Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Past

The sun is shining in the windows lighting up the whole house. I stood at the kitchen window marvelling at the green, if somewhat beaten down, grass and the 52 degrees on the outdoor thermometer. For cripes sake it's December 29th in Iowa! It's supposed to be about 0 to 32 degrees with at least partly gray skies, or at least sunshine sparkling on snow. Oh well, it's a good day to go to the bank and do some other errands. But then the post Christmas doldrums settle over me like a blanket and I slump back into my chair in front of the computer in spite of the sunshine.

With nothing urgent to do, my mind wanders as it has been doing more often lately. I like to think of it as relaxing and meditating, but suspect it has more to do with aging. With 68 years piled up behind me there are many thousands of memories to pass the time with. Many of them are much more pleasant than current events, so it seems to be a natural place to go, Christmas' past for example.

With only a few family members remaining within visiting distance, our belated Christmas celebration yesterday was pleasant and simple. This was in stark contrast to years ago with 17 first cousins on one side of the family and 14 on the other, Christmas at the grandparents' homes was noisy, exciting and fun, at least for the children. There was not a dull moment with up to 17 children impatiently waiting for the tables to be cleared and dishes done so the gifts could be opened. Just before opening them though, grandpa would bring in a bucket of water and grandma would light the candles on the tree (no electricity). Then we had to sing carols. With our patience at an end, we finally got to pass out and open the gifts. Names were drawn among the children and the adults separately. In those days the men's gifts were mostly ties or cartons of cigarettes. Wrapping paper and bows were at least knee deep everywhere when the gift opening frenzy was over. Adults were busy helping the little ones, everyone was pleasantly tired and ready to go home to wait for Santa. It was a magical time. Then the next day we'd do it all over with the other side of the family with 14 children.

Coming back to the present, I've thought maybe I should find some greater purpose or excitement in my life, or not? Some folks talk about making a bucket list. I've given that some thought from time to time, and come up with things I'd like to do like take up gymnastics, back pack all over Europe, start a successful career in the art field (after obtaining a master's degree in fine arts of course), all total nonsense even though I feel thirtyish. How did I ever come to live in this 68 year old body? OK, revised bucket list: Stay alive until at least tomorrow, clean out the craft room, clean the basement, clean the garage, save money for a new front door... ho hum... Well, to pep it up a little bit I decided to blog all this. Now that's done, so I'm off to do the banking and errands. Retired life is really simple and good even if I am too young for my body! I have lovely memories. (And choosing to unremember the not so lovely ones is a gift!).

Have a very Happy and Safe New Year everyone! And be sure to make some lovely memories along the way!

Friday, December 2, 2011


Adverse circumstances and conflict in my life have taught me some very valuable lessons. Some are practical and make sense, and some are difficult to understand or explain because they are spiritual in nature. Probably the most important thing I've learned has been the power and value of forgiveness. Without it I was headed down a path of bitterness and self-destruction in early adulthood. I've written a brief explanation here. I could write much more, and probably will. I believe it's good to meditate and explore the positives of life, even if they started as negatives.

Forgiveness brings the greatest reward to the soul when:
1. It isn't requested.
2. It makes no sense at all.
3. It's humanly and emotionally impossible.
4. It's given just because.
5. It's a decision, not a feeling.

It brings:
1. Release.
2. New room in the soul for wonderful feelings.
3. Peace that really is like a river.
4. New order and control of emotions.
5. Joy and healing.

And it might even bring about reconciliation in time, but if not the rewards
are still immeasurable against the cost of holding on to the unforgiveness.

Forgetting the offense takes a little longer and will likely never be total. But the memories can only begin to fade into the background and lose importance with that first conscious decision to forgive.

I've been told and believe that forgiving also releases the offender to other
consequences of their behavior. We are not to be our own avengers or carry that load.

Bottom line, forgiveness opens the door for us to move on and grow as opposed to being stuck in a negative place. I've been forgiven for so much, so how can I fail to do the same. Then there is the item of self-forgiveness, but that's a topic for another day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It Is Well With My Soul

My mind has been wandering again. It hasn't gotten so far away (yet) that I couldn't find it. Whew! It usually indicates that I've neglected to take spiritual, emotional and mental time out recently. Some of the paths it's been wandering are sad, some humorous and some just don't make much sense, such as worry. And then there are those ugly critical thoughts of others that don't serve any purpose at all. That's a good time to do a blog, not to spew out negative emotions, but just to deal with them and turn them back to positive ones. Blogging is a chance to take out my thoughts, review, edit (really EDIT), discipline and organize them. Then I end up with something like a clean slate and a positive outlook - sort of.

Sad thoughts and feelings are circumscribed by really giving them the attention they need instead of stuffing them away in denial. A few tears never hurt anyone, and we can afford a few moments to mourn. It's that prolonged crying on the inside that errodes our souls. Whimsy and humor may seem callous in the midst of grieving, but they are really healing and who doesn't need that? Worries and judgemental attitudes are a terrible drain, a useless waste of mental energy and an affront to faith. My soul is calmed by remembering my rock, the anchor for my spirit and the One who is there to keep me where I need to be on all levels.

To sum it up, blogging (along with prayer and meditation) leads me to deal with the egocentric aspects of my thoughts and emotions, so I can put them in a drawer in a healthy way, at least for today. Then all is well with my soul and I'm free to focus outwardly on others and life as it is - until the next time I need to clean my inner house.

Rest in peace Uncle Ed. I know you will be rewarded for your loving kindness. You will be missed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sentiments and Gratitude

Here comes another winter, which is definitely not my favorite season as I get older. But before that it has been a beautiful fall. November, as someone pointed out today, is a month of gratitude. Contemplating on things I am grateful for has led to memories of past Novembers. It's always been a big birthday month. Growing up with 17 first cousins on one side of the family and 14 on the other, there were always birthday parties. There were 4 in November, mine being one. Now my son and a neice have November birthdays too. Along with those happy memories come some sad ones. Two very special people died in November, my grandmother and my brother.

I'm so grateful to have had my brother in my life both in his early years and then again in the 1990's when I lived near him in North Carolina. I had just finished serving 4 years in the USAF Medical Corp in November 1969 when he entered the Air Force, later to serve in Viet Nam. Mom always associates the song, "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" with his departure, and it brings back so many memories.

He returned safely and later married his beautiful wife Rita, settled in North Carolina and raised a son and daughter. His first baby granddaughter, Taylor, was just learning to walk when he passed away November 10, 2003 at the age of 53 due to diabetes and cancer from agent orange exposure in Viet Nam. Though the memories are both painful and bring tears, I'm grateful to have had those later years to get to know him better as an adult. And I'm so glad that he got to experience the joy of his first grandchild.

This is for you Steve ~

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yesterday's Wisdom for Today's World

I've always been amazed at the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson. Even though I haven't (and won't) turn this blog into a political outlet, I received the following email message that is just too good not to share here.

Thomas Jefferson was a very remarkable man who started learning very early in life and never stopped.

At 5, began studying under his cousin's tutor.
At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.
At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.
At 16, entered the College of William and Mary.
At 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe.
At 23, started his own law practice.
At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
At 31, wrote the widely circulated "Summary View of the Rights of British America ” and retired from his law practice.
At 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress..
At 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence ..
At 33, took three years to revise Virginia 's legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.
At 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia , succeeding Patrick Henry.
At 40, served in Congress for two years.
At 41, was the American minister to France , and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.
At 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.
At 53, served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.
At 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions, and became the active head of Republican Party.
At 57, was elected the third president of the United States .
At 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase , doubling the nation's size.
At 61, was elected to a second term as President.
At 65, retired to Monticello .
At 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.
At 81, almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia , and served as its first president.
At 83, died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, along with John Adams

Thomas Jefferson knew because he himself studied the previous failed attempts at government. He understood actual history, the nature of God, his laws and the nature of man. That happens to be way more than what most understand today. Jefferson really knew his stuff. A voice from the past to lead us in the future:

John F.. Kennedy held a dinner in the white House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: "This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

The following are all quotations attributed to Thomas Jefferson, and certainly seem to be relevant to today's conditions:

"When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe ."

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world."

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

"To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.

If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another Page in Life

Wow, two days in a row, but something different occurred this morning. I've been writing about the role reversal that comes with an aging parent, but it's like I entered a new level of that in my unwilling mind this morning, and I've spent the last hour crying. Mom called and asked (for about the fourth time) if we have to meet with someone at the nursing home today. And for at least the fourth time I explained that we met with them last week, also that we met with the auctioneer yesterday and I'm coming to get her for her foot doctor appointment today . Her response has been the same, "Oh, I'm mixed up." (Even though she has a calendar with all appointments on it.)

Something that is more disturbing were her comments yesterday that she "just doesn't feel well", and feels like when she goes to sleep she'll just stop breathing. It isn't unusual for her to have numerous health complaints, but this one along with her increasing confusion just triggered the deepest grief this morning. I feel as if we've turned a corner, and Mom isn't Mom anymore as I've always known her. Of course she's aging and changing, and I must adjust as we go along that path, but this was more like an almost overpowering jolt as we turned over a new page in the process. The bottom line is, I just don't want to let go of my real Mom! Please don't go! To be truly unselfish, I should be thinking about it from her perspective and feeling her pain, but I can't even go there.

Well, the tears are over, and I'm taking deep breaths. Just writing this helps me get a grip and lose the self pity. I seem to have become the custodian of not only her photo albums with memories of many years, but also of her short term memory. There are some days that I feel I need help with my own organizational skills, but in some ways having these new responsibilities is forcing me to sharpen my brain. If anything is good about this, maybe that's it. With Mom and my son it's time to keep the old brains cells at attention and thinking for three. Maybe eat more fish? Well, at least just smile and move on. Life is better when we're needed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shaking off the "Shoulds"

I just read an interview of Amy Finley by Jennifer Merritt on iVillage. Amy Finley was the winner of "The Next Food Network Star" in 2007 on the Food Network, and was set up for her own show. Citing a "family crisis" she left her show. In summary, the interview focuses on her reasons for leaving this life changing opportunity, and what she is doing now.

The one statement that grabbed my attention was her reason for auditioning for the competition at the beginning. She states, "I was feeling lost in the period of stay-at-home parenthood, when you’re in a panic about who you are." The whole interview is interesting and I admire her for her values and priorities, but really identify with that lost and panicky feeling she had.

The lost panicky feeling has cropped up for me, not due to being a stay-at-home mom, but in the responsibilities of helping an aging parent and a handicapped son. I've sort of buried myself in my computer and housework since I retired about 6 years ago, partly because my self-image was so glued to my occupation. I was just beginning to come out of this land of "who am I really?", when Mom started having more needs for help. Like Amy Finley, my family is more important to me than anything, but I am finding it necessary to find and keep my own identity alive apart from being a caretaker. It's a process, and I am determined to consciously make time to do "my own thing" each day rather than let the hours get swallowed up in caretaking, housework or mindless computer time. I sure don't have a handle on that ideal yet, but I really want to get some creative projects back into my life. I have taken up crocheting again and I want to resume painting and writing - just for me. It's just another one of those things that we have to figure out as we go, but not get sidetracked by the "shoulds". You know - the "I should be doing this (or that)" thing. Then there are the "have to" things, but that's another level to deal with.

Well, that's enough for today's introspection. I should be vacumning the floors, doing laundry and have to meet with the auctioneer this afternoon about Mom's estate auction.

Friday, August 19, 2011

One of Those Days

Yesterday was one, but today is new and sunny! That's not saying all the circumstances are now in order and there's no sadness, but a new perspective has rolled away some clouds. There's not much to say about negative emotions except that they are not welcome, but sometimes enevitable. Sometimes circumstances trigger them and sometimes they just seem to rise up like fog for no apparent reason. Thankfully as I've aged this involuntary moodiness has all but vanished. I don't know if that's one of the perks of maturity or the death of the hormone roller coaster of youth and mid-life. Perhaps it's both. However, I found myself in the land of woe yesterday having a real honest to goodness pity party. I hadn't been there in a long time and forgot how much I dislike it. The good part is that I didn't even give a thought to my old coping tool, the cigarettes. I turned instead to Facebook.

The morning started with the failure of my son's bus to pick him up for work. I called and they did come an hour and a half late. In the meantime I received a call telling me an aunt had died unexpectedly following surgery. Then I had to relay the sad news to Mom, who is in the nursing home and coping with the sale of her house and upcoming household auction. I also had to notify my sister who just this week had to spend a night in the hospital with chest pain due to a stress related heart condition. After all this I entered this needy place wanting someone to say, "So sorry, I'm here for you and it will be alright." The mood wasn't totally attributable to the events, but more due to my disfunctional reaction to them.

I went on facebook and posted a couple of items, one about mothers and another U-tube funny. Got no responses to either and that triggered more disgusting self-pity. Then I posted a real self-pity note on impulse. Hanging my petty attitude out in public there without explaining is really stupid! I would have deleted it but got a couple of responses right away and didn't want to add rudeness to my indiscretion. I do apologize to all my friends for my whining. I'm alone about 90% of the time, so I do like having some connection to people, even if only in cyber-space, but it isn't exactly the best place to go when in that self-pity mode. My real help should come through my spiritual source of strength, but sometimes I have to learn that over again the hard way. He does often use friends to lift us up if we ask and then seek support in the right ways.

Before I get deeper into my rambling, the point is, I am so glad to have a much more stable emotional grip on life than I did in my younger years. And I'm grateful for God and friends who don't judge me when I do get under a cloud. God is my consistent source of comfort when I have the sense to turn to Him. Aging is not a negative thing, but a growing evolutionary new level of living. I am enjoying it even with a few bumps in the road and the loss of some physical abilities. Discovery of new perks with maturity is great, and I just have to keep looking for them on the flip side of those bumps.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Resolution

Note to self: The best people with whom to discuss politics are those with views identical to mine. But then what's the point? It may be better to just avoid the subject altogether. It's too stressful, and I've heard stress can contribute to weight gain. Hey, that's it! That's why I'm too short for my weight! Conclusion: Too much politics causes overweight!

I'm way too opinionated to discuss these things rationally anyway. My friends who have opposing views seem just as opinionated, so I wouldn't want to cause them stress and weight gain either.

I'm so glad I solved that problem. Now I'll have to find something less stressful to obsess about get interested in. Let's see, I quit Farmville and Mafia Wars. Could get cracking on some major housework. Naaa that's not going to happen. I'm already a black belt in procrastinating on (at, with...?) that one.

Well, at least I came up with a new resolution that will help uncomplicate my life. Avoid all political discussions. So no one send me any more of those provacative political emails even if it's something you think I can't live without knowing! And if someone sees me responding to a political post on Facebook, message me to stop it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Death of Common Sense

An oldie, but I found the original, and she illustrates our so called "progressive" society so much better than I could.

The Death of Common Sense
Lori Borgman | Sunday, March 15, 1998

"Three yards of black fabric enshroud my computer terminal. I am mourning the passing of an old friend by the name of Common Sense. His obituary reads as follows: Common Sense, aka C.S., lived a long life, but died from heart failure at the brink of the millennium. No one really knows how old he was, his birth records were long ago entangled in miles and miles of bureaucratic red tape. Known affectionately to close friends as Horse Sense and Sound Thinking, he selflessly devoted himself to a life of service in homes, schools, hospitals and offices, helping folks get jobs done without a lot of fanfare, whooping and hollering.

Rules and regulations and petty, frivolous lawsuits held no power over C.S. A most reliable sage, he was credited with cultivating the ability to know when to come in out of the rain, the discovery that the early bird gets the worm and how to take the bitter with the sweet.

C.S. also developed sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn), reliable parenting strategies (the adult is in charge, not the kid) and prudent dietary plans (offset eggs and bacon with a little fiber and orange juice).

A veteran of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, the Technological Revolution and the Smoking Crusades, C.S. survived sundry cultural and educational trends including disco, the men's movement, body piercing, whole language and new math. C.S.'s health began declining in the late 1960s when he became infected with the If-It-Feels-Good, Do-It virus.

In the following decades, his waning strength proved no match for the ravages of overbearing federal and state rules and regulations and an oppressive tax code. C.S. was sapped of strength and the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, criminals received better treatment than victims and judges stuck their noses in everything from Boy Scouts to professional baseball and golf.

His deterioration accelerated as schools implemented zero-tolerance policies. Reports of 6-year-old boys charged with sexual harassment for kissing classmates, a teen suspended for taking a swig of Scope mouthwash after lunch, girls suspended for possessing Midol and an honor student expelled for having a table knife in her school lunch were more than his heart could endure.

As the end neared, doctors say C.S. drifted in and out of logic but was kept informed of developments regarding regulations on low-flow toilets and mandatory air bags. Finally, upon hearing about a government plan to ban inhalers from 14 million asthmatics due to a trace of a pollutant that may be harmful to the environment, C.S. breathed his last.

Services will be at Whispering Pines Cemetery. C.S. was preceded in death by his wife, Discretion; one daughter, Responsibility; and one son, Reason. He is survived by two step-brothers, Half-Wit and Dim-Wit.

Memorial Contributions may be sent to the Institute for Rational Thought. Farewell, Common Sense. May you rest in peace."

Copyright © 1999-2011 Lori Borgman

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mom's Memory Lane

These last few weeks and months have been another turning point or bump in the road. Mom has been living in a care center since a serious fall last November. She has gradually decided to stay there permanently. She moved from a double to a private room and we've slowly been moving some of her possessions in. Working out storage solutions for them in the small room has been a challenge.

Now her house has been sold, so all sorting and decisions have to be somewhat final. 88 years of memories are involved, not just material things. I'm finding that she was like me in saving memorabilia. Going through all her elementary, high school and teaching records, cards, photos, recipes, etc. has been time consuming, and there is still much more to do. But it's also something else that's difficult to describe. Fun isn't the right word, but it is a pleasant, sometimes misty eyed journey back in time before and after I was part of her life. She saved so many things that jog memories which would have otherwise been lost in the scramble of today's hectic living. Mom has already lost many of the memories too, and I'm happy that some come back as we sift through her treasures.

So ends my own de-cluttering project for now. I'm actually accumulating more stuff. *Sigh* But it will all work out. Someday someone may have to travel down my memory lane when I can no longer keep the material mementos of what was once so important to me.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Human Statue of Liberty

Just received this from an online friend in Canada! Thanks Stella!

(Larger image: )
It is 18,000 men in a training camp at Camp Dodge, in Iowa in 1918.
Base to Shoulder: 150 feet
Right Arm: 340 feet
Widest part of arm holding torch: 12 1/2 feet
Right thumb: 35 feet
Thickest part of body: 29 feet
Left hand length: 30 feet
Face: 60 feet
Nose: 21 feet
Longest spike of head piece: 70 feet
Torch and flame combined: 980 feet
Number of men in flame of torch: 12,000
Number of men in torch: 2,800
Number of men in right arm: 1,200
Number of men in body, head and balance of figure only: 2,000
Total men: 18,000

Amazing! There are others by the same photographers too.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Greetings on Independence Day

It's a good day to reflect on what a privilege and responsibility we have to live in this great country. As in all things there needs to be a balance. We not only need to appreciate our freedom, but we all need to be reminded of our responsibilities as individual citizens. Lately I've become more aware of my own intensifying frustration, often turning into rage, at our government, politicians and world affairs. Now more than ever, I have to remind myself that I cannot change these things. I can only pray and be an informed voter. And I must be a responsible citizen. The Serenity Prayer comes to mind:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I've heard a lot of folks say they just avoid reading or listening to the news most of the time due to all the negative reporting and disturbing events. I really prefer to stay informed, so I'm working more and more on blocking the rage. I'm left with a sour pessimistic attitude sometimes, but then that little prayer helps.

No matter if one is liberal, conservative or vegetable this statement makes good sense:
"Honesty, honor, godliness, industry, respect for the law, morality, and truthfulness are the wheels on which our entire republic rides. If the American people are no damn good, then no matter how well the Constitution is written, how well we're governed, or how much good fortune comes our way, we are doomed as a nation."
by John Hawkins
"7 Responsibilities You Have As An American"
Townhall Magazine 6/7/2011

That is good advice, but a bit of a "glass half empty" ending, so I'd prefer to hope that the majority of Americans are "good" people, appreciate and abide by the constitution and our laws, elect wise leaders and act responsibly as productive citizens so that we will prosper and enjoy good fortune.

Have a fun safe holiday everyone!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Retirement Plan B

1998 Picture it. Nurse looks forward to retirement and makes plans.
Plan A: Develop an eBay business after retirement to sell collectibles, crafts and other items.
Step 1 - Save all packing materials and boxes.
Step 2 - Buy any items that look good for resale at a profit later.
Step 3 - Stock up on all craft and needlework supplies to use after retiring.
Step 4 - Store said items wherever space is available.
Step 5 - Launch said business upon retirement from nursing.
~fast forward to 2011~ (well not too fast)
Plan B: Scrap plan A since it has been 5 1/2 years since retirement and there is no inclination whatsoever to do business on eBay or do crafts and needlework on that scale.
Step 1 - Spend the next week clearing moldy packing materials out of basement. (wear mask)
Step 2 - Haul said packing materials to dump.
Step 3 - Re-cycle cleaner cardboard boxes.
Step 4 - Spend the next year clearing collectibles and stuff saved out of storage.
Step 5 - Dispose of said collectibles and junk any way possible. (3rd pickup load about ready for donation. ? to go)

It's good to have goals and plans.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Reading Again

Somewhere back about 1979 when I became a foster mother I found it necessary to give up reading, crafts and crocheting. It was about being a single mother and working full time. I went on to adopt and wouldn't change a thing about that. I did resume crocheting and other hobbies, but never did get back to reading books. I had this problem of falling asleep or just spacing out and had to re-read about every page. I did continue reading short stories such as Reader's Digest and Guidepost articles in the "reading room".

In January 2009 we traveled with my sister and brother-in-law to Hawaii and during the long flights and rest times I resumed reading books! I still had problems staying awake and concentrating until I got an iPad about a year ago. I'm not quite sure what it is, but I am able to read "normally" again. I think it might be that I can enlarge the font and it has the lighted page. Guess I have to admit my ageing eyesight was part of the problem lately, since I can't use the "worn out single young mother" excuse anymore.

I just answered a question on Facebook about my favorite book, and it's "Dog On It" by Spencer Quinn. It's fairly light reading, very funny and entertaining. It was the first book I've really enjoyed in years. Next to that would be "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. This one tested my new resolve to read, with it's length, many many characters, twists and turns and years in the plot. But hey, I haven't been reading again long enough to really chose a smashing good favorite book. Years ago when I was an addictive reader my favorites included all of the books by Jane Austin, Thomas Hardy, Tolstoy and other classics.

Today is Mom's beauty shop day, so I usually take my reading along, nothing too deep with all the distractions there. I just chose one on my iPad that I haven't read: "How Not to Act Old" by Pamela Redmond Satran. One passage in the introduction reads: "You thought you'd be cool forever. And then, seemingly overnight, the evil young changed all the rules and you're left feeling... well, definitely something other than awesome." Now that's something I can definitely identify with. Should be good.

TGIF! Have a good one and a great weekend too.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memory Lane

Ever get lost on memory lane for a whole day? Rummaging through photos here has me shutting the door on the "shoulds" again. I "should" be continuing my de-cluttering project, but I'm not. So there! hehe

My 50 year high school class reunion will be next summer, so I began by looking through old photos and found some laughable ones.
Freshman initiation was a sort of rite of passage back in 1958. This was before the paranoia about "bullying" and "hazing" set in. Or maybe there just wasn't the mean spirited behavior back then. Anyway, we girls in the class of '62 had to wear a man's slicker, 5 buckle overshoes (or maybe it was plow shoes) on the wrong feet, pincurls on one side of the head, a tall dunce cap and a green spot in the middle of our forehead, and carry an umbrella. We were given a verse to recite and had to carry a rug to kneel and pay homage to the lofty seniors who demanded it. This lasted a week and the last evening parents and everyone gathered in the gym for an initiation ceremony. There each freshman was given some funny or demeaning task to perform. I had to put a boy's hair up in pincurls. 1958 was the height of the long greasy ducktailed hair. YUCK!

I guess in today's lingo this is me and my BFF's in ye olde DIY photo booth.

This isn't a sign of senility is it?

I mean it's not like I'm living in the past...

(to be continued - I have miles to go here)

Wandering off to find some lunch... hmmm

Friday, May 20, 2011

Well, anyway.

So much for de-cluttering.  Well, I did some today, but not at my house.  Fridays are Mom's beauty shop days and since she moved to the nursing home, I go and take her there.  Then after her appointment she usually has a list of  "stuff" she wants to get from her house.  She still has a fully furnished house with at least as many possessions as I have.  (Don't tell her I said so, but just as much clutter too.)  Well, anyway I have half my pickup loaded with my clutter ready for charity, but now the other half got filled up with some of hers.  The good news is that it's canned goods and food that would otherwise go to waste.  So it won't clutter up her pantry now, and it won't be in mine forever.  There is at least another pickup load that I'll need to go back and box up to take to the local food pantry.  Hmmm, feels like I'm ending up de-cluttering two houses.  Might just take me the rest of my life, or at least the functional years I have left.

So for a little R & R this afternoon, I browsed for some music.  I was blown away by these teens from Italy last night on Idol!  Isn't music nice on a cloudy rainy day.  Just lifts me out of the doldrums (and the clutter).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Back Again

Wow, been a while since I came here.  Seems like our vacation in Branson sort of threw me off my usual routines.  That can be a good thing now and then, but I really want to pick up some of the better habits I left behind.  One of them was blogging.  I still resist making binding commitments  to anything that's not absolutely necessary though.  It just seems like our lives (or at least mine) are too full of the "shoulds", like "I should do this" or "I should do that".  I made up my mind when I retired that I'd chuck the shoulds.  (Spell check doesn't seem to like that word either.)

Well, anyway, I don't have much else to say.  Just need to get on with the day and more de-cluttering my house. I have this sense of urgency about getting rid of all this excess rummage sale, thrift shop, drag me down fodder that I've stuffed in every nook and cranny of this large house.  

In the meantime, let's have another cuppa coffee, and maybe a little music to go with it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

High Flight

Lt. Edward Rody Ryan
September 21, 1921 ~ April 5, 1944
My Dad

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth. 
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; 
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth. 
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things 
You have not dreamed of 
- wheeled and soared and swung. 
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, 
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air ....

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue. 
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace. 
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew — 
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod. 
The high untrespassed sanctity of space, 
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God. 

by John Gillespie Maggee, Jr.
American Volunteer RCAF
KIA, December 11, 1941

Soldier, rest!  Thy warfare o'er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Dream of battled fields no more,
Days of danger, nights of waking.
~Sir Walter Scott~
"When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun."

What hopeful words!  The day will come when time will no longer exist, and I will finally meet my Savior and my Heavenly Father.  But I also look forward to meeting this father for the first time!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lightening the Load

Let's see, do I have anything of any value to say today?  Quite honestly, no but that has never stopped me before.  I did read something very enlightening this morning.  An article said fat cells shrink with aging!  So chalk another benefit up to senior hood!  (Let's just ignore the other statement that muscle cells shrink too.  And I'm not even going to look into what happens to brain cells.)

I am making some headway on clearing the clutter.  Got the sandbags out of my pickup yesterday and hauled a large bag of unwanted clothing to a donation bin.  Plans for this weekend include taking an old mattress to the landfill and more unwanted items to a charity thrift shop.  Clutter and "stuff" can be such a burden.  Springtime is just such a good time to lighten the load!  

Next week we will be leaving for my sister's house and then travelling with them to Branson, MO for a week.  So after some more de-cluttering comes packing for the trip.  I'm famous for over packing, but I'm going to try hard to avoid that this time.  (Seems like I've said that before?)  The older I get, the less I want to carry though, so that helps.

Well, time to get on with the day.  Can't just sit here waiting for my fat cells to shrink.  You don't suppose that's just and April Fool's joke do you?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What I Did Yesterday?

Well, I did get busy yesterday.  I began by looking for some hat box kits that I bought years ago and stored in the eaves upstairs.  They, along with at least 2 truckloads of other "stuff", have been there since I moved here in 1997.  If I could only double my money on all of my "investments" in collectibles I might even have to pay income tax!

Of course I couldn't find them right away.  I ended up spending several hours up there before I did locate them.  Whatever I did was really hard work, and the rest of the day was the same.  Ever had one of those days?  At the end of it, I really couldn't say what I did but I was really busy!  Guess I'll go back up there today and continue.  Those 2 truckloads of "stuff" haven't seen the light of day for 14 years and really need to go somewhere else.

I was planning to get the sandbags out of the bed of my pickup now that it's spring, so that I could haul this "stuff" away somewhere, but now I see the ground is white with snow again this a.m.  Always somethin' ain't it!?  Aw well, maybe I'll go up to the storage hole anyway.  I can at least do some bagging and sorting.  You know, that thing you do and can't really say what it was you did at the end of the day.  That reminds me, I have to add "find hat box kits" to my to do list so I can check it off.  Turns out they're too small for what I wanted, but I should get credit for finding them!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Blank Days

Ever feel "blank"?  The past two weeks have been like that here.  Life has been just a series of everyday activities with a bit extra thrown in.  Had visitors from out of town and helped Mom move more belongings to the nursing home.  So first there wasn't a good time to blab in my blog, then the "blankness" descended.

In spite of the ordinariness of this time, I am still very much reminded about change, not always as positive as I'd like.  Old pains are becoming worse and a new med was prescribed.  Cost would have been $185 per month, so I decided against it.  Chose to resume an older prescription (also for the same thing), but stopped that due to side effects.  So now I'm looking for more non-chemical means.

Part of that will be mental, so I'm back to looking for things to really appreciate in life each day.  One thing I've discovered about retirement is that it's just too easy to lose a grip on a sense of purpose.  I didn't want to get up this a.m. although I was awake long before my body or mind wanted to get out of bed.  My dog's whimpers got me up, then I had to make myself do the morning routines.

So here I am ready to fill my "blank" day.  I have so many "should do's" that it's paralyzing to think about them.  I need to pick one, and get back on track.  Structure and motivation - I need you!  Or a kick in the pants would do.  Or I could just sit here and ramble on all day....  Naw, gotta get moving.  The sun is shining and it's not snowing.  Too cold to plant and can't dance, so I'll find something else.  I'll let you know how it works out.  ..."yawn"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Goodbye Winter!

I've been infected with a severe bout of spring fever, but never fear, I hear it's not lethal.  Might be contagious though, so watch out!  One of the symptoms is looking at dirty windows and thinking there's no use washing them.  It might rain and they'd get all spotted again.  And of course it would make no sense to wash the blinds and curtains with spotty windows.  Hopefully recovery will come soon.  I sure wouldn't want to be washing windows when it gets to be 90 degrees!  Another symptom is this overpowering urge to go dig in the dirt and plant something, even though it's still way frosty in the early mornings.  My daffodils are shooting up though, and the robins are busy, so at least something is moving here!

In the mean time, I'm loving the sunshine and fresh air.  Even rainy days are a welcome change from snow and ice.  Still watching the eagles and thanks Tom, for the link to another site.  This one is at Norfolk, VA Botanical Gardens.  The pair of eagles have 3 young eaglets, the latest hatched Thursday the 17th.  No, it wasn't green!  :O)  The main video is live, but there are links to recorded clips of special activities on the page.  It is really fun to see the little bobble heads when Mom and Dad exchange places on the nest or stand to feed them.
Here's the link to this other site:

Well, here goes.  I'm going to try to accomplish some actual housework.  Doing it in my head is becoming a bit tiresome!  But then again, there's always tomorrow when it will officially be spring!

"It's spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"  ~Mark Twain

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Eagle Watch

Guess I have some "peeping tom" tendencies, but so do thousands of others!  Last year I kept tabs on a pair of nesting eagles on the northwest coast.  Sadly only one of two eggs hatched and even more sadly the eaglet reached about one day from fledging and was overcome by a virulent  respiratory infection.  I watched him take his last breath.  Then watched as a specialist retrieved his body from the nest.

Well, regardless of that sad experience, I am delighted with the clear view we have of a nesting pair near Decorah, Iowa this year.  There are 3 eggs in the nest with Mom and Pop taking turns keeping them safe and warm.  The first is due to hatch about March 31 to April 2, then the others at about 2 day intervals.  I love watching them a bit each day, and there's even and infrared camera at night.  Just thought I ought to share it here.

Happy eagle watching!

Video chat rooms at Ustream

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Journey

Well maybe not new, but further than I've ever gone before.  Today marks my two year anniversary of not smoking!  I quit with the aid of Chantix and, two of the most powerful resources around in my opinion.  I still visit quitnet and have many friends and acquaintances there.  The support is amazing.  On significant milestones and anniversaries there is a lot of celebrating together and encouragement to continue.  Smoking is a powerful addiction and I will have to stay vigilant against a relapse the rest of my life.  On major anniversaries on quitnet we are encouraged to write a "ramble".  Of course with my gabby nature I did just that today, and will include parts of it here.

"I've had surprising rash of smoking "thoughts" the past couple of weeks.  They're not compelling at all, but this still occurs now and then even after 2 years smoke free.  It's nothing intense though, just a bit annoying and easy to brush off.  Big anniversaries and milestones seem to trigger some introspection.  Then I just duck and cover, running back to the Q!  Works every time to get the right angle on my thinking.

I've been marching through unfamiliar territory the last 6 months, never having been quit this long before.  Can't expect a 47 year, 2-3 ppd habit to just go poof.  I'm amazed that it has even been possible to quit having failed so many times before.  The quitnet tradition includes various cyber rewards for anniversaries and milestones.  The Golden Boot award is for 2 years smoke free, and with it I intend to keep on kickin' ash as they say!" 

So that's the "big" thing in my life at the present time.  I love being smoke free for so many reasons.  I can't begin to tell you how many years and how hard I struggled to quit!  Whew!  Never over, but always getting better at it. If I were able, I'd love to kick up my heels and dance a jig to celebrate! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring Cleaning Time

How did my house get so dirty?  Was it just the burst of sunlight with all the blinds open today that revealed what was there all along?  Or did we have a dust storm that I wasn't aware of?  I have a satellite TV person coming to upgrade to HD today, so I got behind the TV.  Arrrrgh!  Could plant a garden there!  Makes me really not want to move any other furniture.  Then there are the blinds, the windows, the curtains.... Well spring is here and having been so rudely awakened to this dirty secret, I must dust!  On the other hand...

Dust if You Must
~author unknown~

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?
Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.
Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.
Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it's not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.
Remember, a house becomes a home when you can write
"I love you" on the furniture.....

...I like that person!
Happy Tuesday!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mom's Day

Friday's have turned into my Mom's day.  She moved into a nursing home for the winter and needs transportation to the hairdresser on Fridays.  I suppose the nursing home would provide it or she could have the beautician who comes to the home do it.  But she also has other needs.  She usually has a list of "stuff" she needs from her house, so we spend time there.  She still has a vehicle there in the garage that needs to be run now and then.  (Already dealt with a dead battery once.)  

She now says she plans to stay in the nursing home, but can't quite come to a decision to dispose of the house, car and other possessions.  Watching her go through these difficult decisions and changes is partly responsible for my own musings on aging these days.  There are a lot of conflicting emotions involved in this role reversal too.  At first I struggled with anger and impatience at her decreasing functional and mental abilities.  Where did that come from?  I think it was just that I didn't want those things to be happening.  I still have an occasional flash of irritation when she can't recall something, resists my suggestions or complains about her health.  But I've learned to stifle it most of the time, and it's not about her personally.  It's about me and my need to adapt to the changes!  She's actually doing great at letting go of her independence.  I should do so well when it's my turn!

So today is our day, and I know she's stressing over her income taxes and bills.  She's finally agreed to set up automatic payments on her regular bills like the utilities for the house.  (I think she's missed some payments.)  I tried to get her to do that some time ago, so I now have to stifle my "I told you so" attitude.

Bottom line:  Who is going to put up with me and help me when I get there... and I'm next.  Yikes!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Since I titled this bit of whimsy "Senior Secrets", I suppose it's only right to let you in on some.  We who grew up on farms way back years ago were instilled with really, really, really rigid work ethics.  We not only had to work hard, we absolutely never stayed in bed past 6 or 7 a.m. unless we were sick.  So here's the secret... I usually get up at 6 a.m. to see that my son gets off to work, but then shhhh..... I sometimes go back to bed!  Being retired can be fun!

I like the poem that inspired the Red Hat Society:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple 
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me. 
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves 
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter. 
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired 
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells 
And run my stick along the public railings 
And make up for the sobriety of my youth. 
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain 
And pick flowers in other people's gardens 
And learn to spit. 

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat 
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go 
Or only bread and pickle for a week 
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes. 

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry 
And pay our rent and not swear in the street 
And set a good example for the children. 
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers. 

But maybe I ought to practice a little now? 
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised 
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Do I like change or not?  Well, if it's something good, sure I like it.  Mostly I'd rather be in control and only change things when it suits me.  But....  well you know and I know that "being in control" thing eludes us at times.  It seems to be a lot more elusive the older I get.  Mostly that applies to physical changes, but also to habits.

Lately I've been wondering when I changed from an avid reader to one who nods off in the first minutes of opening a book or a magazine.  I think I pinned it down to the time I got my son as a foster child at age 2 months.  Working full time and caring for him, the house and the yard required change.  (There's that word again.)  Out went the hobbies and the reading.  Well, that was in 1979.

Now I've decided I really want to read again.  Got some books from my sister and finally did manage to get a few read.  Then I got an iPad.  Took several months to really get going with it, but now I love it.  It has the lighted page and I can adjust the font size and really zip right along.  

So am I back in control and changing that in my life?  I got so absorbed in a spy thriller that I read until 4 a.m. yesterday morning!  I only quit because I finished the book and my vision was totally blurred!  Had to have a nap yesterday afternoon, and it will likely take several weeks for me to be able to sleep at night again.  But it was like old times!  I used to do that once in a while and still work all day.  Yep, feels good and I plan to keep that change!

This is the day the Lord has made!  Rejoice and be glad in it!  (... even if you didn't sleep well)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 2 Now What?

As I said I retired 5 years ago.  It has finally occurred to me that I no longer have goals or a focus for my life.  Slow learner I guess!  So that's what all this self examination is about... mostly.

Lately I've noticed that most young people, under 60... (oh gad under 60 is young!)... have goals and a focus in their lives.  So then I think back, and realize I once had those too.  One of my main goals "back then" was to have my mortgage paid off by the time I retired.  Almost made it... got 'er done 3 years ago.  The most recent major goal was to stop smoking.  Of course that is an ongoing effort reaching 2 years next month.

So, now what?  The phrase "aging gracefully" comes to mind.  What the *_____* does that mean?  I, personally, would never put aging and gracefully in the same thought, let alone in the same sentence!  Who DID that?  When I think "aging", I think gray hair, middle age spread, arthritis, vision problems, hearing loss.....  Ah, maybe I've just found the problem!  Those are all negative perceptions.  Still... "gracefully"?  Don't think so.  Vigorously maybe (but not me).  Even cheerfully or willingly are a bit more than I can handle right now.  Realistically is more like it.  I'll have to go google some of this and come back to it later.  (I'm big on googling.  Shouldn't there be some reward for frequent googling?)

Meanwhile, my best thought for the day is the serenity prayer:
Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference. (or to google it) 

Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


First, I was longing to finish high school and start college.  
Then I was longing for a good career.
Then I was longing to marry and have children.
And then I was longing for my son to grow older...
Then I was longing for a paid up mortgage.
Then I was longing to retire.
So now it occurs to me 
that I may not have fully appreciated the journey 
while I was longing for all these things.

I'm a 67 year old (really!?) female, not fully in touch with how I got this old.  I retired at 62, and it has taken me this long to regain my balance.  More on that later.

When the subject of age 67 comes up:
Anyone under 49 says nothing and gives a look that says, "I can't comprehend that.  You are a whole different life form."
Folks 50 to 60 would say, "Oh that's not that old!"  because they don't want to think old yet.  Denial is still fully in charge.
70 and over say, "Oh you're still young", because they'd rather think of it as their younger years.  They are entering the era of taking pride in the number of years, gray hairs and ailments, and want to put down any competition.  
Only those in their 60's would nod knowingly when I admit my age. "Ah, yes."  

And if anyone says, "You're as old as you feel", they will receive one of my "drop dead" looks since there are too many days that I feel 67 going on 100, and have to work hard to think positive!

I really want to think that the 60's are an awkward transitional phase (sort of like the teen's) and that the next decade will bring something a bit less unsettling.  If it isn't, don't tell me, just let me hang on to that illusion.

I read somewhere that all adults (over 40) still "feel" 30'ish mentally.  In some ways that may be very true.  I still can't accept the fact that I can no longer move a sofa bed down a flight of stairs without help... or even with help.  *sigh*  And it was just forced upon my consciousness the other day, that I will never lose these extra 60 pounds mostly around my belly.  This is largely because I can no longer walk over half a block without huffing and puffing.

Well, enough of the negative!  What do I like about my advancing years?  
I like the fact that no one seems to expect me to move sofa beds down stairs or walk like an athlete in training.  
I can get by with some of the extra weight since I'm a "different life form" anyway to those under 49, and those older are beginning to deal with their own weighty issues.
I like the lack of schedules and deadlines.  My life used to consist of work with a few short breaks.  Now it is more like one long break with a few spurts of work.
I like having the time and immodesty to sit down and write this!  And I don't even have to write something every single day!  

More whenever....