Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 31, 2009

Job 10:11-13 Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit. And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that this is with thee.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

1. Sleeping in my own bed.
2. Quiet.
3. Sleeping through the night.
4. Sitting on my deck in the morning drinking coffee.
5. A break from the Gaithers.
6. Reading.
7. Not being a nurse at home.
8. Putting my throw rugs back down.
9. Not asking, "Did you take your pills?"
10. A renewed appreciation for life, health and the opportunity to make better choices and avoid sad consequences.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Book Review

Can you believe I have only finished one single book this week? That should tell you how busy I've been! Those quiet moments I usually steal for reading have been otherwise occupied.

So! On the return trip from Alabama we listened to "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" by Mitch Album. I had no interest in this book and the Mr. chose it for his mom and dad to listen to on the ride. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It was not any theological masterpiece and I imagine it was never intended to be. But as a person who has always been taught about my eternity in heaven I loved stretching my imagination beyond pearly gates and streets of gold. Perhaps I shouldn't admit it; but I've always had mixed emotions about heaven. I suppose it's a measure of my spirituality that the simple truth of eternity in the presence of Christ doesn't wipe away all of my attachments to the only life I have known so far. I have felt a sense of sadness and even grief that in heaven I won't be Dean's wife, daboyz' mom. My experience has always been to believe that in heaven we won't need those earthly relationships. I just haven't reached that height of understanding to be anxious to leave all of the things I love behind. Yes, I know I will not experience mourning for the life left behind. But now while I'm living it, I can't imagine heaven minus this present joy.

Which brings me to why I think I enjoyed this book. The heaven of "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" allows for the goodness of this life to fold over into the perfection of heaven. I realize that most people who would have wanted to have already read this book but I'll leave my description at that. If you haven't read it, give it a go. It's good fodder for conversation if nothing else. I found it sweet and soothing.

As for "real" books I am presently reading "Case Histories" by Kate Atkinson. I am not sure what genre this book belongs to and I'm almost done with it. I guess I'd call it a mystery? It's one of these complicated stories where all of these separate people seem to exist entirely apart from one another chapter by chapter. About 3/4 through we start to see where lives have overlapped either directly or indirectly. There are two major mysteries at the forefront, the disappearance of a little girl thirty years earlier and the murder of a young woman ten years ago. The main character is named Jackson, a former police officer turned private detective. The little girl's now adult sisters need to know what became of her after a toy believed to have disappeared with the child is found in the desk of their father upon his death. The father of the murdered young woman needs to know why and who did this as his daughter was working in his office when a man came in and asked for him. When the father was not available, his daughter was murdered.

How this will all resolve 110 pages is still unclear. I'm anxious to find out and it's been a good read.

The only book completed this week is "What You Have Left" by Will Allison. This is a novel about a man who leaves his young daughter in the care of his father-in-law after his wife's accidental death. He walks away and the book beings there. A little like "Case Histories" we see parallel lives that almost converge only the connection is always this little girl and her life growing up wondering where her dad is. We understand what happened leading up to his abandonment and ultimately what becomes of the now adult daughter as she searches for him. And yes, she finds him. A good read, not fascinating. Can't say I'd advise you to run out and get it but if you stumble across it, it'll hold your attention.

On my book pile is "The Cure For Grief" by Nelle Hermann. Haven't started that yet.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Good Thursday

Hi guys,
Yes Stacy is correct. Today is the UPO doctor day! Not sure what to expect but I'll let you know what I find out. My appointment is at 9:20.
Dean and I take the folks back to Alabama tomorrow. They've put their names on a list for an assisted living apartment here in Michigan for July. They hope to put their house on the market down south and spend the next month preparing with the help of Dean's sister. We continue to pray for wisdom and strength. Our next concern is that when they return, they might settle back into their old routines and not follow through. I've been researching assistance programs in Alabama just in case that happens but there really isn't much out there.
So today we pack up, have a last visit with Dean's grandma and get ready for the 12 hours in reverse. Please pray for traveling mercy and a good night's sleep tonight!

Update: The UPO has turned out not to be a third ovary like some people insisted it was. It is...we don't know what it is. It is larger than it was in March and my actual second right ovary is MIA. It's either blocked by the UPO or simply gone. I'll be having surgery in the next few weeks and at that time the doctor will either remove the ovary or proceed to complete hysterectomy depending on what they see in there. They aren't sure what they're looking at right now. So keep praying and if anybody happens to see my right ovary, please send her home.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Delray Revisited

That's the word that comes to mind when I think of neighborhoods and "good old days." I never lived in Delray, don't recall ever visiting there other than driving through with my dad as a kid. Delray is a little corner of Detroit where European immigrant settled many years ago to raise their families and figure out a life in America. I'm sure the people who experienced it would tell you about poverty and hard times. Yet, those people have also told me about family and love and fond memories. Delray is a slum now. Nothing to go back to. In the mysterious way of the entire city of Detroit, it has turned on itself and intentionally self-destructed. If anyone has figured out why mansions and gardens are better enjoyed as hollowed out graves without headstones please explain it to me. But I digress.

The black and white pictures of families in the old neighborhoods continue to call out to me and I've yet to give up the dream of the old days. That's why I keep hounding my parents to buy a house on my street and we continue to plan the family compound. You see, I believe that the better ways of what was doesn't really just fade away unless we turn our backs. I know that in those old Delray homes, people struggled to keep food on the table. I know there was abuse and alcoholism and crime. I don't think it was a Dagwood & Daisy Bumstead life. Although that is what I'd really like it to be! Still, I think we walk too easily away from closeness and across the street family.

So here I am all these years after Delray. I still look up and down my street and & dad could live there. Amy & Rob there? Pat & Tom and the girls and their families there, there, there. Every time a for sale sign is erected on our block I have a little inner voice assigning which family should live there. You may think it sounds a bit Pollyanna (and why not?!) but yesterday the Mr. counted the seven houses bordering our property and decided it would be ideal if my parents bought one of those houses someday so a gate could be installed for yard to yard access. Better than across the street, you see. And daboyz, we'll want them to choose homes within walking distance too. The easier for the grandchildren to ride their bikes over. It's not altogether ridiculous. I lived within riding distance of my grandparents. My kids walked to my parents. It's really just a matter of holding the line, of not accepting the distance.

I don't know it time and opportunity will allow Delray to be reborn in our lives. If not, I suppose the ten minute drive between us isn't a tragedy.

And it is true, I am not the homemaker my grandmothers were. I don't have the luxury of walking across the street for a long morning's coffee break. It couldn't be the Bumstead Delray hybrid I dream of even if I could force everyone to live on my street. I'm quite sure the daydreams of family dinners every Sunday would become the burden of family dinners every Sunday. I bet my dad would comment on our too long lawn and I'd think to myself, "If only they didn't live across the fence!" The grandchildren would come riding up the drive after I've worked ten hours and I'd groan, "Can't I get an evening's rest? Where are their parents!" I know, I know, I know.

But you know what else? I suspect that fifty years ago, grandmothers wanted quiet evenings and fathers criticized landscaping and women rolled their eyes as their neighbors walked up the walk for a cup of coffee. It was still good, better even. You'll never convince me otherwise.

So I'll continue to watch the for sale signs and mentioned in passing (not really in passing) that so and so should buy that house so we'll all be close by. I'll sit on my deck in the morning with my coffee and wish my mom was just across the fence to join me. I'll be an obnoxious mother-in-law and "encourage" my boys to move their families in down the street. And maybe someone someday will be tricked into my compound. And like it or not, they'll like it!

Who knows, someday you might just open an e mail from me with a real estate link...

Said the spider to the fly...;)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

May 24, 2009

Psalm 115:1-3 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Alexa's Tag~6 Unimportant Favorites!

1. A clean kitchen.
2. My routines.
3. A book every night.
4. Smells. I know it's silly but it's very important in an unimportant way!
5. Taking off all of my make-up every night.
6. Silence.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Hey guys,
T's gram passed away this morning in West Virginia. T's mom was at her side. Please pray for the family as they say good-bye to their mother and grandmother. Tina is headed for West Virginia tonight for the funeral on Sunday, so remember her to the Lord for safe travel as well. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Take Me Out...

Dean's parents are doing well here at the Casa de Smith. His dad has had some changes in his routine (thanks to some pushy nurse) and he's a bit more lucid. He is able to track forward a week or so with their schedule and remembers all of our names. They are eating well and today they went on a walk around the block with the Mr.! Well, the Mr. and the FIL walked, the MIL road her scooter but it was still a big deal!

Tonight the Mr. has taken his dad to a Tiger game and Jay is along to assist. Dean's dad was excited to go and when I got home from work he was wearing his "new pants" and talking about the game. He had been saving his new pants for a special occasion you see.

So at the moment, they are at Comerica Park. The MIL is tucked in to bed and sound asleep.

As for Donny, he has gone to sleep outside on the deck and refuses to come back inside. I guess he figures if he ain't sleeping in his bed, he'll sleep under the stars.

Tomorrow morning Dean will take the folks to visit an assisted living center and then they will go for a few nights to stay with Dean's grandmother. Not sure how that's gonna work out! LORD HAVE MERCY!

All in all, things are going well. Thanks for your prayers and please continue to remember us as we try to make some decisions for the future.

I'm going to bed!
Update: Everybody enjoyed the game and got home safely!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lord Have Mercy!

We arrived home to Michigan yesterday at about 6:00 p.m. with the Mr.'s parents in tow. We drove the twelve hours straight through at their request. Let me just say, it hasn't been easy! I spent just about the entire trip text messaging to T & my sister just to keep myself from going around the bend! It was the high tech version of being talked off of a ledge.

Dean's dad has a very fast progressing form of Alzheimer's (or as he says, "Auld Timesers.") He is very childlike and his short term memory is less than one minute. In other words, you ask him to go to the kitchen for a towel and if he makes it to the kitchen he can't remember why he's there. Those are the good moments. At other times he can't remember what or where the kitchen is. He experiences sun downing as well. If you recall the movie The Notebook you'll remember that the wife was relatively calm throughout the day and then in the evening she became so agitated that she had to be physically managed and sedated. His dad is not at the point of physical management but does require taking his arm and escorting him to where he needs to be. He gets up all night and rifles through drawers, test drawer locks and is more confused and anxious than during the daylight hours. Last evening he became worse yet being out of his familiar environment and Dean & I half carried him to bed where Dean undressed him and literally tucked him in. At 1:00 AM we awoke with him standing in our bedroom telling us his wife was in that other room and he doesn't know where their things are. Again the gentle escort back to bed. This morning he is a little more calm although our lack of his usual grape jelly was another anxious moment.

Dean's mom does not have Auld Timesers although her memory is not as intact as she believes it to be. However, thirty some years of unmanaged health problems and her own stubborn refusal to push herself to do anything she doesn't care to do has taken a horrific toll. She is unable to walk more than three feet even with the use of a walker. She refuses to use the walker properly so she bends over like a question mark and lays her forearms against it for support so she can no longer stand straight. She is legally blind as a result of uncontrolled sugar. She needs knee and hip replacement but because of her extreme weight and poor diabetes control no one will operate on her. As a result, she cannot climb any stairs including the short stoop up into the house, cannot get herself into bed, neither into nor our of the tub and cannot get into the car. Dean, his father and I have to lift her. When she gets up at night for the bathroom we all get up with her to assist.

Dean is trying to help them realize that they need to move into assisted living quarters as they still live in their own home and it has become dangerous. He'd like to see them move back to Michigan, we'll see. Having moved to Alabama when Dean's sister was a child, she now lives there with her family, including three small boys, so they have to choose between their children regarding their living arrangements. With more resources here as well as the fact that I am a nurse and our kids our grown; I wonder if it would not be better here. But it's a decision for their family. As you recall, I'm being proactive and forcing my parents to move across the street!

The Mr. is a wonderful guy and no less so with this situation. He's sad and stressed. But he's quickly learning to deal with them which includes that special transition to caretaker of parents. It takes great tenderness and wisdom to take control without taking their dignity and to remember they are still the parents. He's doing so with grace and humor. Of course, he also gets into bed at night and holds his head in his hands and whispers, "Lord have mercy!" But always with a grin.

Donny is also experiencing some Sun downing. Every night he gets into bed with me while I read and falls asleep. Well, the folks are occupying our queen sized bed and the Mr. and I are in the guest room full size. This is causing no small amount of anxiety for the dog who keeps pacing into "their" room and crying. He also peeked over the side of the bed to see if those strangers were still there in the middle of the night. I know this because I heard the father-in-law say, "Marty (the M-I-L), there's a strange dog here in the house." So we locked that strange dog here in the guest room causing much whining and over the bed peeking. He finally got up into the bed with us and there we were, the Mr., the dog in the middle and myself trying to listen for the 'rents and soothe each other to sleep at the same time.

I'll write about the road trip in another post. It'll be more light hearted although if you were experiencing it you would've kept waiting for Chevy Chase to show up with a map to Wally World. Thank you again to T & Amy for spending 12 hours with me via cell phone.

Until tomorrow...


Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17, 2009

Pslam 145:5 I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


1. Knowing glance
2. Dark chocolate
3. Silly dog
4. Crisp breeze
5. Good hair day
6. Autumn leaves
7. First love
8. Expectant mother
9. Family photographs
10. Morning sun

Friday, May 15, 2009

Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?

The Mr. and I are hitting the road to go pick up his parents in Alabama and bring them to Michigan to visit with family. We'll be driving on Saturday, spending the night and arriving in Alabama on Sunday, spending the night there and making the trip back by driving straight through with the folks on Monday. On the 29th we'll do the whole thing in reverse. Dean's dad has the beginnings of Alzheimer's and his mom is disabled and legally blind so the trip won't be easy. They are afraid to fly and don't want to stay in a hotel so we're doing our best to accommodate what they say will be easiest for them.

While here Dean's mom will visit her own mom for a few days as well as her sister who has leukemia. The Mr. has a four step sibs one of which is a brother whose health is failing and he is in need of a liver transplant. My father-in-law has one surviving brother who lives in the area. We aren't sure how much visiting he'll be up to but we'll do as much as they feel like doing. Dean's also hoping to take his dad to a Tiger game on Wednesday the 20th. They will stay with us for half the time and Dean's grandma half of the time.

Please pray for a good trip and a good visit. And if you don't see much of me, pray even harder!
In the meantime, I'll be back eventually!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday Book Review

Finished reading "The Writing Class" last Friday and would recommend it if you like murder mysteries and aren't a fan of gore. Great writing without the need for blood and guts. In fact, I rarely skip to the end of a book because that's cheating; but I couldn't wait to find out who the murderer was AND I was completely surprised at the answer.

I picked up seven new books this last weekend at the library and I just finished "Songs Without Words" by Ann Packer. Also a great read. It's about two women who have been best friends since they were kids. Sarabeth's mother committed suicide when the girls were in high school. Sarabeth moves in with Liz and her parents to finish out her senior year. Chapter one begins with the women now in their forties and still close. Liz has a family with her husband and two kids while Sarabeth has remained single. The daughter of Liz and her husband, Brody, attempts suicide and that's where the struggle begins between the friends. Lauren's suicide attempt turns Sarabeth's attention inward to her own loss and by default, her need for Liz to see her through it. For obvious reasons, Liz can't be the strong one this time and their friendship begins to splinter. At first glance you might react with dislike for Sarabeth and the terrible selfishness of her neediness but the author has somehow made it ok that both of the women are victims and neither one is the bad guy. At one point they are in their favorite restaurant trying to find their way back to normal and suddenly, Liz has snapped at Sarabeth, "I'm not your mother." I found myself going back to reread and thinking, what just happened? But that's the beauty of Packer's writing. Isn't that the way of life in the real world? Two people with equal right to want solace from their pain and with equal right to resent, or to at least be unable, to give solace? And how many moments in life does conversation suddenly become horrible and hurtful and yet true and just all at once? How many times do we really wonder, what just happened? And yet lack the energy to go back and try to figure it out?

Although "Songs Without Words" is driven by the friendship between Liz and Sarabeth the other relationships in the book are fully developed and one is not left trying to juggle the characters. I felt the struggle to stay in love between Liz and her husband and completely understood that pain can turn love into hate and back again in a heartbeat. At one point, Sarabeth states that Liz's son Joe "is so cute" and Liz replies that this is what worries her, that he "thinks it's his job to always been cute." I understood that, the pain of the too good child.

I'd recommend both of these books as page-turners for different reasons. "The Writing Class" for plain old entertainment. You won't find yourself thinking deeply about the story but you'll enjoy every moment of a well told mystery. "Songs Without Words" will pull you in to the pain of no one to blame and yet, the deep need to blame someone. Even to hate someone you love is better than to feel out of control.

I also finished a book of short stories by Richard Russo, author of "Bridge of Sighs." The collection is entitled "The Whore's Child" and is also worth checking out. I am not usually a fan of short stories but this author has a gift of finding the voice within us all, the one that doubts and hopes and fears and believes all at once. His characters seem to have a common thread of wanting things to be good and fine while at the same time, they are unable to pretend that ugliness isn't there.
On the nonfiction list is "A Girl From Yamhill, A Memoir", the autobiography of Beverly Cleary. Mrs. Clearly is the author of the Ramona Quimby children's books that thousand of us have read. This short book begins at the author's earliest memories around age two living on the family farm and continues chronologically through her departure for college at age eighteen. It's no surprise that the book is beautifully and simply written. There is a sweet unassuming feeling to it that reminded me of my own grandparents' childhood experiences during the Great Depression. She lived a happy and secure early childhood in Yamhill, Oregon until her family moved away from the country to spare her mother the farm life she hated. Her life reminded happy but in a different manner as she learned to adapt and change to not only her own life but an entire country and world very much in flux. Mrs. Cleary finds a way to express the easy and fun relationship with her parents that became more tense and difficult without giving in to the temptation of drama for drama's effect. As life changes, so does her relationship with her parents. No one has to be demonized nor is anyone the hero. It is just the true story of the life experienced by an entire generation. And of course, I love reading about days when families were found laughing out loud to simple radio programs and children's greatest hope for summer was their own pair of roller skates. I absolutely enjoyed every page of this honest simple true story. Oh, and for good measure there are pictures of little girls in Mary Janes and with bows in their bobbed hair! What more could you ask for?

So there's my weekly book review. What are you reading?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tea Bags

This morning I was thinking about making a cup of hot tea when the silliest idea took shape in my head. I wanted decaf tea, that was the problem. I have a cabinet in which I store the boxes of tea. On my counter top is a tray with a little basket in which I throw a few bags at a time. I wanted decaf tea but if there were no decaf bags in the little basket on the tray, I didn't feel up to going into the cabinet ten feet away to take some out of the box. If you've never been depressed I imagine you're thinking this is silly, lazy or crazy. And it is. But if you have been depressed, you know it also makes perfect sense. My depression has been in remission for almost two years now and those simple tasks I used to be overwhelmed by don't generally seem so overwhelming any longer. I think of myself as having had rough edges all the way around my mind that are smoothed out. Then again, there are moments when the tea bags are too far away.

In case you're wondering what this means it isn't that I am depressed again. It's just that my mind and body still have habits that linger after the depression is long since gone. How long do habits take to form? Not sure, although I'm sure a little net surfing could find the answer. It isn't really that important for me to know just what length of time a person would need to be sick before tea bags became too much to bear. Not important because my illness was measured in years of not realizing that everyone wasn't felled by tea bags and their like.

The problem of the little basket in need of decaf bags, which indeed it was, was a thought process that took place in fleeting moments. I walked past the serving tray to the cabinet and pulled out a hand full of decaf bags, dropped them into the little basket and turned on the stove to heat up the kettle. It was all of a piece, I want tea-are there bags in the basket-if not I'll skip it-that's ridiculous, just refill the basket-of course I will. And-this is how I would've thought a few years ago.

Amazing to me, how habits remain when their original cause is long since gone. Despite the depression being treated I still have to break those old depressed habits. The behavior, it seems, doesn't necessarily follow behind the change of circumstance. I suddenly understand a little better where bitterness comes from. It's a habit that remains after the original offense is long since gone.

I'm sipping that cup of decaf tea right now. One moment at a time it seems, I am renewed.

Romans 12: 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hungarian Flu (Antidote: Stuffed Cabbage)

Home today with a sore throat, aches, snots. I blame the Mr. who did not finish his antibiotics when he was sick and spent a week breathing cooties at me all night. I have 36 hours on the road coming up this weekend to Alabama and back so please pray that this passes quickly. I start to think I'm feeling decent until I actually attempt to do something like stand up. I have flowers to plant and a house to get ready for my in laws, I CANNOT BE SICK RIGHT NOW!
On to other issues. There are three houses across the street from me that appear to be vacant and are for sale. Given the current market, I'm thinking they are priced to move. My mom and dad live about ten minutes away. Don't you think they should sell their house and buy one of the houses right across the street? Please go to my mom's blog, e mail her, call her and in general bombard her with this idea. You may recall that just such blog pressure got me my first dishwasher a few years back!
It's colder here than it was yesterday with that same bright sky that lures you outside that then freezes your face off. I don't dare venture out given my current compromised state. Shut up Margie, cold does too make you sick! But I do need to get outside and plant the flowers my mom brought over for the bird garden. Could she be hinting that the blue cat isn't quite the Home & Garden look of the year?
Well, being on day two of house arrest (which I actually enjoy) I haven't much of interest to say. My laundry is caught up and that's all I accomplished yesterday. I'm going to hunker down in the C.S. Lewis Room with my current library book, "Songs Without Words" by Ann Packer (review to follow this week.) Being that the C.S. Lewis Room is in the front of the house, I'll keep an eye on my parents houses. If I see any potential buyers poking around I'm going to run outside in my pajamas and scare them away.
Achoo. Oink.
Pic: Taken over the Mexican border shortly after the Swine Flu and Avian Flu mutated into H1N1.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cold Cold, Bright Bright

Good morning and hoping you all had a loverly mudder's day. I had to work this weekend to do some juggling giving me next weekend off for our trip to Alabama. One of the goals our hospital administration is currently working on is to reduce the amount of weekend/evening/holiday time required of supervisors so this weekend I was able to work short days and turn some of the responsibility over to another nurse. She did a great job and was so generous and sweet about it allowing me to sneak away early with a clear conscience. Thank you Mary! I'm worn out having worked through the weekend without a day off but Monday has arrived, I survived and I'm sitting at my desk looking into my back yard with visions of laundry dancing in my head. Actually this is a good thing! It's one of those tricky Michigan spring mornings, looks like you could sit outside and enjoy your coffee but it's 44 degrees out there and the frost warning doesn't expire for another hour. I'm not exactly a world traveler but to me it is very classical Michigan weather. Bright bright sun, cold cold air. It's the feeling of spring mornings, autumn afternoons and up north. Does that make any sense? I long for warmth and yet, this has its own familiarity that is good. There's a sensory memory attached to these Michigan moments that brings to mind years of goodness experienced in cold cold bright bright moments.

With my April birthday we switch gears unofficially from indoor to outdoor focus around here. So I've received a lilac bush from my parents which is thriving in the corner of my yard. When I saw the first fat purple blossom I looked around hoping for someone, anyone to show it to! Not a neighbor or family member in sight. Donny was not impressed. Speaking of Donny, my parents also gave me a hydrangea for my birthday which he "rescued" from it's corner of the yard to place it gently on the ground until it couldn't be revived. Four times we replanted it, four times he rescued it. He doesn't gnaw on it, just pulls it gently out of the earth and lays it on the grass. Much like his rescue of my swamp garden.

For my birthday I was given, by the Mr., a high top bistro set for the deck and a hammock (which waits in the garage for hammock weather.) Also for spring season the Mr. is adding brick retaining wall accents here and there. My yard is sort of divided in two, directly behind the house is the deck and the smaller part. Across the drive is the second lot which, in my opinion, looks kind of like a park. The park side has large trees and a large expanse of lawn. There's a small patio off of the garage on this side that we will use for our hammock and yard furniture. A small walkway stretches out beyond this patio and that is where our garden will go in the next few weeks. On the house side we are working on sprucing things up. It's a bit of a wasteland. Somewhere along the line, my gramma had the privacy hedges yanked out (why?) and there is no landscaping beyond the deck. Hence the retaining walls around my lilac bush in the corner, around the utility pole (where my garden was last year) and along the edge of the garage on the house side. I've put a blue ceramic bird bath around in what is now the bird garden at the utility pole. A few shepherd's hooks support bird feeders and just to be silly I pulled out the blue (yes blue) ceramic cat rescued from my Grandma's house last year. It's a hodge podge at the moment with my goal being to get my bird feeders hung and with intent to hang some flower baskets and do some serious landscaping over the next month. The Mr. added the bricks as a step toward the real plans of flowers around the pole. Well, we have a very sweet elderly neighbor catty corner behind us named Ann. Ann's elderly aunt lived with Ann and her husband and passed away in the fall. When we met over the fence Ann told me her husband, Ed, had died in February. Then Ann pointed to my bird garden...unmatched shepherd hooks with three bird feeders, blue ceramic bird bath and blue ceramic cat surrounded by landscape bricks; my little joke. After telling me of Ed's death and her lonely winter she says, "And then I walked outside and saw your yard! It's just so pretty and bright and it made me ready to plant some flowers and get a fresh start. I just come out here and look into your yard and I feel better." Now I feel bad about disbanding the bird garden! Maybe I'll give her the blue cat?

On Mother's Day my parents, sister and her family and daboyz came over for grilled flat iron steaks, pilaf, green beans, salad and dump cake courtesy of Amy. Oh, and jello mash. At least that's what we call the jello/cottage cheese/pineapple dessert. A family favorite. We had a good time just sitting around and eating and enjoying one another's company. I'd have liked to spend some time outside but it was too cold and frankly, I have a sore throat as it is. Don't tell anybody. We watched "...Benjamin Button." Insert raspberry here. Still a great day especially with the promise of being outside and more trips to Lowe's, Home Depot and Block's!

I'm going to hop in the shower and start my laundry. Probably bundle up with a cup of joe and sit on the deck even if it is cold cold bright bright.

I'll take in the bird garden and let life roll over me, past present and future. Actually the cold cold bright bright is the ribbon that ties it all together on some days, like today. And I think I'll hang on to that blue cat for a while longer.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Psalm 113:9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


1. Are beautiful without make-up.
2. Rarely feel beautiful.
3. Are tired for approximately 15 years per child give or take.
4. Always take responsibility for every failure, mistake and generally irritating habit of their kids.
5. Learn to pray, really pray.
6. Remember on their skin what it felt like to hold their children at every stage of their lives.
7. Can't be happy at their children's expense.
8. Wouldn't feed their kids they way they feed themselves.
9. Regret lost moments not lost riches.
10. Love with pride, anger, joy, fear, disppointment, tears and every molecule of their being.

pic: Left to Right-Great Grandma Susie, Great Aunt Edith, Great Grandma Meszaros, Gramma expecting Mom

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday Book Review

Have put the woman with the freaky memory to the side; just not enough personal information and I've already read the clinicals on her.
Finished "13 Steps Down" which was just a good old fashion psycho killer book. Enjoyable.
Am halfway through "The Writing Class, A Novel" by Jincy Willett. It's about this woman who teaches an extension course in fiction writing at a community college. Within her group of students, who seem like a great class, there is someone who is playing increasingly mean pranks and making threatening comments on the shared stories they pass around for peer critique. Amy, the teacher, cannot imagine who it is and is almost relieved when the college admin finds out and disbands the class. Her students, however, decide that they want to keep meeting informally to continue the writer's workshop. They all know someone among them is "the sniper" but they've decided they don't care. They have convinced themselves and one another that "the sniper" is harmless and think they've identified the person as a socially awkward middle aged woman within their group. Amy, however, is becoming increasingly convinced that this person is dangerous. But how to keep everyone safe without sacrificing what has become a close knit group of friends who are not only a writing club but support system to one another?
At this point one of the group has not shown up for a scheduled gathering but someone has answered his cell phone and reported, "he seems dead." They caller directs the group to a nearby beach and off they go to search for their friend. And...
I don't know. I'll find out tonight after my shower when I crawl into bed for my nighttime read!
P.S. Book on CD "Size 14 is Not Fat Either" is a murder mystery as well. Seems to be the theme. Interesting, entertaining. Good for listening on the road. I'm on the last disc. Gotta make another library run this week! How much do I love that!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Window Shopping

Do people window shop anymore? The term brings my gramma to mind. She would often head to the mall, lunch at Hudsons, browse the furniture, the home goods and the jewelry counters. But she really didn't shop-shop. I don't remember her unloading bags from department stores filled with goodies and bargains. Maybe an occasional sterling silver bracelet found on clearance. Never huge bags strewn around the living room.
In recent years I have rediscovered window shopping. Sometimes it's for inspiration, sometimes hunting for something specific and usually just a pleasant way to pass the day. It can be a lovely distraction from life be it life's monotony or anxiety. On most weekends the Mr. and I will go to Home Depot or Lowe's to browse whatever items are currently of interest. Now it's outdoor type stuff. I wander around the garden center fingering flower petals and running my hands down the slender trunks of saplings. I go 'round and 'round the seed packets reading their backs, envisioning where I might plant this herb or that flower. The Mr. usually heads straight for lawn furniture and sits in every chair trying to solve the magic formula of price + comfort = ? This window shopping might end in a small purchase like a flat of petunias or a hanging basket. This past weekend it was a bag of wildflower seeds.
It's no surprise to find out that the way my grandparents did things continues to be a good way to live. I've been absolutely sure of some idea and spent a few weeks window shopping only to discover that it isn't the idea I want at all. Fruit trees here! No, not there. What was I thinking? Raised garden beds there! Not there, here! I never thought of it before but this is where it needs to go.
Then again window shopping is a perfect diversion to just daydream. Do we know how to daydream any more? I think it might be a dying art. Try wandering through the clothing department and just enjoy the design, the fabric, the idea of it. And walk away. Bring the daydream back when you've a few moments to close your eyes waiting for the doctor or while dinner is cooking or on a Saturday morning off. It isn't for wishing and hoping for a purchase. It's celebrating within yourself the creativity of the Creator expressed through his creation. Beautiful dresses reflecting God? Yes. Doesn't everything good reflect God?
With the death of daydreams and window shopping has come the birth of discontent and frustration. We are losing the ability to look at, appreciate and move on. I spent hours in childhood driving through streets lined with mansions just for the experience of drinking in the beauty. We walked through grand new model homes. We made regular tours through the Henry Ford mansion, Fairlane. We sat in the chairs in the fine furniture department of Hudsons. My grandmother didn't teach me that these were things I must own, they were things I must appreciate.
When will we rediscover the simple truth that we, in fact, own nothing? For a while I will enjoy coffee on sunny mornings in a beautiful back yard that I call my own. There is nothing that is really my own. I am a temporary occupant of this house I love. God says only to us that we can enjoy all that he has put before us. He is the master artist who invites us to enjoy his painting and we have become petulant children stomping our feet because we want to live inside of it. Window shopping, I am finding, is like being invited to a beautiful dinner. Have you had the pleasure of someone making you a fine meal, setting a table and including touches like your favorite dessert or coffee just the way you like it best? This is life. I am a guest passing through and when I daily find things of beauty and joy I am learning to store it in my heart.
Window shopping might just be a way to daydream of heaven.

Revelations 4: 11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Check Your Drawers

Do you remember when Breaking News meant something happening that was important enough for the network to interrupt Days of Our Lives to report it? Now Breaking News interrupts the middle of the actual news. Give me a break, and not breaking news. It seems that our baseline is now panic.

I blame kitchen drawers. I have old-fashioned kitchen drawers that you have to push shut. Same with my cabinet doors. Not self-closing either. And I have no immediate plans to replace them.

I was watching HGTV the other day and there was a woman talking about her kitchen remodel. Which was, by the way, fabulous. One of the things most exciting apparently to all involved was the self closing drawers. The woman's grandmother was there for the reveal and said laughingly that if she had self-closing kitchen drawers, grandpa would never have known when she was mad. SLAM! It was like a warning shot in their marriage.

I do not necessarily slam drawers to announce my discontent being slightly more straight-forward and choosing things like saying, "You're a freaking idiot." Just kidding. Not really. But I have daydreamed about tearing out my non-self closing cabinetry and replacing it with something new and modern and self-closing and yet old looking like it was recently pulled out of the Ingall's homestead. The swines are fluing, the autos are collapsing, the sky is falling and we worry about the labor intensive drawer closing epidemic sweeping the nation.

So here's what I'm saying. Someday when I get to heaven I am going to ask God how much money we spent in America yearly on things like self-closing drawers. I think, therein, is the secret to our problems. We don't know how to separate what is important from what is luxury. And even if we finally define luxury, we don't know how to deny ourselves luxury. There are somethings that no matter how fabulous, no matter how able we are to afford it; are so ridiculous and unnecessary that God has to be disgusted with us as we fork over money on such foolishness. I spend every evening sitting in a family room with blue carpeting. It's hideous. I am surrounded by dark paneled walls. Also unfabulous. Out-dated blue and white floors in my kitchen. And I have to push those drawers shut constantly. No wonder I'm exhausted.

There's nothing wrong with kitchen remodels and home decorating. I love it, believe me. And as soon as it's feasible, the carpet is being replaced and the walls are being painted linen white. The linoleum will become laminate. My grandma's old blue couch, which I now tell myself is funky in a good way, will be replaced with a soft over stuffed chocolate brown chenille sofa. But I'll still have those old non-self-closing kitchen cabinets.

I think that might be a good reminder that sometimes I forget where to draw the line. And then I forget again. And then I forget all together what is important and what isn't until someone yells, "Breaking news!"

And then I wonder...what just happened?

Pic: Lexi, Sarah/Beany, me & Mac in my archaic kitchen baking Christmas cookies.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


I come from a long line of non-church-attending Christians. Truthfully, I never wanted to be one. Yet I find myself not in church like I once was. The days of Sunday School, Morning Worship, Evening Worship and Wednesdays is gone. Our church is a Sunday morning service only church and that is one of the reasons we chose to attend there. Add to that my weekend work schedule and away fall a few more opportunities to be in church. Finally, I just don't seem to need it like I used to. And this has worried me in light of my non-church-attending lineage. The weird part is that it doesn't worry me in a deep in my spirit kind of worry so much as a discomfort with changing what used to be my definition of devotion. FORSAKE NOT THE GATHERING OF YOURSELVES TOGETHER...

Hours of my life used to be spent in official titled ministry. Now, zero. In the official titled sense anyway. My best friends were my church family. We talked on the phone, vacationed together, worked together in the ministry, ate together. It was a very easy fit to the Acts definition of fellowship. Not so anymore.

I have wonderful church friends and they remain the hub of my world in the sense of support and comfort and the occasional gospel-inspired butt kicking. Still the old comfortable me isn't the same. And sometimes I am uncomfortable with how comfortable that is.

Then again, I have this world church through blogs that I come to several times a day. Lots of people would tell me it can't be but my blog church have been added to that list of fellowship and I need that like I use to need Sunday School and Wednesday nights. Only now, it's every day. I know the names of my friends children and pray for them. Just like the old days. Another church is arising in my life. Work church. A group of believers arising to speak of God and his goodness to one another and to gather at break time to pray. Moments in the morning over coffee sharing our hearts and the scripture that has spoken to us lately. Lunch break conversations about books that have made us think more about our own faith and walking into offices and hearing strains of "I am desperate for you..." quietly playing in the background. Walking out of tense meetings and hearing someone going down the hall laughing and talking out loud to Jesus, "Lord, you're gonna have to shut my mouth extra hard today!"

There are lots of news stories about lots of things but these churches arising from places without steeples are not on the CNN crawl. Maybe that's why I sometimes wonder if this is bonafide church. Sometimes I fear I have FORSAKEN THE GATHERING TOGETHER...

Well, this week I have gone to Metrosouth Church, blog church, work church, e mail church, text message church and home church in my family room. One hasn't been more inspiring than the other. In fact, at work church I raised my hands, cried and had a wonderful sermon spoken to me about my own life by a co-worker when I told her of the healing of the hole in my heart in 1971. Later in the conversation I said that everyone has a God-shaped hole. She replied, "Yes and yours was literally filled with Jesus when you were 4." In all the million times I've considered my healing, I had never envision that hole being filled with God. No pulpit ever produced such renewing of my spirit as that statement.

Back in the 1970s when I was still firmly enmeshed in the 'real' church, we sang a song...

I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God. Born of his spirit, washed in his blood. Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod; I'm a part of the family-the family of God.

Somehow today I understand that more than I ever have even though I spend less time sitting in a congregation than in my entire life. I am truly deeply grateful for the family of God. And I have decided that the blog church, work church, e mail church, text message church, home church is like the 'real' church. A creation of Christ to gather us together to encourage, exhort and love each other. It may even be a maturing church that has marched out of the doors and into the world to claim every corner whether literal or electronic.

I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God...


Proverbs 4:26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Back Yard Plans

1. Herb garden
2. Vegetable garden
3. Wildflower garden
4. Hammock on the patio
5. Fire pit?
6. Sunflowers
7. 500# pumpkins, bought the seeds already!
8. Bird feeders-wild birds, finch, hummingbird
9. Swamp aka pond
10. Coffee on the deck every morning

Friday, May 01, 2009

Friday Book Review

Have just finished reading Sunday Clothes by Thom Lemmon and I'm mid The Woman Who Can't Forget, A Memoir by Jill Price and 13 Steps Down by Ruth Rendell.
So far my library trip this month hasn't exactly lit up my world. Sunday Clothes is a novel about a woman caught between the faith of her father and her fiance. Both Christians of different denominations believing the other is destined for hell, albeit with only slight differences in theology. Ultimately the woman, Addie, chooses to elope with her fiance and join his church. Her father disowns and disinherits her never to speak to her again nor to meet his grandchildren. And the fiance? Cheats on her with another woman from church and leaves her and their kids. Obviously there are lots of twists and turns and side stories along the path of Addie's life. The book is set at the turn of the century and historical history is usually a great start for me. I was looking forward to the examination of Christians turning their passion against one another and what effect that has on families and on society. Unfortunately, as you can see, the book ends up making both of these men of faith into weak and disappointing characters. Neither one seems able to make anything of their relationship with God that effects the real world in a positive way. They only use their church as a means to divide lines and claim superiority. I'm not saying this doesn't have a ring of truth, I only say that at the end it was a disappointment. God loomed large in the first chapters and faded with a sad sigh by the end. Addie's relationship with God was never examined and I didn't feel her pain had resulted in a true understanding of Christ. It was just sad; although I believe the author's intention was to create a character who rises above the petty male religiosity that had surrounded her to make something better for herself and her children. From my perspective, the religious right looked like cruel hypocrites and the only banner being waived was a subtle nod at feminism. Would I recommend it? Not necessarily. Not just because of a disappointing story line and I wasn't even actually offended. It just wasn't a compelling read.
The Woman Who Can't Forget is the memoir of Jill Price. Jill is in middle age now but as a young child her memory became highly acute and she literally cannot forget. She recalls every moment of every day and can bring these memories back intentionally with a calendar date and also continuously as she smells, sees, hears things that trigger her thoughts. Fascinating case. I was drawn to the book when I realized it was written by a woman whose case studies I have read, although she was clinically identified as A.J. Naturally this person's experience is so bizarre one can't help but find it interesting. She brings about some important points such as her extreme and exact memory making relationships challenging because every subtle hurt, indignation, disappointment, even childhood discipline remains in stark reality within her head including the experience of the emotions as though they are happening presently. Without the natural loss of memory we all experience, she is unable to experience distance from her life's traumas. Experiences as a three year old that in adult perspective are not exceptionally traumatic events, like being present at her baby brother's bris, remain a source of terror as it is still experienced in the same intensity as that toddler with the attendant emotions. The emotional memory is not affected by the adult prospective. This makes forgiveness harder and creates more situations in life that make her uncomfortable. Ms. Price has been studied for many years by scientists and doctors and so clinically, there is a lot of information which she shares. The whys and hows of her condition remain a mystery. This book is interesting to be sure but not a page-turner. The clinical aspect is interesting to me but at home, I am really looking for the emotional connection. In this case, I am not finding it. She begins to explain the impact of memory on her life but somehow it isn't brought fully home. Perhaps the author is choosing to keep this portion of herself protected. I want to join her to understand what this has meant in her life personally but just before she steps toward that vulnerability she backs away and returns to clinical data. A worthwhile read? Really, that depends on if the subject matter speaks to you. Rather than a memoir this is a slightly personal account of a clinical study in my opinion. From any perspective, this woman's brain is amazing.
13 Steps Down is plain entertainment. A murder mystery, if you like such a thing, which I do. I'm not expecting any insight spiritual or otherwise. Brain candy, if you will. The main character, Mix, is obsessed with a particular serial killer about whom he has read every book written. He decides to move into the area that the killer stalked forty years earlier and finds that the neighbor, street and house are all demolished and replaced with a new subdivision. Even the street name has been changed. Although this is disappointing he still feels drawn to the area and ends up renting a space in an old mansion from an elderly woman who, he finds out in passing, once knew his murderer idol. The guy is nuts. I'm on page 107 and he has just bonked his date on the head basically because as she was talking away he began wondering what the killer, Reggie, would've thought of her. He becomes basically overwhelmed with a psychotic kind of empathy and decides, clearly, this is why Reggie had to put the hurt on his victims. In short, they were just too irritating to live. (With which I can also empathize.) So now he has this dead chick on his floor in the old mansion of the woman who used to know the murderer and he's feverishly trying to retrace his hero's footsteps to figure out what to do with the body. That's as far as I've gotten. So I guess I don't know yet if I'm recommending 13 Steps Down and I'm certain there are several of you who already know you're not interested! I'll give you my final thoughts next week and in the meantime, keep in mind that there are people out there who are just too irritating to live. Just ask Hannibal Lechter.
And have a happy Friday.