I was - she was even more perceptive. She always credited ‘a little bird‘.

“How did you know I was out here?” with cigarettes hidden under the leaves and matches out of sight as well.

“A little bird told me. Now where are my cigarettes and the matches?” She was amazing - truly amazing. She always caught me. She really understood my sneaky side, and there was no bluffing my way out of anything with her. Daddy was a different story - but Granny knew… and still loved me.

My Granny impacted my life in so many ways. She had time and patience, or perhaps she was just too tired to get riled up. Some would believe that this was a potentially dangerous situation - matches, twigs, cigarettes, and an unsupervised 10 year old - actually, when I put it that way, it sounds terrifying. Fortunately, Granny didn't have the benefit {or curse} of 24 hour news channels and Nancy Grace.

*The Mother's Oats company was acquired by the Quaker Oats Company in 1911.

*I called my grandmother 'Granny' as a direct result of my mother's instruction. I didn't know until many years later that the Beverly Hillbillies played a part in this act.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Are Government Agencies Undermining the Innocence of Our Children

If a child molester believes there is nothing wrong with children participating in sex acts, shouldn't we be attempting to discredit that? Instead, it's propagated by our government when they make condoms available to children in elementary school. Apparently, your child is sexual at the age of 9. Your government says so, it provides tools used only in the act of sexual intercourse to children of any age. Hard to believe? Provincetown, Massachusetts provides condoms to all children of all ages upon request. Parents are not permitted to protect their kids from this age INAPPROPRIATE possession of items intended for use in sexual intercourse. What is next? That question terrifies me, as there shall certainly be something nearly or more offensive in the near future.

If your 10 year old child is busy riding her bike. not at all interested in penises or intercourse, she is the bystander victim of a society that is being told that children are indeed sexually provocative. We want them protected, just in case they decide to have sex on the spur of the moment. Especially if the 13 year old boy down the street decides that no means yes if you nag long enough, or simply disregard the word NO when used in your direction, (see my previous post on not teaching children to accept no for an answer - i.e. Children gone amok)... your daughter has become his fixation, and the school has provided him with condoms. Oh yippee skippee!

If she has been molested, she may, in fact, be more sexually aware and inappropriate for her age. It's like a circle... tell the molesters she's sensually provocative and responsive... the molesters believe they aren't hurting anyone... the child acts out from her rape, and we say... give her condoms! Make sure all the older boys in her school have them too, because we just cannot victimize the innocence of our children often enough!

Still think our society is harmless and helpful? Still think that I'm going too far, getting too worked up over this situation?

What kind of society permits a mother to allow her 12 year old daughter to pretend she's being raped for a part in a movie? What effect does that event have on a 12 year old's development? She has just been exposed to a sexually explicit and abusive scene that 16 year olds wouldn't even be permitted to VIEW in a theater... and she puts her daughter in the movie, under that man, and through the actions of a rape victim - and expects her 12 year old to detach from that experience and for it to have no lasting impact on her. And this isn't child pornography? This isn't child abuse? This isn't molestation? This isn't fodder for every child rapist, or fantasizing pedophile in the world? Do you really believe that a 12 year old that has experienced that is the same as she was before?

Again, I have to ask... What the hell is wrong with people?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Children Are Running Amok

Apparently children everywhere have succeeded in reaching anarchy. Piggy banks were the first fatality. After that, they overtook purses, wallets, and went A.W.O.L. in order to meet their insatiable desire for... Happy Meal Toys. They stole cars - we know this because riding their bikes or walking may have worked off some of those calories from the insidious Happy Meals, dressed up with various toys, including - recently - the 3 Blind Mice from Shrek.

Yes, McDonalds may be sued because their Happy Meal Toys are like heroin to these little 5 year olds. They lose control and become fat.. and the fault is ultimately the Happy Meal Toy. It couldn't be the breakdown of families and neighborhoods, which cause mothers to keep their kids inside where they can be kept safe from the predators that snatch children when parents let their guards down. It couldn't be the proliferation of video game controllers in the hands of toddlers - gluing them to the television sets while their Fisher Price tricycle rusts away in the back yard. (I wonder if there is even a market for those items anymore...) It also couldn't be that their parents pay no attention whatsoever to what the child eats throughout the entire day - day after day - week after week.

IT IS THE HAPPY MEAL TOY!!!! It is making the kids fat by marketing to the children. And we all know... the children who are interested in Shrek toys are in control. Before paying the bills each month, these controlling youngsters are consulted as to where mom and dad should spend their money. They also make decisions on automobile usage, grocery shopping, and housing purchases. They are quite a force to reckon with, it appears... and while she may outweigh him by 100 pounds, and tower over top of him with her height of 5'4" to his 30"... she is no match.

MSNBC Article

Michael Jacobson, executive director of CSPI, says it's the parents responsibility too, but he equates the toy giveaways to a door to door salesman coming to a family's house every day and asking to privately speak with the children.

"At some point parents get worn down," Jacobson says. "They don't always want to be saying no to their children. We feel like an awful lot of parents would be relieved if this one pressure was removed from them."'

Ultimately, it appears that the parents are incredibly burdened by this issue and cannot say no. In fact, one must wonder how many times a day a child throws a fit because he needs a Happy Meal Toy! Where do they learn about these toys? Are Happy Meals the only item advertised on The Cartoon Network? Perhaps the kids should watch PBS and parents could be relieved from all kinds of things that they are apparently too inept to be able to deny their children. Does this mean that kids no longer have bedtimes? Are they allowed to jump on the furniture because they will wear down their parents by constantly doing so anyways? Will we need to limit the number of children parents are permitted to have because they are unable to keep the 3 year old from shoving the 1 year old? Are they really so out of control?

Here's a fantastic solution... Take the kids outside. Ronald McDonald is NOT touring neighborhoods and offering free sample toys to hook your kids; they could use the exercise; they could use a little sun, as they are almost transparent because of their limited exposure to the sun - apparently only on the way to and from the minivan to go to McDonalds.

Is there any reason whatsoever for us to be surprised that when they reach the teen years, they assault their parents with knives when they don't get what they want.

When is our society going to regain a little common sense? What about me, what about me, what about me??? It makes me ill. What about our kids? What about our family? What about our community? What about their future? Parents let their kids run the streets and wonder why they pick up with gangs. If you can't say no to eating at McDonalds 7 times a week, how will you say no to letting them drink alcohol as a teenager, or drive the car after curfew, or when will boys learn that they should respect the word NO from a young lady? Can we sue the CSPI for their detrimental lawsuits removing parental responsibility until our kids are just worthless human beings... running around serving themselves to full helpings of what they WANT instead of what is good or what is right? Heaven forbid that our kids be given any teaching moments that may be uncomfortable... like the word NO. Joran Van Der Sloot could have benefited from learning to respect the word NO.

"Parents don't always want to be saying no to their children." Why does that give grounds to sue someone else. I don't want to say no, so I'm suing the bank for letting me have all these checks and not covering them when I've spent all the cash from my account. Why give me all these checks... a constant harassment to spend money! I can't bear it!

Sometimes I'm thoroughly disgusted by my fellow human beings.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why the Stones and not the Beatles

I should start this by saying, I have nothing against the Beatles. I love the Beatles. I know what their #1 song was the year I was born. I Want To Hold Your Hand. I especially liked Ringo when I was younger, then that changed to George Harrison. Paul was always the one I considered to have the most talent, and to tell you the truth... I just never really connected with John.

Recently someone asked who I'd rather be, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. Most of those asked had selected The Beatles. I picked the Stones. They've been together for 42 years - longer than most marriages - and they are still alive... I'm all for being alive. (I almost said staying alive, but that brings the Bee Gees to mind, and we just can't go there in this topic.) A follow up conversation went something like this.

"Yeah, but which would you rather BE? The Beatles, who were awesome, or The Stones who were ... eh....?"

"I don't think the Stones were 'Eh'!"

Later that evening we attended a very small, intimate concert that opened with a skinny young musician with truly unruly hair, performing his own material. I just googled him and found that he's younger than I thought, which makes me feel older than I felt. As we stood (new concert attending trend - even when it isn't rock your bones and make it impossible to sit still music - which is incredibly distracting if you wear shoes that kill your back), I found myself crying through a good portion of his performance. Not because it was incredibly touching music, because it wasn't. But because I looked around at the crowd and found that there were a few women my age there... and I realized... I was also THEIR age.

While I look out through the same eyes I've always had, the face that others look back at is not. There is a confidence I used to have when I was in a public place. While I am by no means a beautiful woman, I'm attractive to some people. I've managed to snag 2 husbands, though the second one saw my ass before my face... so I used to have a nice one of those as well, 'back in the day'. Now I weigh 15-20 pounds more than I want to. I don't stand up as straight as I used to - laziness, core muscle tone, different weight distribution, bad shoes, heavy purses... who's to say why. Finding clothes that make me feel attractive is near impossible. Jeans, yes... shirts... ugh... big breasts and 5'7" in height work against me finding a shirt that flatters OR fits! If it looks good in the store, it washes once and THWUP... sucks up into a shirt for a b cup woman about 5'3" tall. This is why most women my size end up in sweat shirts or t-shirts. Flattering - no... but at least they fit the curves and are long enough that your underwear aren't flashed to the viewing public if you move a teensy bit off of upright.

Apparently this is the long version.... the Reader's Digest abridged version is unavailable at this time.

Last night, I was obviously old, middle aged, less fresh faced... whatever you wish to call it.. it was suddenly and overwhelmingly painful. My life, which is rich in family and relationships and love, felt as dry and barren as a desert. I stood in that dark room and my life was 46 years worth of... ??? I've done many things I've wanted to do... and last night, my consistent thought was, "I've done nothing. My life has been nothing. I am nothing. These young people have every dream possible in front of them, and mine are old and stale and unfulfilled."

This morning I took a glance at my thighs... no good news there. I got my Ipod, ironed my t-shirt, which has been in the dryer since yesterday, put on my tennis shoes and went for a walk. A good 2 1/2 - 3 mile walk. Ironically... I hit the Stones about 1/3 of the way into the walk... with... "Mother's Little Helper" (What a drag it is getting old....) "Ruby Tuesday" (There's no time to lose, I heard her say. Catch your dreams before they slip away. dying all the time, lose your dreams and you will lose your mind. Ain't life unkind?) ... and followed that up with "Sympathy For The Devil", and then "Under My Thumb" (The girl who once pushed me around, is under my thumb...).

Even if I never mentioned "Can't Get No Satisfaction" or "Beast of Burden" or "19th Nervous Breakdown" or "You Can't Always Get What You Want"... I gotta go with the Stones. There is something real in their music... for ME.

That last song I mentioned reminded me of something. The 'someone' that asked me to make a choice between the Beatles and the Stones was my daughter. When she was a young teenager, and even before that and since, when she and her sisters were denied something, and I was enlightened with their "But I want to....." my reply was a bit of that song (sung off-key, at best)... "you can't always get what you want... no you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find.. you get what you NEED."

I take responsibility for her "... eh ..." Perhaps it has nothing to do with it.. but the way we connect music to every visceral emotion and mood in both of us - I think it has made an impression on her subconscious.

So, thank you to The Rolling Stones. Today was better than last night. Perhaps my pity party is past. (say that 3 times really, really fast). I will pray that they are not still alive due to a pact with the devil - and that maybe they have just pickled themselves and will remain forever preserved for future generations of mid-life crises.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hair Dye, Smelly Dogs & Tornado Warnings

Dump one bottle of smelly ingredients into the other bottle of smelly ingredients. Don the stylish gloves and shake shake shake shake shake. Squirt and drip and make a mess of your towel and a few surprising spots on the counter and floor to be discovered at a later time. The sun is shining, the skies are blue, and grays are disappearing - how much better could this day get!?

Loosely pile the short, smelly locks on top of your head. Let’s be honest here. If it were loosely piled, it’d be hanging over your ears and forehead and making a mess of things. Smathered, slathered, and stuck to your scalp is how we mostly look when we’re dying our own hair, be honest.

A phone call comes in and I maneuver the telephone so as to avoid depositing splotches of unseen hair dye that could later be found smeared across my ear or better yet, my face. The news is... there’s a tornado warning for an area about 30 miles away.

I look out my kitchen window to see my dog in an anxious state. Seems he has caught himself around a tree and cannot get back into his house. For crying out loud… I haven’t a clue why he insists on behaving in such a moronic manner about trees and other immovable objects. He just refuses to acknowledge that if he goes round and round he will NOT win a contest of wills by simply looking pathetic and refusing to go back around said object. The wind is picking up and he’s looking quite disturbed by his predicament.

“Damn”, I breath out. Here comes some hail to further exacerbate the situation. I throw on my shoes and grab the umbrella. Out the front door I go, clutching at the umbrella stem to keep my “loosely piled” and disgustingly permanently staining hair from touching the umbrella, AND to keep the umbrella from being blown from my hands. I don’t know exactly how much time out in the hail/rain it takes to make hair dye run down my face, but I’m not taking chances.

“Come on Mac. This way.” I untangle him from the tree, but now his desires have changed. His house is a substandard arrangement. He wants to go with me. Next door to him is the big baby of our canine family. She hates storms and wind and gun shots. Now she is running laps in her kennel, believing Mommy has come to save her and take her into the house. “Damn!” What if the tornado comes this way? I feel cruel leaving them out here. I unclasp Mac’s lead from the kennel and head over to Molly’s. She’s loose inside, so I simply open the door and out she bursts. 89 pounds of tenacious ferocity when running down an animal. 89 pounds of yellow-bellied cowardice when a strong wind announces a weather change.

At this point, my hands are being distorted, twisted and crushed by Mac’s cable winding around my fingers. I drop the lead and hope he heads to the house. They both do. I struggle along behind them with my unwieldy umbrella. They await me outside our basement Bilco door. I open it and 150 pounds of smelly canines about kill me rushing into the enclosure. The umbrella does nothing to improve the situation.

At this point, I’m remembering that the inside door to the upstairs is open and I’m not sure where my cats are. Molly would happily find and terrify them for me, but I pass on that thought and squeeze past the two excited dogs to get through the basement door alone. Tossing the umbrella aside, I run up the steps to close the door to the kitchen, only to be met with 2 felines frantically trying to go down the stairs because they are freaking out about the howling wind as well.

Think fast! OK, now I need a lead for Molly to maintain order and prevent an expensive and inconvenient emergency veterinarian visit. I scramble around the upstairs looking for a leash. Got it! Back down the stairs.. Cardiovascular workout for the day - Check! I block the door with my foot, leg, all of my body weight while I stick two hands through the opening to secure Molly. Got her! I grab Mac’s collar and follow it to his lead. Got him! They're finally in, but I need to hang onto them while I struggle back up the steps to close the bilco doors.

Whew. Storm is outside. Dogs are under some sort of control and are inside. Cats are quietly cursing me somewhere in the basement.

Hmmm. My hair is going to need rinsed, which means taking both dogs upstairs with me. Their feet are soaked and muddy, so we walk all around the basement trying to dry them and get them somewhat clean before taking them up the unfinished wood steps and across my pale carpet to one of the bathrooms. I opt for the smaller bathroom.

Being the graceful beasts that they are, the three of us barely make it up the steps without one or all of us going off the side. I haven’t a clue where the cats are, but if one shows itself at this point, I’ll kill it myself! We’ve made it to the kitchen, back the hall, and now 2 incredibly smelly dogs are in my bathroom. I give each of them a towel to lay on and drop about 20 feet of leash & lead onto the floor, imagining the worst entanglement to deal with later. One ignores HER towel and messes up the other one. I resmooth them and we try again. They each lay down on command. I reach for the door handle - they get back up. I squeeze through the door while telling them to “stay”, which they are ignoring as they try to squeeze their noses through with me. I escape and run to the other end of the house to collect my watch, the lovely latex gloves, the extra thick creamy conditioner, and another towel.

It’s only been 20 minutes. I need to make it to 40 minutes for the maximum gray coverage. I sit here telling this story with those stubborn grays peeking through, and it’s only been a couple weeks, so you know I didn’t make it. At the 30 minute mark, I’m back in the small bathroom pondering whether doggy smell or permanent hair dye is stronger, and how long the interesting combination of fragrances will last once this ordeal is over.

OK, on my knees by the tub. Dogs are respectfully NOT smelling my butt, for which I say a small thank you. Rinse, rinse, rinse some more. Until the water runs clear, right? Do you really rinse that long? I never make it. Weak tea water and that’s clear enough for me. On goes the extra thick conditioner. Again, I wonder why they don’t sell that stuff in bottles. It’s amazing stuff! Rinse again - no I didn’t make the 2 minutes that you're supposed to let it "condition". It was on and then off. Ta Da! Wrapped in a towel that I hoped not to ruin with my haphazard attention to clear running water, and surrounded by dogs that I no longer could smell, I sit on the toilet lid and take a breath.

Being the spoiled natural dogs that they are, I figure the blow dryer isn’t going to make me any friends here. I squeeze back past the insistent and persistent noses into the hallway and make my way to the other bathroom to dry my temporarily ungray roots and otherwise light ash brown hair. (Light in this context means - this isn’t black, so it’s “light” ash brown.)

Newly dried and silky and shiny and not as smelly from the hair dye, I look out the window to notice that the sky is blue, the hail has stopped, the sun is shining, and no tornado has ripped away those dog kennels at the back of my yard. Figures!

Now to put the dogs out and look for those surprise little hair dye spots around my bathroom before I walk through them with my slippers and polka dot my carpeting. One couldn't make up the frenzied multitude of activites I survive during my day.