Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zany Friends

I have some zany friends.  Maybe it is because I am more on the serious or reserved side and I need a little zany in my life to keep balanced. Or perhaps I am actually zany too but just hide it well.

One thing about having zany friends is that you can find yourself in some interesting situations and there is usually a lot of laughing involved.

In the picture below, this zany friend and I were on a road trip and found ourselves at the American Gothic house. She insisted that we dress up as if in the famous painting. She and I have had many adventures together, not all of them zany but all of them memorable.  I am blessed to have my friends, zany or not.   

Do you have zany friends or are you the zany one? 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Yesterday


My grandson had his first ever T-ball baseball game.

It seems like not-so-long-ago I was sitting in the bleachers cheering on my son at his adolescent baseball games.  A part of the cadre of parents that become friends for this season of time, warming the seats while as you get excited at your teenage son’s athletic forays.  Jumping up and yelling until you are hoarse as the boy runs, then slides, into home base before the baseball can make it to the catcher’s mitt.  Words of encouragement cheered to all the boys at their turn in the spotlight when the pressure mounts to connect that bat to the ball. 

Yesterday … the baton has been passed to the next generation.  

I am the doting grandma, heart swelling with pride.  Still cheering on words of encouragement as I watch the child-of-my-child go up for his turn at bat.  Still jumping up and yelling until I am hoarse as I watch him run as fast as his little legs can go. 

My once yesterdays are now yesteryears.   Nobody prepares you for this.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

X marks the Spot

X marks the spot...not for buried treasure but for precious refreshment & recreation.  

I spent the weekend away from the regular busyness of my everyday life to travel a few hours for a change in scenery.  

The picture above is just before sunrise over the lake.  At that time of the morning, the air was chilled, and the only thing I could hear were birds calling out their morning songs.  The water was smooth as glass and peaceful.  One couldn't help but to soak in the beauty of nature and appreciate creation.  

My soul was replenished.  

Now I am ready to head back to everyday.  Refreshed, relaxed, and rested.   

What do you do to get refreshed? 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Wisdom

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. 
  ~ Thomas Jefferson          

By three methods we may learn wisdom:
First, by reflection, which is noblest; 
Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and
Third, by experience, which is the bitterest. 
   ~  Confucius                   

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
~ Socrates                  

Wisdom ceases to be wisdom
 when it becomes too proud to weep, 
too grave to laugh, 
and too selfish to seek other than itself.
~ Khalil Gibran    

[quotes from]    

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Victim

It was a Saturday evening in late September. My 13 year old daughter and I were at home alone. Our dog was in the fenced backyard and he was agitated--barking constantly and I just knew neighbors would be complaining with good reason! I went to the back door and called for him to get quiet.

No sooner had I sat down again to watch some television when I thought I heard a noise.  You know how your house will make certain sounds --well this faint noise that I heard was a new sound, so I got  up to investigate.

Just as I entered the entryway, the front door (which had been locked) burst open with a crash.  The wood frame around the door splintered and fell to the floor as five older teens/young 20-somethings came flying into the entryway one behind the other.  They were dressed in dark clothes and had ball caps on their heads. Bandanas were tied around the lower portion of their faces so I could only see the upper half. The first one seemed to the leader and he was screaming out some kind of order to me. "Get on the floor!" or something like that.

I had three simultaneous thoughts run through my head as I kept my eye on the knife he held towards me:
  1. I can't believe this is happening, is it a movie?  
  2. Oh my gosh they broke my door! 
  3. I need to protect my daughter  
  4. What should I do?    

All I can say is that the Lord had his angels encamped around us that evening.  When I think of what could have happened in that scenario and what did transpire in the minutes-that-seemed-like-hours when the punks were there, I know there was some supernatural protection going on.

At the end of the event, my daughter was safe and unharmed in any way, the police had been called, and the perpetrators left my home empty-handed. Although I had been physically hurt it was relatively minor.

Psychologically was another matter.  I made my home a fortress-- having at least 4 locks put on each door and making sure there was a working alarm system.  The system was always on - and the house  d was always locked up tight.  I didn't want to let my children out of the house.  [That did not fly so well with them.] My every thought was consumed with being safe, getting safe, staying safe.   It was crazy.

After a few months, I had worked through the incident and I got mad.  How dare someone invade my home - my safe haven.  I decided that I was NOT going to be a victim and live as a prisoner within my own home and mind.  I loosened up on the alarms and most locks, only using them after everyone was in for the evening. [Much to my children's relief.]  I forced myself to go out.

It was not easy at first.  I had to prove to myself that I was not a victim.  Why should I have to pay the consequences and for someone else's bad behavior.  As time went on it was easier and easier.

The physical wounds healed pretty quickly.   The psychological wounds took longer and may never go totally away.  They are buried deep within.  This happened nearly two decades ago and still my pulse has quickened from just recording it briefly here.

Today, I live  pretty safely. I stay aware of my surroundings.  Yes, I am a little anxious at times  especially when I hear an unknown noise. Bad things have happened to me and around me... but I am not a victim.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Upkeep

Owning a home has the unfortunate consequence of upkeep.  The older the home the more the upkeep there is to do.  And unfortunately, every year my home gets a year older.

Here is some of the upkeep that I need to do this year on my home (I am sure I am forgetting some of it)

  • clean out the gutters
  • re-mulch the mulched areas of yard
  • remove and replace bushes/plants that did not make it through the harsh winter
  • change the filters in the heater/air conditioner
  • shampoo carpets ( replace carpets within a few years) 
  • inspect roof and make any necessary repairs 
  • paint inside walls this year or next 

Sometimes I wish I could wave my wand and let everything be done.  

Or twitch my nose like Samantha.  

Then I wake up to reality.  And I do the next best thing.  

I call my son.  

What is your least favorite upkeep chore around the house? 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Talent


I have talent a mile wide and an inch deep.  As a kid I wanted to try my hand at everything.  I didn't actually try everything,  but I did try many things... and I was pretty good at several of them.

But I never stayed at one talent long enough to become an expert.  I always wanted to move on to learn something else.  To become a sort of Jill-of- all-talents.

I danced.  I took tap and ballet classes.  When I became older I added some jazz classes and I also did some ballet on pointe.  I took acrobatics and helped with the young classes.

Then I moved on.

I went the musical way.  I began instrumental music classes.  I chose the trumpet because my grandfather and mother before me had played the trumpet.  My grandfather played gigs in nightclubs as a young man and my mother told me stories of when she played in her high school marching band. I wanted to continue the legacy, so I learned to play the trumpet. I learned on my grandfathers trumpet that had been passed down to my mother and now to me.

Within a few years I decided to learn guitar and I took lessons at a community class given at our library.   Years later when I had children, I bought a piano and made sure they took lessons-- and I learned with them.  

Artistically, I tried my hand at pottery, stained glass, painting, and drawing.  I learned to crochet and to knit.  I did needlework to hang on my walls.  

Athletically, I played volleyball and I swam.  

In college I was known among friends as the queen of theory- I had a good grasp of the several theorists we had to know and their respective theories.  I also had a knack with APA.   When a friend needed help strengthening a paper with theory or had questions about how to cite something they would come to me for advice.  Could that be my talent??  

I never focused on one thing and did it so well to be known for that talent.  Instead I dabbled along and had a well-rounded life doing a little bit of everything and learning an appreciation for everything.

So I have no real talent...just experiences.  But oh, what a wonderful life.

What is your talent?  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Success

How do you define success?

The accomplishing of a goal?  The attaining of wealth?  Or perhaps fame?

I wish there were a clear formula for the road to success. Do a, b, and c and success is guaranteed!

I may not always accomplish my goals.  I may not become wealthy and I don't think fame is on my horizon.


I can always give my best effort to whatever I am doing.
I can be present when I am with my family and friends.
I can guard my heart and mind from negative, unhealthy thoughts.
These are the ways that I can be successful.

Life is messy, and at least in my case the road to success always seems to be under construction. There are ditches to crawl out of,  detours to take, and delays to wait out.

For me, success might be defined as simply doing my best.

How do you define success? 

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Read

I am a reader. 
At my place there is plenty to read. 
I like to read. I teach others to read. 
I read, read, and read some more. 
What do you like to read? 


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quotable Quayle

The 44th Vice President of the United States was Dan Quayle.  He served from 1989 - 1993 alongside President George H.W. Bush.    Regardless of whatever good Quayle accomplishes, he will forever be linked to a spelling bee and spelling the word "potato" incorrectly.  Dan Quayle would take a few (to be generous) dings in his intelligence factor.

We all have our days. We all say things without thinking.  But it seems that Quayle continued to add evidence to the pile that he was a bit of a fool.  What follows are some of his quotes.  See what you think.

[This blog post is purely for entertainment sake and does not reflect any bearing on my political leanings.  Let it be noted that I am very glad that the media does not quote every stupid thing that comes from my mouth!]     

"I love California.  I practically grew up in Phoenix."

"It isn't pollution that is harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."

"I have made good judgments in the past.  I have made good judgments in the future." 

"It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago."

"A low voter turn out is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."

"It's a very good historical book about history."

"I understand the importance of bondage between parent and child."

Which of these quotes do you think tops the charts as sounding most idiotic?  

Quotes from Brainyquote

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Pottery

In lieu of a bridal shower for my future daughter-in-law (which she was adamantly against), my daughters and I had a little celebration for her at a local pottery studio followed by lunch.  We invited her mom, grandma and a couple other close friends.  

We spent a couple hours trying to be crafty -- some were more artsy than others- while we painted our pottery.  When we finished the pieces needed to be left at the studio so they could be fired.   A few days ago, I went and picked up some of our handiwork and took this picture before I delivered the pieces to the owners.  I think we did a pretty good job if I say so myself.

It was a fun Girl's Day Out and a way to make the bride-to-be feel special in a way that honored her wishes.   Our pottery may not be masterpieces, but they are special because they hold memories of this day.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Only Once

Only once I hope I come home from work to find my 70 year old father-in-law high up in a tree pruning. We both were at a risk of a heart attack that day!

Only once I hope I leave the house without breakfast or plans for lunch on a day scheduled with meetings after work.  I was awfully hungry!

Only once I hope I experience five punks breaking down my door and rushing in threatening me with knives as they attempt to rob me. Some surreal moments.

Only once I hope I lose my cool, raise my voice and argue with the customer service representative.  It is not worth it.

Only once I hope I hold on to unforgiveness and allow bitterness to take root in my heart. It hurts me far worse than anyone else.

Only once will I be too shy, too insecure, or too scared to try something a blogging challenge for example.

Do you have an only once? 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Nuptials

Nuptials (noun, plural)  a marriage ceremony; wedding 

In approximately one month I will be celebrating the nuptials of my third and youngest child.  Having gone through this process of being the mother of the bride/groom three times now,  I am definitely more at ease this time around.  Like having and raising children -- sometimes you relax a bit more the longer you've been doing it.  

With each child you have, it seems to get easier to parent.  Or maybe you just don't care aren't  as uptight the longer you parent.   I have found that with my children's nuptials, it was the same way.  I went from highest level of stress to being very at ease with each subsequent wedding. 

I'm over simplifying the analogy, I know.  Each child has their own preferences & personality and each child along with their intended made most of the decisions for the nuptials.  

The Wedding day is a special day that is all about the Parents  Bride and Groom.  But we know that the real deal happens after the day is over and the marriage begins to be negotiated lived out.  Regardless of what type of nuptials, my hope for my children is that in their marriages they always experience love, grace, and joy. 

Wedding One: 
Being the oldest and first to marry, Child One had to endure her mother and father's desires for a very traditional Greek wedding with almost no expense spared.  This fit her well, as she loves to party, spend our money, enjoy the finer things.   The ceremony was in high church and lasted about 40 minutes with several significant parts. The priest officiated.  There were over 500 guests- mostly friends of the parents, and  it was followed by a sit down dinner reception that lasted until the wee hours of the morning.  There was lots of food, alcohol (including ouzo, mixed drinks, and beer) dancing, and even some plate-smashing.  
Stress-level rating on a scale of 1-5:  5 

Wedding Two: 
A few years later Child Two decided it was time to marry her beloved.  She did not want the same type of nuptials that her sister had.  She is not as extravagant as her sister and instead wanted something simple. There were no objections as the expense stress of Child One's nuptials were still hurting remembered. This wedding was held in the groom's church with the minister officiating. It was a lovely church.  About half of the 200 guests were friends of the bride and groom, and the remaining guests were extended family and some good friends from each parental side.  The reception was within an hour of the 20 minute ceremony at a local hotel's ballroom.  There was a buffet followed by some dancing.  A few hours later, the bride and groom left and we kicked out everyone else the reception was over.    
Stress-level rating on a scale of 1-5:  3

Wedding Three:
A couple years have passed by and finally now it is time for Child Three to make the plunge into marriage-hood. This wedding is being planned and financed mostly by the groom and bride themselves by their choice.  They don't want to have to listen to anyone want it done their way.  They think it is stupid to spend too much also prefer to spend less money on the nuptials.  They first considered eloping, then a destination wedding with just the two of them.  After pleading and crying I am thankful their final decision is to have a ceremony that is close by with just a few people.  The final details will have them marrying casually in a local park being officiated (legally, I made sure) by a childhood friend of my son.  Dressing up is optional  is casual - sundresses, capri's, shorts even.  The guest list is less than 100 which  includes the immediate families, a few extended family members, and a few good friends of the couple.  Following the short ceremony will be a BBQ reception in the park.   The menu includes hamburgers, steak, and plenty of beer to drink.  In case of rain, there is a contingency plan with a friend's nearby restaurant.  A few weeks after the nuptials, the bride and groom will fly to an island in the Caribbean.  There they will relax and enjoy themselves.    
Stress-level rating on a scale of 1-5: 1

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Microwave Popcorn

Have you ever had popcorn burn in the microwave? Leave the little folded package in too long and you have a stinky mess.

Well, this is the story of the day I came home from to find a bag of burnt microwave popcorn on bench outside the front door. 

To set the scene, I had left my 3 children home while I was out—the youngest at the time was 11 years old and his sisters were 2 and 4 years older than him. They were all doing their own  thing that afternoon and  I was gone not longer than 2-3 hours.   The rule of the house is that no one cooks when mom is away. 

After seeing the burnt popcorn bag outside, I was a bit angry because the kids knew not to use the stove when I was not there. I did what any mom would do- I went to interrogate the guilty parties.  My son was the alleged culprit—darn kid said he was hungry!  He decided that using the microwave—especially for 3 minutes or less --- did not constitute cooking.  “Besides,” he said, “technically it was not using the stove.”  His story was that somehow the popcorn burned and it had stunk up the place so he put the bag outside.   I reprimanded him to be safe and responsible and figured no harm done. Case closed. 

Mothers of teens and pre-teens: Always ask the unasked questions!  Always assume there might be more!  My advice is to add on to every interrogation, “….and what else?”  

You see, as Paul Harvey used to say, "Here’s the  rest of the  story…”

A few days later as the family was talking, one of my girls revealed a little bit more. As we were talking, she says…”you know, it was right after the firemen were here.”

Say what? 


Here?   When? 

Oh yeah....they were here.  As the popcorn began to burn in the microwave that day it began to smoke.  The bag actually caught on fire (quickly put out).  It set off our monitored smoke/theft alarms and the sirens began to blare through the neighborhood.  The fire department was automatically called and the firetrucks came sirens on and all to the house. 

For the fire. 

Of course by the time they got there all they found was a scared young boy, his teenage sisters, and a burnt bag of microwave popcorn. 

Had my girls not slipped and let it come out in natural conversation, I might have never known the fire department had been to the house that day.

And that is the rest of my microwave popcorn story.

Have firemen been called to your house over popcorn?  

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Lipstick

What do you notice with the picture above? 

If you noticed there are three shades of lipstick, you would be right.  

If you noticed that 2 lipsticks are nearly used and 1 still has a good amount, you would be right.  

If you noticed a frustrated consumer sitting at the side, you would be right.  You would also have super-hero sight.  

Why do cosmetic companies insist on changing their shades and not continuing with the hues that they have already developed?  It seems with each new season companies roll out a new line of colors and get rid of last year's shades.  

By golly,  I LIKE the shade of lipstick that I use.  And every year I have to find a new shade!   

Granted all three of these lipstick shades are very close in color-- but not quite.  And that "not quite" can change a whole way that one looks.  How would you like it if the closest you can find to "yummy plummy" is "mauve mania" or some other cousin in the same color family --"magnificent mauve"?   Worse yet --- what will be waiting at the counter when it is time to replenish my stock?   

So if I were a beauty queen and asked the question of what I wish for the world-- you just might hear me say "Consistent Lipstick Shades that never retire."  

After World Peace of course. 


Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Kindness

A warm smile is the universal language of kindness. 
    ~William Arthur Ward   

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. 

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson  

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others;
for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; 
and for poise, 
walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. 
~Audrey Hepburn      

Constant kindness can accomplish much. 
As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes 
misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility 
to evaporate. 
~Albert Schweitzer 

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jury Duty

Jury Duty.  Not exactly on my list of favorite things to do.

What does it conjure up ?  LA Law, Perry Mason, maybe Law & Order ?  Do you want to be sequestered?  Sounds possibly exciting.  

The last time I was called to be in the pool for jurors was several years ago.  I didn't get chosen to sit on the jury, but I did have to listen to the prosecutor and defense lawyer explain the upcoming case.  It was actually quite interesting.  A man went to a dancing bar and got angry with another over a girl. He left the bar and went out to his car where he had a bat.  He took the bat and beat the other man with it as he left the bar.   Almost a county song.

After being questioned by the lawyers, they chose who they wanted to sit on the jury.  I didn't get get to sit--but I was okay with that.

Now the opportunity was back again.  Ugh,--- don't get me wrong.  I appreciate our system of justice in the United States and I realize there needs to be a jury of peers for it to work. I just don't want to be one of the peers.  I don't want to take off work to be available.  [They do pay us $7.50 per day for our trouble Whoo Hoo! ] I don't want to hold the fate of someone in my hands, especially if the alleged crime is severe.

But I got the notice to serve.  To do my civic duty.  Show up or have a warrant put out on me.

For one week I called the courthouse every evening to see if I needed to go in.  Thankfully each night I got the message that there were no trials scheduled for the following day. Yay!

So...I was a good citizen and did my civic duty.  I served my time as a potential member of the jury pool.  And now I am done--without ever having to actually go in.   Hopefully it will be several years before my turn comes up again.

Have you ever served on a jury?   

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Iguana

Let me introduce you to Prince, the interesting fellow in the image above. He lives in the classroom of a friend of mine.  Prince has lived among people, specifically children, for most of his life. He is very comfortable with noise, talking, and movement. Prince enjoys being a people watcher. Prince is pretty mellow and has character. He is beloved. I'm told he is about 30 years old which is old even for iguanas in captivity.  

Here are some other facts about iguanas: 
  • In the wild iguanas live about 10 years 
  • Iguanas are herbivores - Prince likes to eat kale, squash, cucumber and the occasional tomato 
  • Iguanas are climbers and left out of his cage, Prince has been found atop tall bookcases 
  • In some countries iguanas are considered invasive species

    I hope that you enjoyed meeting Prince, the iguana! 

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    H is for Home

    A few years ago the adage "Home is where the heart is"  was again made clear to me when I returned to the town of my childhood for a visit.

    I was feeling nostalgic and had the urge to go back to my roots to see the sights from when I was a child.  I had moved away from this town when I was eight years old.  What I discovered is that we often idealize and make grand the things from our younger years.  Perhaps it is because we are small when we are young and everything around us seems large.

    My childhood home was a good sized nice home - one of the nicer homes in the area according to my eight-year-old egocentric self.  I remember the place fondly. Playing in the yard, having my own bedroom, neighborhood friends coming over to visit, and countless hours having fun (an probably arguing too) in all the rooms of this house.  It was tragic when I learned we had to leave. I did not want to pull up stakes and move away to another house in another state, but when the time came but there was no other choice. The family moved.

    Of course, I acclimated well and came to love my new location just as much and more than the previous. I had been back to visit once the old neighborhood only once before about six months after we moved. Now several decades have passed. I looked forward to seeing my old home.

    My sister and I made this visit and went to the street where we had lived.  It had changed some as I expected it would after several years. Then I saw our old home.  Still on the corner. Only it looked really small.  Nothing like the large house in my memories. Perhaps it was fate-- the house was currently vacant. That gave my sister and I the opportunity to get out and look around without looking suspicious.  I didn't want to get arrested for peeping!

    We  circled the house and explored the front and back yards. The back yard.  Where I spent hours playing. It looked foreign to me.  I wanted to see myself chasing a ball through the dandelions or climbing on the swinging on the swing set. But it was sterile. Just grass and cold chain link fence.
    We peeked through the windows.  I imagined that I would have warm feelings as I looked through the living room window.  But I didn't.   I had no feelings at all.   This did not seem like the home I remembered.  Oh yes, it had the same architectural features and I recognized the layout an the wood doors.  But it was just building material.  A skeleton.  Not warm & fuzzy.  It was cold.  Waiting for a family to come and make it a home.

    That's when it was clear.  A house is just a house.  A home is a place where family or loved ones are. A place where you feel safe and loved.  My memories of this place are not here with the tangible--- they are in my mind and heart.

     Are you making memories in your home today? 

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    G is for Greece

    We're traveling today to the country of Greece. I've been several times and lived there for a few years even.  My last trip was a couple years ago. The country is going though some difficult economic times, but the people of Greece are full of hospitality and the country is absolutely lovely.  History and culture abound in Greece! Are you ready for a short tour ?  

    First Stop Athens: 
    Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece.  One famous area is the acropolis, or the high hill on which many famous ruins are located. The Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess Athena. It was built in 438 BC.  Today's pollution is crumbling the marble that held up for thousands of years, so they are restoring as they are able to.  The Parthenon is shown below in the upper left picture. The bottom picture is of the acropolis with the Parthenon lit up at night from the roof-top bar of our hotel a few miles away. In the picture on the upper right is the Erechtheion temple, completed in 406 BC and dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. This "Porch of Maidens" or Caryatids is made up of six female draped columns.    

    Next Stop - Azoros, a mountain village
    Traveling north from Athens, we stop in a small village near the foothills of Mount Olympus.  The air here is clean and fresh and the people wholesome.  Most villagers are farmers and shepherds. The village has a town square with a church, a cafe, a few other stores to pick up daily needs. Village life is hard work but it is a good life.  The picture below overlooks the village from a hill outside the village.

    Next Stop - Katerini, a small city on the east coast 
    Still going north, we drive over to the other side of Mount Olympus and towards the coast.  Katerini is a mid-sized city, the biggest in it's region of Pieria (sort of like county).  It is about 35 miles south of Thessalonica, the second largest city in Greece.  There is retail, manufacturing, and many industries here to keep Katerini town going.  It is about 3 miles from the Thermaic Gulf, a part of the Aegean sea, and the picture below is at the shopping district of the beach area. 

    Final Stop - the Aegean Sea 
    We will end the tour with a dip at the beautiful clear waters at the beach near Katerini.  You can't go to Greece and not visit the beach.  Mainland Greece is a peninsula so beach is unavoidable!  There are also hundreds of islands available to visit. There are public and private beaches, beaches with different kind of sands, beaches with rocks and ones with shells. The picture below is of a private beach area of friends of mine.  The water is cool and clear. You do have to be aware of the occasional jelly fish, However, on a good day you can see dolphins frolicking a few hundred yards from where you are standing or swimming. Such a awesome sight for a landlocked Midwestern gal like me!    

    That is the end of the tour today.  I hope you enjoyed this mini-travel to Greece with me.  You must go some day and see it for yourself.  Pictures do not give the beautiful surroundings justice.

    Monday, April 7, 2014

    F is for Fallen Heroes and Firefighters

    A tragic event happened in late February that makes me pause and reflect. 

    Heroes - those men and women who daily wear the uniform and prepare to put their lives on the line to keep the community safe.  Firefighters, law enforcement officers, and on the national front our military – these men and women are heroes.

    One cold early morning in February, the residents in an apartment complex were awakened by a loud noise.  Not knowing what it could be, someone called 9-1-1 and emergency personnel were dispatched.  First on the scene, firefighters discovered the outside balcony walkway to the second floor apartments was in the process of collapsing. The firefighters began evacuating the residents.  All residents made it to safety, however the walkway collapsed and a firefighter who had been rescuing others ended up losing his life.      

    This fallen firefighter was a 23 year veteran firefighter. He gave his life to help others to safety.  Our firefighters and our police risk their lives daily to rescue strangers.  They are heroes in my eyes.

    It is only the 2nd time a firefighter has died in the line of duty in my community according to the local news source – the last time being over 20 years ago. The US Fire Administration National statistics state 101 firefighters died in 2013. Already in 2014 there have been thirty-three firefighter fatalities. These heroes often leave behind families with minor children.  To help donations are solicited and can be given generally or to a specific family.  Check out the National Fallen Firefighter Fund for more details.   

    In my community, flags were lowered half mast for a month. A memorial was held for the fallen firefighter. Firefighters from all over the state came to pay honor – the brotherhood of firefighters was definitely evident. 

    I have not had to use the services of the fire department unless you count the time I came home from work to find them at my home and my son looking sheepish (but that is another story for another day). The police have given me service a few times, sad to say (again, stories for other days). I am thankful for these community servants and appreciate their willingness to put their life on the line for my safety. 

    So pause for a moment. Honor our heroes, especially our fallen ones.  Thank our community servants.  Say a little prayer for their safety when their firetrucks or police vehicles pass by or you hear a siren.  Every time they show up for work there is a possibility of their life in danger – for our sake.   

    Have you thanked firefighters or the police lately? 

    Saturday, April 5, 2014


    "If you are going to achieve excellence in big things
    you develop the habit in little matters. 
    Excellence is not an exception,
    it is a prevailing attitude."

    ~ Colin Powell  

    Friday, April 4, 2014

    Disappearing Diamond

    While taking a walk one afternoon with my younger children I happened to notice that the solitaire diamond was gone from my engagement/wedding ring set.  Upon closer examination I realized that the prongs had become worn or loose and therefore the diamond must have slipped out at some point whereabouts unknown.  You can imagine my distress!

    But the distress of my children was even more surprising.  At first I thought it was a bit strange for children under the age of 7 to be so upset at a ring.  But then they asked a heart revealing question. "Does this mean you and Daddy will have to get divorced?"

    In their child minds, the ring symbolized marriage.  If the ring was broken, then the marriage must be broken as well.   I assured them their daddy and I were not going to get divorced.  

    Lesson of the day: Regularly inspect your rings for wear!   

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

    Cable TV

    After many years of having and enjoying cable TV, I have now opted out. Definitely there are some good things about cable TV. For example, besides educational programming sometimes you can only see certain sporting events or pop culture shows if you have a cable subscription. But for me and my household, we will be finding our entertainment elsewhere.

    These are some things I do not like about cable TV and the companies that run it:

    • being lured by short term discounts that are tied to 24 month contracts
    • having to pay outrageous prices
    • having 200+ channels but regularly watching only 5-6 at most 
    • dealing with a customer service department that, more times than not, is lacking 
    • having to buy a whole tier or package of channels that you aren't interested in because there is one channel out of the 30 that you do want  
    • feeling pressured to bundle with other services if you want to save money 
    • experiencing intermittent outages in service, especially during storms or the Word Series
    • discovering that being a loyal customer is not valued - to get the really good deals you must be a new customer
    There are times when I miss having cable, but with an antenna in my area I can pick up three national networks.  There is always the option of looking into satellite service, too.  However, I am finding that I really don't watch the television much anymore. 

    Someday I may go back to cable. By then I will be a new customer again and be able to cash in on some lucrative deals.  Then again-- I probably won't ever go back to cable TV.  

    How do you watch television? 

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014


    This little bunny lives by me.  I'll call her Betty.  Who knows?  She may be related to the Easter Bunny! Betty has left evidence in my yard as she burrows for her home. Little tufts of fur can be seen occasionally floating on the wind or stuck on some nearby weeds. Once when moving some fallen leaves away from my house, a handful of baby bunnies no bigger than my fingers scurried away.

    Here are some facts about bunnies:

    • More than half the world's population of bunnies live in North America
    • A female bunny is called a doe, a male bunny is called a buck
    • Baby bunnies are called kits 
    • A bunny has 28 teeth and those teeth never stop growing 
    • Bunnies are recognized as symbols of fertility & rebirth and often associated with Easter and spring 
    Betty and I can peacefully coexist as long as she does not bother me or chew on my plants too much. Bunnies may be cute and cuddly to some, but to me-- the best bunny is a chocolate bunny!  

    Do you have cute and cuddly creatures living in your yard?  

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    April Fool's Day

    April 1st known as April Fool's Day is a day that is fun for some people and yet strikes fear in others. Observed in many countries around the world, this day is not a holiday but a cultural tradition. How do you face April Fool's day?

    As a child I used to love April Fool's Day.  I would try to think up little pranks and tricks to play on my mother and my sisters.  For some reason, I never payed any on my father!

    This was back in the day when telephones were adhered firmly to the wall.  I would somehow get the phone to ring with no one on the other end.  I would then yell to my mother that it was a call for her. She would have to set down whatever she was doing to come to the kitchen (where the phone was located). I would be snickering in the next room as I listened & watched her puzzlement as she tried to figure out who was trying to call her.   Hilarious then, not-so-much now.

    Or I would hide a shoe from each pair of shoes in the closet so that the wearer would have to search and search until they realized it was a joke.   Yeah, I know, I am not so creative.
    As an adult who works with children during the work week, April Fool's Day is a day that I hope falls on a weekend. I quasi-dread it.   It is a day that one needs to be alert, to be attentive. You never know what kind of prank the children will try to pull on you.   You may find something on your chair-- like a tack, piece of gum, or a whoopee cushion.  Usually it is the latter   ~ they love to see you make embarrassing noises.   They may bring you treats--but be careful about eating them!  Who knows what the treat may contain.  

    There are some great April Fool's Day tricks you can play on kids, but you have to be careful.  Some children are more sensitive than others and find it harder to take a joke than others.  It is best to play it safe and go very mild with any April Fool's day pranks.

    With younger children I have surprised them by telling them I have made them brownies.  I then give each child a letter "E" that is cut from brown construction paper.  "Brown e's" -- get it?    Only because I am nice will I have some brownies of the chocolate kind  to give out later to soothe them.

    I have taken children on a hunt to find the Looflirpa bird. It is a rare bird that is only around in spring. It is somewhat like going snipe hunting.  With older children one needs to be a bit more sophisticated - don't think looking for the rare bird will work with them!

    Be vigilant wherever you happen to be this April Fool's Day!
    There may be a cup perched precariously above the door you are about to enter, you may find the lid to the salt shaker unscrewed as you salt your fries, or you may find your tennis shoes mysteriously tied together after sitting for a time.  You have been warned!

    Have you been a party to any April Fool's Day pranks ?