The last sun is setting on our beautiful five days together in the Pacific Northwest. I've posted a lot of the tastes and sights of this Girlfriend Getaway...but for goodness sake don't miss Lyric's wrapup of the spiritual tastes and insights from the week. I cried...I don't have her gift for sharing this kind of meaning, but then that's why she's my best friend. I need her.
Our day yesterday began with another ferry ride, this time to the San Juan Islands. The trip was spectacular, with scenery that made us stand in the cold wind and snap way too many pictures. The pictures don't do justice to the magnificence of the view as we wandered in and out among the hundreds of islands, some completely uninhabited and some dotted with vacation homes, fishing villages, and resorts...
We were certainly thankful for coats and scarves!
We disembarked at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and were greeted with a view of this quaint town, full of artsy shops, seafood cafes, coffee bars, and bookstores with lots of local flavor.
We arrived just in time to scout for a place to eat lunch, and chose a little diner that promised the best crab cakes in town. From our window we had a nice view of the harbor.
And sure enough, crab cakes to die for and a wonderful hot New England clam chowder that I'd gladly have brought all the way back to Texas if I could have thought of a way!
After some shopping, some reading in the book shop and a nice hot chocolate al fresco, we made our way back to Bellingham for another shrimp dinner before once again being mesmerized by the night view from our picture window.
Today's been a quiet day in our room, working on taxes, some business tasks, emailing, uploading pictures, and watching a movie. We'll order in dinner from room service and then finish readying for the trip home.
These days have been all we'd hoped for and more...blessed by unusually good weather for this time of year in northern Washington. We haven't had a drop of rain, and there's been plenty of sunshine along with some characteristically cloudy skies. We will fly away tomorrow feeling that we've had the best combination of scenery, accommodations, companionship, food, and tranquility. God has indeed been good.
Clean your refrigerator instead.
Yesterday we drove north from Bellingham to Vancouver, then boarded a BC Ferry to Victoria, which, unlike Vancouver, is on Vancouver Island, which I am quite sure was invented to confuse those of us from south of the border. Here we are on the ferry...and if you look closely in the middle mirror you'll see our reflection. We enjoyed the view, the cold air, and a lovely lunch
while on board...
Once in Victoria we drove off the ferry and out to Butchart Gardens, where we marveled at the brilliant colors and the meticulously groomed grounds. Even early in spring the Gardens were
On the late evening ferry ride back to Vancouver we paid close attention to the lovely homes dotted along the islands we passed and dreamed of what it would be like to live there...
But we're content with a nice visit and watching the sunsets from our picture window with the deep, ten-foot long window seat...
Yesterday Lyric and I flew into Seattle, rented a lovely Cadillac, and drove the 90 miles north to Bellingham, Washington. The scenery on the drive was gorgeous...and our bed and breakfast on the water is just exquisite. We have a gas fireplace in our room...a bathroom that's like its own spa...a full picture window view of the water and the San Juan Islands...and we got to see a beautiful sunset from our room from the HUGE window seat.
This morning we will enjoy the breakfast buffet and then we're heading for Canada--Vancouver and Victoria, BC. I have my camera, but sadly left the cable behind so I won't be able to upload any pictures until we either find a cable to buy or get home to the old one. But I'm sure we'll have lots of fun photos to share sooner or later....check back!
We were both struck once again last night by the generosity of a God who doesn't just meet our needs, but gives us such beauty...beauty that we could do without, that isn't necessary to life but that nourishes our souls and shows us His heart and His character.
Thank You, Father, for allowing us these days...
Bifocals. I got them in my fiftieth year after resisting them for a full year. Now, a year later, I'm still not used to them. They irritate me as often as they delight me. There are times when I love having the specialized lenses that make both reading and driving easier (and safer!); but because I don't wear them all the time like I should, the shifting back and forth between the top and bottom half is still a moderate annoyance. I find myself looking out at the road through the wrong half if they're not perched just right, and it looks like I'm driving in the ocean. Then I try to read something on my computer through the top half and I wonder where the print went. No, I haven't yet gotten the glasses with THREE lenses, and neither of the ones I have work for the mid-distance of the laptop screen. And I haven't had the patience to work it all out and make sure I'm always looking through the right lens.
Ah. . .it sounds a lot like my life.
I need bifocals. Not just for my deteriorating retinas, but for my life.
In my public speaking I've done a lot of talking about looking at our children, our lives, through "long distance glasses," teaching young moms to make sure they're focusing on the long look at the big picture when their days seemed to be filled with small things. Many days I still need to be reminded of this. I'm looking through the reading half of my life lenses, and all I see are the small things. Dishes. Doctor appointments. Grammar lessons. Scissor tracks in my tablecloth. Birthday cards. It's very necessary for me to look through the lens that allows me to see these things clearly, because they're important. I want to take the attention with the small things that will form memories for my children and for me, the things that end up making up the big picture. But when I'm too focused on the small things, I look up for the big picture and it's a blur. It's an ocean in front of me and I've lost the ability to see it clearly. My attitudes get petty and my efforts become scattered. Life is incoherent.
On the other hand, there are days (and months, if I'm honest) that I'm so enamored of the big picture that the little things, the close-in view, gets neglected. I'm looking toward and planning for the future, imagining what things could be like in ten years and what I want to be building for eternity. . .I'm definitely wearing my long-distance lenses. And I look down at today's lessons or a pile of towels or the thawing hamburger and they're a blur. An annoyance. I've lost sight of how important they all are to the completion of the big picture.
So I need bifocals. Not just for my deteriorating retinas, but for my life. I need to work with both lenses, and maybe several sets of in-between lenses, to be able to keep all the parts of my responsibilities and joys in focus. And I need to submit them to the Great Physician/Ophthalmologist for regular checkups and regrinding in some cases. There are times when I think my vision through a certain set of lenses is 20/20 but He thinks differently. Just as when I've let myself go too long between eye checkups, I get used to the blurred vision, whether short or long. Then God hands me the new lenses and I'm startled by how much I've been missing: the indispensability of the peanut butter sandwich. . .the glorious hope of an eternity with Him, and an almost infinite number of focus-levels in between. I can live my life in supermarket reading glasses, or I can train myself to look through the right lenses, all of them in their season. . .
Well, it's under 48 hours until I fly away on our mini-vacation in Washington state. Lyric and I have been trading links to restaurants, ferry rides, and whale-watching cruises. We've got our movie list, our passports (in case we take the ferry to Canada), some books, music, tourist brochures, and maps. We haven't decided what all we're going to do, but we have committed to one thing: OD'ing on shrimp.
I studiously avoid watching CNN unless there's a specific reason that outweighs my distaste of their journalistic slant. But Saturday morning, while trying to escape from the highly annoying Bulls and Bears on FOX, I happened to see something of interest. I know a lot of you are Gray's Anatomy fans, and like me you might enjoy seeing a real-life Gray's, in this case entitled "Grady's Anatomy." Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the CNN Health editor, is on staff at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, and when he's not on TV or in the O.R. he's supervising residents there. This series will follow several of those residents, including chronicling the tough task of integrating a personal life with an 80-hour a week work schedule. I'm planning to check it out tonight at 7, 8ET. And if it conflicts with your love for Amazing Race: All Stars or Extreme Home Makeover, it might be worth TiVo'ing or taping!
Plans continue for our trek to Red River in July. This might be the last time that so many of us will be taking the trip together so we want to make it really special. Aging grandparents, grown-up children spreading out across the continent, and increasingly complex schedules make it more of a challenge every year (we haven't been in nine or ten years!) so we are all looking forward to the time we'll spend together. Soon I'll move the Red River ticker to the top of my page :-)
I'm finally admitting to myself that it's time to peel off a couple layers of the bed linens. Seems a shame when it's barely spring, but I'm afraid our cold nights are over and if I want to keep my bed dressed for winter I'll have to set the air conditioning at an obscenely low temperature. And for that, do you know how many carbon credits I'd have to buy from Al Gore? We'd have a "carbon footprint" the size of Sasquatch!
I'm finishing up the book 1491 (see sidebar). It's been on my iPod, and despite my intense interest in the topic, the original inhabitants of Mesoamerica, I could hardly keep my eyes open through this whole thing. I'll lay part of it at the feet of what I consider to be a particularly bad narrator, but I'm not sure that even reading it in hard copy would have salvaged it for me. Some interesting moments, to be sure, but....yeah.
Is it still five more months until football? *Sigh* Okay, well then I'm off for my nap....
...at an educational tool.
That's right, my blog.
And no, I don't mean educational for you, I mean for me!
I have actually astonished myself in the past year with how much I've learned to do. Oh, I love the writing and being able to share photos and the conversations we get going on certain topics. But one of the most unexpected things is how much I've been able to learn about HTML and web design. So much of what I've learned is from hours of experimentation on this and a "practice" blog I have. Much of it you never see, because I'm just playing to see what happens. But it's been a little like immersion language study. I could take a class or read a book and learn all about it, but nothing beats the learning that you do "hands on."
The trial and error approach, where there's nothing to lose and no one ever has to see my errors, has been exhilarating for me. Who'd have thought that a stay-at-home mom and Granny with no teacher and no tools other than my laptop would figure out the basics of coding some of this stuff and end up enjoying it so much? I love this!
You are looking at an educational tool.
Okay, so all that to say that I added a new feature that you probably wouldn't know about unless I told you, since it's invisible. I've added a dictionary resource...not because I think anyone reading the Granny blog would need it necessarily, but only because it was one more thing I figured out how to do and I'm showing off :-) If you double-click on any word on the blog, you'll get a page with the definition and even the audio pronunciation of that word. It's also a thesaurus. Yes, you have to step over an ad or two, but hey, it's free!
All this stuff has so fascinated me that I might really TAKE a class or two, and gather some of the tutorials and other resources that could help me learn to design my own web pages/sites. I'm not interested in it as a money-making venture, though I don't suppose that would hurt; I'm just enjoying the creative aspect and the fact that it's something I can learn and do right on my lap, whether I'm in pain or not, whether it's the middle of the day or it's 3am and I can't sleep.
Anyway, look around every now and then, up and down the sidebars, and you'll see the evidence of my tinkering with stuff as I learn. But don't be surprised if the next day it's gone and there's something else in its place!
And all because two people fell in love....
...we are blessed with five beautiful elves
(Clarification: For those of you who don't know us, this is our daughter, her husband and THEIR five children. I WISH I still looked like this!)
Do you have a special memory of your grandmother's house? The kitchen perhaps, or the fireplace? Maybe the back yard, or her piano, or the room where you always slept when you visited?
I have lots of great memories of the house where Grandma lived. And dwelling on those memories makes me eager to give my grandchildren the same kind of sweet things to look back on.* But little did I dream that one of those would be....my shower.
Every grandmother has had the experience of having an unexpected "accident" at her house. And most of us grannies have learned to stay prepared with extra diapers, pull-ups, wipes, and plastic bags. (If you don't know what the plastic bags are for, it's been too long since you had a little one around :-) ) But there are times when the caliber of accident outguns every wipe and washcloth you can find, and you need to make use of stronger measures, just this side of a power washer.
Well, at some point granddaughter Abby had one of those. And the only solution was to take her to Granny's shower.
Background: Six years ago when we were building this house, we made a few changes to the floor plan that would allow for my disabled father to be able to stay here a little more easily. One of those changes was a 3 1/2 x 5 foot shower stall, glass on two sides, with room for a stool and plenty of room to turn around with a walker. (Little did we know that he would die before he'd ever get to use it and that I would be the one who would need it instead.)
As it turned out, that shower has had uses never envisioned by its designers. Seems that to a two-year old there's nothing with quite the appeal of a glassed-in stall the size of a small room with WATER in it! Abby forgot that she was being made to take a bath--she was enthralled with the whole experience! And thereafter, nearly every time she came for Family Dinner Night at Granny's House, she begged to take a shower in Granny's shower. That's been roughly 2 1/2 years, and it's still a ritual. She brings her jammies and she gets a fresh towel and her favorite lavender baby lotion out of the closet and takes her shower. She's four now, and little two-year-old brother Sam has also discovered the pleasures of crawling around in the water, squealing with delight, and he too goes home in his jammies. And Granny, feigning slight hesitation about it each time the children beg for their shower, secretly exults in providing these memories for them.
You know, there are some things I do for my children and grandchildren that I've planned with care just because I know they are ripe for being stored away as treasured memories...our annual Cookie Day, egg coloring at Easter, tea parties in bed. But there are some gems that just sneak up on me and end up providing the sweetest memories of all because they are the stuff of ordinary life in an extraordinary place.
Your grandchildren will be coming along before you know it, if they're not already here. You may have already started thinking of special things you want to do with them and that's important. But don't forget that much of the chest of memories you'll give them will be "accidental"--cutting off the crust from a sandwich when their own mother wouldn't dream of doing it...stopping to brush her cheeks with blush and showing her the result...letting him hammer nails with you in the garage...reading the same book for the fifth time tonight. They add up, you know? Someday that little one will tell you about a very special memory she has of her time with you, and I can almost guarantee it'll be one you would never have guessed.
And don't be surprised if it has SOMEthing to do with water.
What's your favorite memory of Grandma/Granny/Nana's house? Share it in the comments!
*For you grammar sticklers, watch this blog for my upcoming post on the prepositions we end sentences with :-)
In case you are wondering why comments on your blog are sparse from me...
If you have Visual Verification enabled on your Blogger blog, then I've not been commenting. I do all my Bloglines and blog surfing in Firefox browser, and for some reason Firefox is not letting me see any of the letters I need to type in the box. I don't know if this is true for all Firefox users, but I've done some checking around and a lot of people are experiencing the same thing. It's not a problem if I browse directly from AOL, but I've gotten used to the tabbed browsing in F. and don't want to give it up. When you say something that I am rabidly set on commenting on, I'll switch over and do it on AOL but I don't do that often.
If you hear of a fix for this, LET ME KNOW!
There are some pieces of writing that leave me speechless, and I'm not speechless too often. I won't degrade this by quoting or commenting...I'll just ask you to read and savor. It moved me to tears.
I'm writing to tell you about a pet peeve of mine. I know I'm probably completely alone in this, and I know there are going to be plenty of people who disagree. I don't even expect to change your mind or your habits, but I just need to get this out.
Some time ago when you started blogging, you decided that you wanted to share all about your family. I love that. I have family too, and I like sharing about them. But you decided that you were not going to share their names. That's okay, I guess...I'm not writing to convince you that you should, especially since you might have safety concerns.
But instead of just referring to "my youngest son" or "my dh", you gave them all cutesy names like Skulldigger, Princess Light-of-my-Life, Sandbags, and Barrel o' Laughs. This might seem okay for a time or two, but when I come to your blog every day and read conversations between Princess Light-of-my-Life and Sir Dilly-Dally, I can't take you seriously. Really, I try but I can't. I know that you use the names so often that you get used to them, but it's not the same for your readers. It comes off as a cartoon when I know you don't mean for it to.
Could I suggest that if you really don't want to identify your children in your blog that you give them pseudonyms that might just as well be real? What did you almost name that baby? Or what name would you choose if you were having a new baby now? What was your favorite uncle's name? (Note: if it was Skulldigger, ignore.) If you use an otherwise real-sounding name, I won't be distracted and I'll read with pleasure all the priceless anecdotes that come from your family. It's your blog and you can call your children whatever you choose, but sometimes the poignancy of what you are saying is obscured by the fantasy names.
I know, this is just the opinion of a crotchety Granny. And I won't harp...I'll leave you alone after this. Just had to get it off my chest. And now if you'll excuse me, I must go make dinner for SuperGolfer and Miss Priss and Gandalf and Ants-in-his-Pants.
Granny has spoken :-)
While over picking some Fruit in Season, I saw this item out of Scotts Valley, California:
Tired of parents pulling their kids out of school for a ski trip or a visit to Disneyland, one local school system is billing them for the missed class time at $36.13 per day.
That is how much the Scotts Valley district calculates it loses under a state formula that doles out school funding according to daily attendance.
No, so far they're not making it mandatory and say they have no plans to force payment, but they're billing nonetheless, and I predict that when the outrage dies down, there will be districts not just in California but in Texas and New York and Florida billing parents for the days their kids are absent without a doctor's note.It's been a while, but I did have kids in public schools, in Hawaii, California, and Virginia, and I know that these concerns, if not these solutions, are nothing new:
In California, under a formula that dates to the 1930s, how much a school receives in tax dollars is based on how many students are in class on any given day.
A little anecdote from my own archives. When our kids were in public elementary school in Virginia, the year before we took them out, we were having a lot of trouble doing anything as a family. The Papa was working at the Pentagon, and every time he had a government holiday, the girls didn't. When they were out, he wasn't. So one day we decided to take them out of school for a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, a field trip that I thought was more than worthy of an educational day together.
We thought it courteous to inform the principal, who was a wonderful man and a personal friend. His response? "Well, I'd appreciate it very much if you'd just bring them in first thing in the morning and let them stay for two hours. That way we'll get credit for the whole day and won't lose any money."
I guess I was too young and naive. I was stunned. No mention of the work they'd miss and how they could make it up, no wishing us a nice day together, no comment on what a wonderful experience Williamsburg is for kids. Just concern about how much money he stood to lose for two girls being out for one day.
I know that educators don't start out their careers thinking they'll end up looking at the dollar signs instead of the phonics blends. It makes me sad for the great teachers who teach because they love children and want to help them have successful lives. Unfortunately, a few years in government bureaucracy can make things look different. It can turn kids into commodities to be traded like currency, and teachers left at the mercy of spreadsheets and bottom lines.
And asking parents to pay up for a day off when they've already paid with their taxes and fees and fundraising efforts? Ooooh...don't make Granny come over to that school.
Texas: Calls Needed to Protect Parental Rights
Dear HSLDA members and friends:
Last month we told you about Governor Perry's executive order which would require the vaccination of 11-year-old girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV) a sexually transmitted disease.
In response to this executive order, H.B. 1098 was introduced. H.B. 1098 would rescind the executive order which mandates the HPV vaccine.
Good news! H.B. 1098 passed the House! The bill passed 119-21, which exceeds the two-thirds majority requirement to override a veto. The bill is now in the Senate. We need your calls to ensure passage of the vote by a two-thirds majority in order t0 override the possible gubernatorial veto.
Please call your senator over the next two weeks and give this message:
"Immunization against HPV should not be required for a child's admission into school. Please vote for H.B. 1098, to rescind Governor Perry's executive order."
You can find information on your senator by using our Legislative
I started to include more of the background information here, but since this is a "Family-Friendly Blog" and some of the information is rather graphic, I will just send you here. But this piece is noteworthy:
Over the past few months, Merck, the pharmaceutical manufacturer of
Gardasil, has lobbied vigorously to mandate the HPV vaccine for middle
school age girls. At present there are over 34 states where HPV bills
have been introduced. A few state legislatures have already defeated
HPV bills this year.
Due to all of the concerns raised about mandating the Gardasil vaccine
to middle school age girls, Merck has abandoned its efforts to lobby
state legislatures to require the vaccine.
I encourage you Texans to take action and make your voices heard. And if you're not a Texan, watch your own state closely for efforts to sneak this one in the legislative back door.
Had I been Joseph's mother
I'd have prayed
protection from his brothers:
"God keep him safe;
he is so young,
so different from
she never knew
there would be slavery
and prison, too.
Had I been Moses' mother
I'd have wept
to keep my little son;
praying she might forget
the babe drawn from the water
of the Nile,
had I not kept
him for her
nursing him the while?
Was he not mine
but Pharaoh's daughter?
Had I been Daniel's mother
I should have pled
This Babylonian horde--
godless and cruel--
don't let them take him captive
Had I been Mary--
Oh, had I been she,
I would have cried
as never mother cried,
"...Anything, O God,
With such prayers
my finite wisdom
God, how fortunate
~~Ruth Bell Graham
...Granny's astute political observations.
1. I applaud President Bush for hiring the first Hispanic attorney general. For, in fact, hiring more minorities of every color and stripe than any president before him.
2. I wish he'd chosen a different Hispanic.
3. I've never thought Alberto Gonzales was the sharpest knife in the drawer. I was downright embarrassed for him at his confirmation hearings. He's out of his league, even as a run-of-the-mill attorney.
4. The case against him, though, is trumped up and partisan, even though a couple of GOP'ers have joined the chorus and even though Gonzales may have been ill-advised in some of his actions.
5. Nevertheless, he does not look good right now, either intellectually or ethically, and he's becoming a noose around the neck of an already embattled administration.
6. And now, it's time for Gonzales to honor his president by resigning. It's time.
And that's all I have to say about that.
Labels: Political Observation
Another entry in the discussion about civility in public conversation: Elizabeth Wurtzel writes in today's Opinion Journal about the dangers of a society where
The firstness of the First Amendment trumps everything that competes with it.
The ACLU has pretty much proven how we as a nation have deified the First Amendment (except where it concerns Christians saying whatever they want to say). It, in fact, has become the national god, and that god has given us the right to say anything, no matter how outrageous, no matter how many lives might be ruined. Read this piece to see what it means when carried to it's (il)logical conclusion.
I don't pretend to know the answer here...I don't want to see the Internet policed by any entity I can come up with, and in the current climate self-policing certainly is not going to take hold any time soon. So I suppose I'll put this in the category of social observation, along with a reminder to myself to be careful about what I say/write...
Labels: Social Observation
If you've seen or intend to see the new movie "300", you might also be interested in the History Channel's very comprehensive special on the Battle of Thermopylae. Trish alerted me to this last night, and within minutes The (History) Papa was so fully engrossed that the House could have burned down and he never would have known. Tim thought it was pretty neat, too, what with all those swords and shields and all. Alas, at ten years old this is the closest he'll be getting to "300."
Okay, nine days until Lyric and I fly away to the Pacific Northwest for our Getaway. I've now got my coat, a couple of new spring outfits which will probably be much too thin for March in the north, we have our plane tickets and rental car reservation, we have our lovely room at The Chrysalis Inn reserved for five nights, and we're drooling over the seafood restaurants in the area. We're also hoping to see a whale or two, and if we do I'll post pics when I get home!
And speaking of vacations, the extended family is getting really excited about our Red River, New Mexico vacation together this year. We have those reservations in as well and are planning activities, menus, and transportation arrangements for a fabulous week in the mountains. If it weren't for the fact that I won't have internet access for a week, I might just really drag my feet in getting back home!
Nathan and friends returned home safely from Colorado Friday night. After all the disasters in his life of late, I was surprised and grateful that after passing a state trooper on a two-lane road, slightly too fast, he charmed his way to a warning rather than a ticket. Other than this slight hitch, he reports that their time away was fun and restful. Restful for him maybe.
Has anybody seen the new Sandra Bullock movie "Premonition"? That's one that I've been eager to see ever since seeing the trailer. Of course, a trailer is what made me want to see "Children of Men" and as it turned out,I could have done without that one. How come they can't let the people who make the trailers make the movies, huh?
If you visit Granny's House in the next three months, you might want to play it safe and bring a hard hat. We will be installing two complete new air conditioning units, including new ductwork, painting the entire downstairs and installing new baseboards, recarpeting the downstairs and the staircases, and taking care of several smaller projects. I guess this sort of commits us to staying in this house for a while longer, like maybe thirty more years :-)
So I've told you before that I don't own a coat. That's fine, I got through even an unseasonably cold winter here without one. But a couple of days ago it occurred to me that I'd better get one! Girlfriend Getaway is almost here, and Lyric and I are hoping to go on a whale-watching cruise one of the days we're in Washington. The Puget Sound waters are c-c-c-cold in March and I'm not about to get trapped on a boat full of parkas with nothing more for protection than my Lands' End drifter!
Oh. Wait. This is San Antonio, where coat-selling season lasts just under five days and then the swim suits come out. Aah, no problem, I'll just set out early Saturday morning and I'll find something. I should be able to find a great sale on coats at this time of year!
Old Navy......Ross......TJ Maxx......Dress Barn.......oh, no, am I going to have to actually go to a...a.......mall?.......Target......Kohl's......all these people are looking at me like I've lost my mind......I'm wondering if I should chance it and buy one AFTER I get to Washington......deep breath, Cathi, where do you buy off-season coats? I called Lyric from the Target parking lot and said "Quick, Google 'Burlington Coat Factory San Antonio' for me and find out where the closest one is!" Oh....The closest one is at a..........mall. Okay, well where's the farthest one? (There are only two.) Halfway across town, but that's okay...by now I'm on a mission and I WILL find a coat and that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
Turned out to be a good plan and I wish I'd gone there first. Now the problem was, which one? Jacket or full-length? Parka good only for northern climes or a lighter one that I could wear here next winter? Hooded or not? Down-filled or wool? Red or black? Plain or with lots of bling? Maybe I *should* wait until Washington...maybe they'll have fewer choices to confuse me?
More than an hour later I did leave with a coat. Now I'm looking at it and wondering if it will be warm enough and maybe I should exchange it for something heavier and then maybe I'd be sorry because it would hang in the back of the closet until some winter when I go visit Annie and Kristen and how wise is that and does it look too big on me but if I didn't get a really big one I wouldn't be able to layer sweaters under it and be comfortable and run-on sentences really bug me but this is how my brain is working today and do I really look that good in black but any other color might clash with my clothes but then even black wouldn't look good if I decide to wear brown shoes.....
Can you tell I don't do this very often? As in maybe once every fifteen years? I'm worn out! It was easier when I MADE my coat! And yes. I did. A couple of times.
And maybe it really wouldn't be the end of the world to get trapped in a cold wind for a few hours with only a drifter?
So begins Anne Tyler's telling of a slice of life particularly interesting to me.
What can I say about Back When We Were Grownups? Having recently read her Digging to America, I was prepared for the style, and yet I was pleasantly surprised that this sort of non-novel was so captivating to me. Could it be because it recounts part of the journey of a 53 year old mother and grandmother who sits at the top of a large, crazy family? Yeah, that must be it. Rebecca Davitch is a woman who looks around one day and gets the distinct impression that she's out of place in her own life, that she's living someone else's life, one she never intended to take on. The book tells the story of how she finds out who she really is...I won't give away more than that.
Though this book might be a pleasure for any woman to read, it's especially delicious for its accurate and delicious descriptions of what it's like to be female, middle-aged, and her case, "alone." It comes across as comfortable, endearing, and heartbreakingly honest. As in Digging, Tyler seems light on plot and heavy on character development and nuance. And sometimes that's okay with me. After all, isn't that really how life is? Yes, there are times when I want a page-turner with triple plot twists and a surprise ending. And if that's what you're looking for, stay away from Tyler. She'd rather entrance you with her ability to make you say to yourself, "Oh my! That's exactly how I've felt! You mean it's not just me?"
If you're in your fifth or sixth (or seventh) decade of life you're bound to love this book. If you're younger than that, it might not have exactly the same appeal, but it will certainly help you understand me, or your mother, or any of the other dear women in your life that reside in the land of estrogen replacement. And it will be one you'll surely remember if and when you wake up one morning and discover you might have turned into the wrong person.
Granny: Yes, we'd like a Jr. Burger combo with curly fries and a medium Coke.
Clerk: Would you like fries with that?
Granny: Uh, yes, and a Coke please.
Clerk: What size Coke?
Granny: Uh, that would be medium.
Clerk: Will that be all?
Granny: No, we need a Spicy Chicken Sandwich Combo with curly fries and a medium root beer.
Clerk: Spicy Chicken. What size do you want drink? Medium? Large?
Granny, by now slightly perturbed: Medium, thanks.
Clerk: Any fries with that?
Granny: Yeah sure. How about some curly fries with that.
Clerk: You do want fries? Will that be all?
Granny: No, now we need a bacon cheeseburger combo, with just American cheese, no Swiss, curly fries and a medium Coke.
Clerk: Is this instead of the Jr. Burger?
Granny: No, no...we want the Jr. Burger too.
Clerk: With the fries, right?
Granny: Yes, and we need a medium Coke with the bacon cheeseburger combo.
Clerk: I thought you said root beer?
Granny: One of those, too.
Clerk: One that's not with the combo?
Granny: NO. All of the drinks have been with a combo meal.
Clerk: Okay, go ahead. Anything else?
Granny: Yes, I'd like a fish and chips combo with curly fries and a medium Diet Coke.
Clerk: Are all Cokes Diet?
Granny, getting near the edge here: No ma'am. Just this one.
Clerk: The one with combo meal, right?
Granny, fighting off urge to offer an extra $20 to get someone competent: That's right. There will be four drinks, all of them part of combo meals.
Clerk: Will that be all?
Granny: One egg roll, please.
Clerk: No drink with that?
Granny: No. But make it a medium anyway.
Well...no egg roll. No fish and chips. Fish sandwich instead. And the distinct impression that this is what "full employment" means. No one in San Antonio goes without a job, no matter how unqualified (and unhelpful) they might be.
Labels: Theater of the Absurd
Several hours, a few drugs, and lots of test later, they've released her. The neurologist who evaluated her wants another MRI immediately, two EEGs a week apart, and a few other tests, most to be completed before he sees her again on the 9th.
In addition, she will not be allowed to drive, by law, for six months from today since she has had a consciousness-altering event. Clearly this will alter her life even more and affect all of us as we pitch in to make sure she gets where she needs to go.
Thanks to those of you have been faithful prayer warriors for CJ. Pray that this latest round of tests will reveal the problem(s) and help us get on the road to answers.
In the 90's it was divorce parties and showers...now it's greeting cards for mothers who have had abortions:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A nonprofit organization has unveiled a series of electronic greeting cards that concerned friends and relatives can send to a woman after she chooses to have an abortion.
Like Exhale's confidential talk line for women who have had abortions, the six e-cards available on the group's Web site were designed to be nonpartisan and encompass the range of someone's potential responses to going through an abortion.
"Women having abortions are calling our line because often they don't have someone to talk to—it's a stigmatized issue," said Aspen Baker, founder and executive director of Oakland-based Exhale.
One card expresses sympathy, offering the gentle reminder that, "As you grieve, remember that you are loved." Another provides encouragement for someone who "did the right thing." Yet another strikes a religious tone with the thought that "God will never leave you or forsake you."
Can we get any more calloused to the poor little ones who are being sacrificed?
A couple of friends and some Web sites have offered the suggestion that we also send some cards to the real victims.
I realize that there are mothers who have been totally taken in by a liberal liturgy that obscures the true nature and sacredness of new life, and I want to always be compassionate and sensitive toward them. But I will reserve the greatest portion of my compassion for a life snuffed out before seeing sunshine, one who will never get the chance to read a greeting card.
I've added a new widget to my blog, one that you might find very useful. Michelle over at Scribbit has developed a custom search engine that I'm really excited about, and she's given me permission to post her description of it for you:
It's a custom search engine powered by Google that searches select blogs on parenting, crafts, cooking, gardening and blogs by women. Normally when you search for a word or phrase Google returns millions of results, displaying the most popular based on their magic algorithms. For my custom search engine I have narrowed Google's parameters so that a search here will only return results from the blogs I've specified.
What does this mean?
Say you're writing a post on children watching television and would like to add to what others have written on the subject, by searching with this custom search engine you'd learn what Thrifty Mommy, Play Library, Rocks in My Dryer, Izzy Mom or the other thousand blogs on parenting have to say on the subject.
If you're writing a post on sibling rivalry or how to deal with it and want to link to other posts on the subject, searching in my custom search engine searches your favorite blogs all at once and gives a more manageable number of results specific to your subject matter than Google could provide. Linking to other blogs just got easier.
But it doesn't stop there, if you want to find ideas for encouraging family exercise, children's birthday parties, lunchbox tips or decorating cupcakes--my custom search engine will filter out more of the sites that don't match what you want and will give you more of what your fellow bloggers and their readers have to say on the subject.
If you want to hear what other blogs are saying about Anna Nicole, Brittney, James Cameron, Lost or Grey's Anatomy or if you want to to connect with blogs that are on a specific subject matter--regional blogs, parenting blogs, book review blogs, product review blogs--this search engine will get you closer to what other blogs are saying than Google typically can.
Go ahead and give it a try. Type in "sleep deprivation," "herb gardening," "picky eaters," "kid crafts," "celebrity moms," "breastfeeding," "expat," "kid crafts" or "homeschooling" and see the results that come up. Pretty slick, huh?
You'll find the MomBlog search in my lefthand sidebar, right above my nightstand. Enjoy!
And thanks so much, Michelle!
I would blog this morning, but I must, must, must, make myself get the taxes done.
Okay, BIG MOVIE RECOMMENDATION! Last night Trish and I went to see Amazing Grace. The rest of the family had already seen it, so it was just the two of us. Oh my...I can't say enough good things about this film. The word "compelling" doesn't even begin to do it justice and yet I don't know how else to describe it. Amazing Grace is the story of William Wilberforce, the British politician and crusader who devoted his life to the abolition of the slave trade. Also pulled in is a part of the story of John Newton, captain of a slave-trading ship and the writer of our beloved hymn "Amazing Grace." That performance by Albert Finney is alone worth seeing this movie for, and yet it's just one of the stellar performances by actors both well-known and less so. This is definitely one that will become part of our personal collection and will be part of the way we teach our children and grandchildren that one person CAN make a difference. If you haven't seen Amazing Grace yet, please go see it. Yes, you can wait for DVD, but this one is just bigger than that, both in the visuals of the cathedrals and the slave ships, and the emotional value of seeing it "larger than life." I give it as many stars as is legally possible :-)
Our pastor is preaching a wonderful series of sermons on the Resurrection from 1 Cor. 15. This, as well as the vivid word picture of one Lenten candle being snuffed out each week as we watch, are powerful reminders of the hopelessness we experience as fallen humans until we are made aware of and personally encounter the truth of Christ's resurrection. Only then can we experience the comfort that no matter what this life holds, we too can be resurrected to an eternal life in Him. Hallelujah!
Hurray...Rudy's BBQ for Sunday dinner!
It's Mother-Biting-Her-Nails weekend here. Nathan and two other (male) late-adolescent friends have DRIVEN to Colorado for a few days. How come moms don't get a say in whether their baby boys can just get in a car and drive across the country, huh? Oh, being a mother was so much easier when I was changing drool bibs and mashing carrots.
I'm thoroughly engrossed in my latest books, one on audio (Back When We Were Grownups, Anne Tyler) and one in hard copy (The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova). I may have mentioned here before that my biggest fear in life is that I will die before I get everything read. So I'm trying to keep myself healthy :-)
This week I need to buckle down and make some carpet choices. If you have any great advice, I'm all ears! We're planning to do the entire downstairs this spring, and oh did I mention, I'm SICK of berber? I want something that feels really cushy and is the color of the dirt right outside our doors!
Time for a long winter's nap. Hey, it's still winter, isn't it?
...when did we forget how to be nice?
My favorite columnist and social observer Peggy Noonan reminds us today of what our Grannies always told us, and she wonders out loud why we have so easily set aside civility and "nice" in public discourse.
As always, she's worth reading and savoring...
hat tip: Trish
Labels: Social Observation
WASN'T IT A GREAT PARTY?? Congrats to the gals at 5minutesformom for putting on such a bash! Did you see the numbers? Wow--900+ partygoers. I was only able to get around to a couple hundred, but I'm saving the list and will try to visit all the participants sooner or later, even though the official party week is over. I think it was a fabulous idea and I hope we do it every year!
Prison threat for pensioner who put sand back on beach
A pensioner has been threatened with prison or a £50,000 fine if he takes windblown sand back to the beach where it came from.
Arthur Bulmer’s seafront garden became carpeted after a week of storms swept tons of sand from the beach across the road.
It seemed like common sense to shovel it into his wheelbarrow and take it back, load by load, to its rightful place.
But the local council did not share Mr Bulmer's idea of logic.
Very sad story, but at least it help me to know that the US is not the only country which shows blatant disregard for private property and personal freedom. Well, I'm sure I always knew that...but lately with the eminent domain abuses and other governmental excesses, it's easy to think it's only AMERICA going south in a handbasket.
Read Mr. Bulmer's story, as well as the twisted logic of his borough council, here.
Labels: Theater of the Absurd
I received a sweet email this morning from someone who found my blog from Australia. I know that from time to time I have international visitors--from Japan and Korea, Australia, Canada, and many from Europe. I'd LOVE to know who you are and how you found me! Some of you may have reached me sort of accidentally by a random Google search and I welcome you, too...but if you got here or regularly visit "on purpose" because of a referral from another blog, etc. I would love you meet you and find out about you. So please, if you're visiting from somewhere other than the US, leave a comment in this post and let me know you've been here. And if you're a regular visitor even from here in the US and we haven't corresponded yet, let me know that too. Part of the fun of blogging is the connection...and though there's nothing wrong with lurking, I'd love to know you!
In the spirit of party week, I give you two of my favorite party-ers!
First, a couple notes of explanation regarding the characters here. And are they ever characters :-)
Aubrey is my oldest daughter, mother of 6, five boys and girl. Her days are also made even more interesting by her commitment to care for and help homeschool two other young boys, sons of Steph, a dear single mother and precious friend. So for half the week, she has eight children at her house, day and night.
Tami is an almost-daughter, mother of five girls, close friend of Aubrey. Though initially their personalities were probably very similar, the lives God has blessed them with them have shaped them into quite different people, as you will see if you veer off your party path and go visit them.
This week, Tami has been posting a series of descriptions of her family's homeschooling days. Here is the first: Sugar 'n' Spice: Homeschooling at the Academy, Part 1
Warning: Approach with care, and if you dare, read Part 2 and Part 3.
(Note: the "Aubrey" mentioned in these posts is Tami's daughter, age 8, NOT my daughter, age **)
Well, not to be outdone, Aubrey has decided to come clean about HER days. She would never have time to write a Part 2 or 3, so it's all in this post:
Better Together: Every day's a revolution
Warning: DO NOT READ if you've got a glass of tea in your hand or a mouthful of ANYthing, or if you have small children or animals on your lap. This would be quite dangerous.
Congrats to both you party girls, and you now deserve a dinner out...Coconut Shrimp, anyone?
I think where we landed was that there are a couple of things he wants to try before resorting to the major revision of my left hip. He suspects that part of my problem could be helped by some physical therapy to strengthen the muscle tissue surrounding the hip. That tissue was obviously sliced through to get to the hip in the first place, and although it will never be the same, we are going to work to, as the Bible says, "strengthen that which remains."
The other problem, the unrelenting pain in my thigh, may be helped by a less invasive operation called a strut graft. This would be accomplished using (pardon me if this is TMI) "donor" bone from someone, as the doctor put it, who doesn't need theirs any more. 'Nuff said.
The problem is that this doctor is the only one here who does strut grafts and he is deploying to Iraq in May and is booked pretty solid until then. So we will look for a place that I can be "worked in" (don't you love a term like that for surgery?)so I don't have to wait until the fall.
I'm relieved that I'm not facing an immediate new hip replacement. Given the reality of how long I've dealt with the pain, I'm pretty sure it's not just going to go away, so I'm glad to know we might have an answer that's less risky and will mean less down time. So thank you for praying, and you can keep praying that this will return me to a place of not having to make life/activity decisions based on how much my leg is hurting!
...and can the world get any more fun? I mean is there anything cooler than this? A refrigerator that plugs into your laptop? Oh I am such a gadget freak! I wish I hadn't seen this!
Laptop, Diet Coke, good to go!
We are STILL enjoying unseasonably cool weather here. I told the Papa last night that it feels like I'll be more ready to cope with a long hot summer after having a real winter. Yeah, yeah, I know that you folks in Minnesota (any readers up there?) are laughing at the idea of a real winter, and on some level I agree. But multiple freezes in one year and LOTS of cold nights and chilly days is a rarity in this part of the country and I'll take what I can get and be grateful!
On Wednesday of this week I will meet with the orthopedic surgeon. I've had a CT scan and a nuclear bone scan (yeah, I have nuclear bones now) in the past couple of weeks, and now we'll look at results and see what it means for the future. There's a good chance it's going to mean a "revision" of my hip replacement but I'm still holding out a bit of hope that the doctor won't think it's necessary. Of course then that means putting up with a fair amount of pain into the foreseeable future, also not a fun prospect. I'll let you know :-)
My mother has done pretty well with her first week back at the rehab hospital. The goal is to have her ready to release by the 13th, but in order to go home she has to be able to walk unassisted from her bed to the bathroom and that is still questionable. Friday she was elated to walk 21 steps with help...still a lot of work to do.
Some of you have asked about the ticker and photo at the top of the page. At the end of the month, Lyric and I are getting away for one of our mini-vacations, this time to the Pacific Northwest. And yes, that photo is the place we'll REALLY be staying. Pretty cool, huh? It's the Chrysalis Inn (you readers of Lyric's blog will see the connection) in Bellingham, Washington, between Seattle and Vancouver BC. We hope to do a little sightseeing both north and south of the border and a lot of lounging around...
At the bottom of the page you'll see the ticker for our much-anticipated family vacation to Red River, New Mexico. And when I say family, I mean F A M I L Y! Grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins...more like a reunion! When I'm back from our Girlfriend Getaway I'll be putting the Red River ticker at the top so I can savor the countdown!
Conversation with 5 year old grandson Isaac, sitting across from me at the church dinner today.
Isaac: (Pointing at my plate) I want one of those.....noodles.
Granny: These? These are onion rings!
Isaac: Oh, I know that.
Granny: Wow, do you LIKE onions?
Isaac: Well...not really. I'd like them better if they'd put french fries in them!
If you don't have a grandson, you need to get one :-)
I have a batch of lemon bars in the oven, so I'd better scoot out to the kitchen to rescue them before they look too much like chocolate bars!
The concept is to get to know other bloggers and let them get to know you. If you've been blogsurfing for any time at all, you know there's a pretty incredible community out there...some remarkable writing talent, some great ideas in the areas of homemaking, crafting, homeschooling, personal finance, you name it...and then a few gems that restore and nourish the soul, like the one tended lovingly by my cousin/best friend. My lovely daughters have blogs here, here, here, here, and here. The family blog is here. So I could easily spend WAY too much time in BlogWorld! What time I can give to blogging and reading blogs is a treasure to me, and I hope you're enjoying it too...
So for those of you visiting me for the first time, come in off the porch (since it's still a little cool) and join me in the kitchen. You can read about me in my profile (right sidebar) so I won't repeat much of that here. But I would like to introduce you to my family!
They are, in order of appearance left to right (and in some cases wincing at the bright sunshine!): John (The Papa), Cathi (Granny), Aubrey, Kristen, Annie, CJ, Nathan, Bethany, Shelley, Caleb, and Timothy. This picture was taken in back of Grandma Lola and Pawpop's home this past weekend, and it represents one of the now rare times that we have all nine of our children together!
You might have noticed my "tagline" in the header: Celebrating Learning and Loving Across the Generations." Most of the time when I post for the day (rarely more than once in a day) I look back at that line and think, "Am I staying true to my theme?" Obviously that theme can cover a LOT of topics, and it does...my blog covers family happenings; political events, activism, and humor; goings-on with my HOPE group of homeschooling moms; musings from our 22 year homeschooling journey; the occasional comment on pop culture; a recipe or two; lots about books; a little about music. But in everything I want to CELEBRATE learning, loving, sharing with my children, my grandchildren, and God willing, someday with my great-grandchildren. I hope you'll come and get a spark for the joy of life-long learning and for the joy that awaits all of us when we share what we learn with love and generosity.
Stop back by often...soon it will be warm enough to be on the porch, and soon after that it will be way too HOT to be on the porch, but wherever we're gathering you're welcome to join in with insights, questions, or just mindless banter. I enjoy it all!