Monday, November 28, 2011

My sister said, "I won't be the same."

My mother & my two sisters went to Philadelphia to visit my nephew for Thanksgiving and the trip turned out to be more of an adventure than any one could have planned.
I was told by both sisters, upon their return, "Mom is a horrible back seat rider/driver".  This is something I already knew but in my case, she's usually in the front seat!  She expresses her displeasure with your driving abilities in a myriad of ways.  She grabs the overhead handle when you round a curve faster than 5 mph, she has a sudden, mildly audible, intake of breath ( read as gasp) when she believes you're not going to stop in time or the lane change, you or the driver in front of you just executed, was too close or unnecessary. Those are her most annoying quirks, unfortunately there are other smaller things such as, brake pedal operation on the passenger's side, constant glancing at the speedometer, and of course the caring comments of concern a mother makes--"Aren't you going a little too fast?", "Don't you think you're following a little too close?" "Why are we going this way?". In my mother's defense, she is nearly 71, has clear vision in only one eye and has lived alone for over 25 years. To say the least, she is accustomed to her way of doing things, including driving.
But this wasn't the worst part of the story, they were verbally accosted by a "gentleman" with a history of mental illness while attempting to take family photos in front of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.  The streets in the city of Brotherly Love were not very loving at that particular moment.  The man was of course vulgar but also physically threatening, so much so that my youngest sister ran into a nearby store, dragging mom behind her, shouting for someone to call the police.  She then went back to the street to grab our middle sister, who was engaged in "conversation", if you will, with the gentleman and dragged her into the store as well.  The enraged man charged into the store after them.  No one inside the store had bothered to call the police (apparently an every day occurrence?), but fortunately there was an off duty police officer in the store who heard the commotion and took charge of the situation.  Physically removing the man from the store and then doing his best to calm my family and reassure them the incident was over.  He was kind enough to escort them back to their hotel and apologized more than once for what had just happened to them.
As you might suspect, once they were safe inside their hotel room, the tears and emotions flowed.  Every one was glad to be safe and glad to be headed for home the next morning.  My middle sister said, "I can't explain it to you.  I can't put into words how it felt but I can tell you, I won't be the same because of it."
I can certainly understand how she feels, I have experienced a traumatic life changing event.  I'm sure that others who have experienced a high emotion situation feel the same, you can't explain it, you just feel it and you know it has changed you.
I am thankful my family is home safely and I pray that man will find the help he needs before he traumatizes others.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pride smashed :(

Even though it is early, my Christmas cactus was blooming a couple of weeks ago. I was so proud there were 8 blossoms on it, I took this picture.
Last year it only had 2 buds and one of them fell off before it bloomed so I was ecstatic when I saw this years crop of buds; Marty even congratulated me!

Last week I was near Pittsburgh for work on Friday; I have a niece who lives on the south side.  I called her and asked if I could stay over with her & her mom on Saturday night.  It so happened there was a hockey game scheduled, so it would be a great night at their house, pizza, Pepsi and the Pittsburgh Penguins, darn near a perfect evening.

As I walked through the door, I glanced to my right and saw her Christmas cactus, also in bloom.  What a coincidence I said, we both have a blooming cactus but unfortunately that is where the similarities ended.

The pride I felt for my cactus, just a few short days ago, was dashed and I was overcome with out and out ENVY!!  I have never seen a cactus that looked like hers and I can't imagine I will ever see another.  I want my cactus to look like hers, I want to know her secret and I want to know it right NOW!

My ex sister in law has a green thumb, there is no doubt about it.  When she and my niece lived closer, I was often quizzing her about her great looking house plants; I admired the profuse crop of cuttings, she had arranged in clever containers on her window sill.  Her outside garden seemed to have constant color and blossoms and her deck always looked so welcoming with all the potted plants arranged ever so perfectly all the way essence, she made me sick with jealousy!

The thing that is so infuriating, she is so nonchalant about it all and always says she doesn't do anything special, just gives them lots of TLC.  Well in my book of gardening tips, TLC means "Throw Lame Cactus" out!  Honestly though, she is great, she shares tips and offers ideas, even sends cuttings home with me but my efforts just don't produce the same results.  I guess it's like baking, we can all follow the same recipe and we'll all end up with a different and unique end result.

Imagine you'd like to see the cactus I'm raving about.........

SEE WHAT I MEAN....absolutely amazing huh?  She did tell me the plant is old, she got it the December my niece was born and she'll be 17 in 10 days.  Perhaps there's a chance in 15 more years that I'll have a show like this but I'm not holding my breath :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spooky night

As I got out of the truck after work the other night, I could hear a barred owl talking.  I love that sound and where I live, out in the sticks, I can hear him so clearly.  I stood there and listened, he called a couple more times and then he was silent.  I went in the house and got the owl call, tried to get him to answer me back with no luck.  But I did notice the early evening sky at that point, dusk I guess you could say.   I snapped this photo with my little pocket camera and was really pleased with how it turned out. That night the photo made me think of Halloween and the headless horseman from Sleepy Hollow :)  It was getting too cool to stand on the deck without a coat so I went inside.
Today, with Thanksgiving just a couple days away, this photo reminds me of all the little things we are blessed with each day. I'm thankful for where I live, I love it and it's events like the one mentioned above that make me glad to come home every night and each time I'm away.  Travel is great but home is better !

Friday, November 18, 2011


This is probably one of those "you had to be there" stories but I hope I can convey a bit of the hilarity without offending anyone.
I am in Pittsburgh doing some errands for work, one stop was the Dept of Revenue office.  I needed to use the restroom before I left so I asked if a public facility was nearby, "Just down the hall to the right", I was told.  The halls in this building are quiet, so quiet that my sneakers sounded like stacked pumps as I walked down the hall to the right. 
I am in the stall, doing the things you do there.  Upon completion of the tasks, I reach for the tissue and notice that a nearly empty roll is laying atop the fixture.  I am someone who uses all of the tissue on a roll, so I pick it up, place two of my fingers inside the paper tube to help unravel the tissue.  As I make my first revolution around the partial roll, I sneeze.  I reflexively bring the hand with the tissue on it toward my mouth, in so doing, I knock the paper tube off my other hand.  The tube hits the floor flat, right in front of my feet and promptly rolls under the stall door out into the public restroom!! 
I look down at the tissue lying on the floor, like a "white carpet" path out of the stall and I begin to laugh, out loud.  What are the chances of that roll hitting perfectly flat on the floor and without so much as a whisper of wind, roll under the door and out of the stall?  
Still seated and needing tissue, I compose myself and gently tug on the tissue, hoping to pull the roll back into the stall.  It does not work, it does the exact opposite by unrolling more tissue, which moves the roll further away from the stall door.  I can't help myself, I begin to laugh again.  I laugh long enough to bring tears to my eyes and loud enough perhaps, in the funeral home like silence of the halls, to draw a crowd to the restroom door entrance.  I'm laughing again right now, it's still funny.
Anyway, reality comes to my rescue.  I realize there is tissue on the roll in the fixture, I take some, do the appropriate hygiene and exit the stall.  I gather up the runaway roll, dispose of it, wash my hands, peak my head out the door, discover the coast is clear and run out of the building.
I hope your mind's eye can see (don't look at me!) a version of what I saw and laugh and not be offended by too much information. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

He still has baby teeth!

I have had the same dentist for 30 years.  Yesterday he told me he's going to retire this Friday; Congratulations to him and to his family, how great for them, but a little sad for me.  I'm too old to get a new dentist, too old to get a new doctor, and certainly too old to get a new mini skirt; this can't be happening!
The hygienist said she would introduce me to the new dentist.  As I start to get up out of the chair, I'm pulling myself out by grabbing on to the counter, she comes back into the room with my new dentist.  I finish standing up, I extend my hand to shake his and look up to greet him.  He might be, mind you might be, thirty years old; he must still have his baby teeth.  I'm sure the look on my face was a priceless Kodak moment; the kind with your jaw on the floor, your mind searching for coherent and appropriate words to help compensate for the look of astonishment on your face.
He was smooth though, he shook my hand, greeted me and politely asked, "Is everything OK?"  The best I could do was "Yes, pleased to meet you; we're obviously from different generations."  "Oh don't worry" he said, "I'll take good care you and your teeth, now let me help you to your wheelchair!"  I'm kidding about the wheelchair part, but I sure felt like I could have used a cane for support.   
I am likely to experience scenes like this one more frequently,  many of us "boomers" are thinking about retirement and someone has to fill the spots we leave behind.  But, I do hope that I can react in a more "age" appropriate fashion the next time; after all, I am the adult!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What a difference a day makes

Actually it was two days but if I had been johnny on the spot I could have taken a very similar photo Saturday afternoon but instead I was at Jo-Ann's shopping --- foam for cushions on my re-purposed outdoor furniture (photos when I'm done) and Christmas this & that for my planned, notice I said planned, individual Christmas cards.
Friday morning 11/11/11

Sunday morning 11/13/11

Friday, November 11, 2011

Salute to Veterans

I used this photo recently but it is an appropriate photo for today

Veterans Day

I do not know your name, where you're from or how old you are but I do know you.  You decided to join the military because you could not afford college.  You decided to join the military because you could not find a job to support yourself and/or your family.  You decided to join the military because your family has a history of serving our country.  You decided to join the military because you wanted to make a difference.  Regardless of the reason, you decided to join.
Your choice separates you from those you love and who love you.  Your choice at some point may cause you to second guess your wisdom.  Your choice puts you in harms way. Your choice may cause you  to live in a strange land and hear a language you do not understand. Your choice may cause others to call you names and tell you to get out.  Your choice may cost you your life.
My salute to you today thanks you for making that choice.  My salute to you today thanks you for saving your brother while ignoring your own safety.  My salute to you today thanks you for helping, even when it is not appreciated or recognized.  My salute to you today thanks you for being a veteran, for choosing, giving and serving.  My salute to you today thanks you for being active duty, for aspiring to be a veteran and for loving our country enough to accept that you may not come home.

Thank You!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


At one time in my  life I was considered a pretty smart girl, graduated top 10 in my class, advanced placement, college prep classes.  Unfortunately, college never happened, the Army did and then life came along.  I know what I know, but in comparison to the tech savvy kiddos in the world now, I don't know much.  I've worked my way along, changing with the times as needed to fit my job and my life but never seeking out the next cool gizmo.
My nephew just installed a new printer for me, in about 20 minutes.  I had been reading the Quick Start Reference Guide for about a week.  I'm just not comfortable jumping in, afraid "it" will ask me something I don't understand and then I've created a mess. Now that it prints and I know everything is OK, I'm not afraid to play with it, to see what it will do, to see whether or not I can break it.  
He said I could have installed it and perhaps he's right but I just couldn't get over that first hurdle, "remove printer from box" !  I'm kidding, I did have it unwrapped and on the desk.  I also had a fan going because I hate being frustrated and sweating when I'm squeezing behind the desk trying to reach the outlet!!
I admire the youth of today, their willingness to jump in, their fearlessness, their flexible thin bodies, and their "we'll figure it out" attitudes.  But I do worry about not talking to them enough (email me), about not hugging them enough (text me) and about them not knowing the benefits of either one. So, I'll go on being the not so smart aunt; the next cool gizmo will provide another reason for a visit.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What's first?

I have data entry paperwork that I brought home from work Friday night; it remains undone.  I have a kitchen that needs some touch up, floors that need swept and quite honestly, windows that need washed before winter; all of which remain undone.  I have a checkbook to balance, a letter to write and a package to make & send: all of these remain undone too!  There are some mornings that I just want to sit down and cry.  Why am I such a poor manager of time?  I have not been sitting in my chair knitting or reading or taking a nap or just staring out the window, all of which are other things I'd like to get done or do!  What is the secret to crossing off more things on my to do list??  Right now, that's another thing that remains undone :(

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Honoring my mother in law and her country

This pin was proudly worn by my late mother in law.  She came from Germany to the United States of America in November 1953, married to Marty's father and basically, not speaking a word of English.  She became a US citizen and learned the language, tutored by one of her new aunts and by watching soap operas---aaawwww, they do have some value!  She loved this country and after her divorce from Marty's father, she chose to stay here.  She spent her entire life devotedly loving her only child and doing her very best (often working 2 jobs) to provide for him and his future.  One of the last things she said to me, "please take good care of Marty".
I had planned to include this pin on the jewelry table during the estate sale but changed my mind at the last minute.  Looking at this red, white and blue symbol, as I pinned it on my fall coat, a couple of thoughts swirled around in my head.  It's a bit hard to see in this photo but the pin is missing a stone, in the bottom stripe, far right corner and that missing stone is what jumped out at me.  We believe our country is the best and we too work hard to create a perfect life, whatever that may be. But like this pin, there are little imperfections, pieces missing, parts of the journey that do not work out as planned.
My mother in law made a conscious choice to live and work here and accepted the USA for what it had been when she arrived, what it was at the time of her choice and her belief in what it could be, for her and her son, in the future.  We, who are born here, often feel our blessings are entitlements; we often forget that many gave and continue to give their lives for our freedom.  Freedom to make the choice my mother in law made and freedom to make hundreds of other choices daily.  I loved my mother in law; I miss her.  I admired her determination to succeed and her dedication to her family and though I don't often think about it, I love my country too.  It may not be perfect but it's determination to succeed is constantly evolving.  It may have strayed from it's creation based on faith and family but I believe we are realizing, as we struggle with economic and environmental issues, those two premises have value and strength.
On the anniversary of my mother in law's arrival in America, I pray for solid and unwavering faith.  Faith in my fellow man and strength to proclaim the type of faith in the USA that my mother in law displayed, when she chose to make this country, my country, hers.


I found the tickets and now, I honestly don't care what else is missing :)   Of course I will once again, when I can't find whatever it is I'm looking for the next time.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What else is lost

I know that I received my season tickets to the local concert association events for the coming season.  I marked my calendar for the events I didn't want to miss and I know that I put the tickets back in the envelope.  What I don't know, where did I put the envelope?  I've looked for about 30 minutes, I feel the frustration level increasing and  I know that I need to let it go for tonight.  It's late, I'm tired and I'm only going to feel worse because I'm certain my search will continue to be fruitless.  
I read another's blog post about how she could not find "something" she put away for safe keeping.  I smiled as I read her account of the search but I can assure you, I am not smiling now. Someone helpfully suggested she get a notebook and record things as she put them away for safe keeping and I thought that a worthy suggestion at the time.  But as I consider it right now, I'm afraid I won't remember where I put the notebook!  If I can't find the notebook, how will I know what else is lost???