Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R. A. Dick

I have a confession to make.  A few weeks ago, I went to town to run some errands, one being a doctor appointment.  I finished everything on my list with time to spare before appointment.  Not a problem, just find a shady spot and read a book.  But...I didn't have a book.  I know, it's shameful!  What kind of person doesn't have a book in her car or purse for just such emergencies?  I was humiliated, but I did the only possible thing - I went to the library.  I already had a half-dozen library books checked out, so I scanned the shelves for a quick read and found The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R. A. Dick.  The cover was plain red - well worn, the title hand-written in marker over binding repair tape - but it tapped a vague memory of a tv show from my childhood, so I grabbed it up.

Mrs. Muir, a recent widow, purchases a sea-side home previously owned by a sea captain.  The house is available for a ridiculously low price because it is said to be haunted.  And, indeed it is, by the ghost of Captain Gregg, but desperate to escape her overbearing in-laws, Mrs. Muir befriends the sailor and she and her children move in.  The captain becomes her protector and an unusual relationship - something akin to romance in a strange, metaphysical way - blossoms. 

A quick Google revealed that the show starred Hope Lange and Edward Mulhare and ran from 1968 to 1970. The tv version updated the story from turn-of-the-century England to a modern American setting.    There was also a 1947 movie, starring  Gene Tierney,  Rex Harrison and Natalie Wood as Mrs. Muir's daughter; as well as an hour-long radio play on the December 1, 1947 broadcast of Lux Radio Theater with Charles Boyer and Madeleine Carroll.  It was also adapted for the August 16, 1951 episode of Screen Director's Playhouse with Charles Boyer and Jane Wyatt.

The library's edition was the original, published in 1945.  Inside the front cover I found this interesting message that I had never seen before:  This book has been designed in a Victory Format.  Small type and margins produce fewer pages which permit a vital saving of paper and labor in the manufacture of a Wartime book. 

Throughout the book, Mrs. Muir questions the Captain about the after-life he inhabits and why, if he is able to return at will, more people don't do the same.  His answers are thought provoking:

Captain: Only the unhappy return to earth.  The average after-lifer never wants to return.

Mrs. Muir:  But isn't that very selfish?  I mean when they see their relations and friends weeping their hearts out for one word of reassurance and comfort, don't you think they might come back just once to tell them all is well?

Captain:  Why? When all that's wanting is their own faith?  That beats me every time - all those psalm-singing hypocrites who spend half their lives in church, imploring God Almighty to give them wings like doves to fly to Paradise, and when their frinds get their wings, they smother themselves in black crape and refer to the departed as "poor" - there's no consistency in it and no sense!

When she asks for a description of heaven, he answers:   I have no words to make you understand.  It's all the beauty and serenity and nobility you have ever experienced on earth.  It's all your grandest and most generous feelings, and the finest sunsets and greatest music - and then you're only on the fringe of understanding.

I enjoyed the story and comparing it to my memories of the tv show. If you ever find yourself in a reading emergency, run to the nearest library and look for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.  

Monday, May 30, 2011

Freedom Isn't Free

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,

With hair cut square and eyes alert,
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.

                                    - Kelly Strong

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Now That's What I Call Service!

I've been a Schwan's Food Service customer for years.  I like their ice cream and their bbq chicken wings and their shrimp and...and...and..   But this week, what I really like is the delivery dude.   Schwan's advertises that their delivery man is "Your Mealtime Hero".   But they have no idea.

Wednesday was my birthday, and my parents and sister came to visit.  We had a lovely lunch, gifts, birthday cake, reminiscing .... and no toilet paper.  Totally out...not a single square...nada!  Our visit time was limited so we hated to spend 30 minutes of it driving to town for toilet paper.  But three women in the house...we're gonna need t.p.  But wait - three women in the house means three purses.  We scrounged enough little packages of Kleenex to get us through the afternoon, then I called Dave and asked him to swipe a roll or two from the office and bring them home.  I would make a run to town the next day.  Problem solved.

About ten minutes later, the Schwan's truck pulled into the yard.  Totally forgot it was his scheduled day.  He greeted me with "Happy Birthday!  I hear it's your 50th birthday and you're in dire straights," and from under his yellow raincoat he produced two rolls of toilet paper, wrapped in a plastic bag to keep out the rain! What a surprise!  He had been making a sales call at the office where Dave works, and agreed to make a "special delivery" at the next stop on his route.  It was not only service with a smile, but service that had us all howling.  

Schwan's should put that in their ads!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Is Anybody Out There?

Do you keep stats on your blog?  I've tried two different sites for tracking number of visitors, popular pages, etc.  I'm currently using StatCounter, which gives wonderful graphics and maps to show me who is looking at the blog.  The statistics site I used previously basically just told me total number of hits per day, but no detailed breakdown of who those viewers were.  

What I am discovering with this new influx of info is that, although the number of visitors per day is growing, the vast majority of them are from random - and sometimes hilarious - Google searches.  While it's nice to know that the subject variety of our blog is expanding so we are included in more search results, those hits are one-time visitors who either gathered the information they wanted and are never heard from again, or scratched their heads and wondered why in heck Google brought up THAT site. 

Since the first post in October of 2009, this blog has morphed from strictly book reviews,  book-related events, and a campaign to encourage reading together as a couple, to a stream-of-consciousness about my life, my frustrations, my celebrations and some books - it's my therapy.   In spite of that transformation (or because of it?), the number of returning visitors has shown very little growth.  Which brings me to my second question...

Do statistics matter?  Do you write for yourself or to gain an audience?  Do you have dreams of fame and a book deal?  Or do you just want to make a few new friends?  Ok, I know that was more than one question, but it all boils down to the same point.  If a blog publishes but no one is reading, does it still make a sound?

Just Thought You Should Know...

On Wednesday I celebrated my 50th birthday.  It was a milestone for me, an important day in history, a day that will live in infamy.... Ok,maybe not that big.  However, May 25th has been the date of some more historic milestones.  It is the birthday of Mike Meyers, Robert Ludlum, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis was dedicated on that day in 1968.  The Constitutional Congress opened in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787.

May 25th is a red-letter day in sports: 

  • On May 25, 1935, Jesse Owens broke three world records and tied another at the Big Ten Track and Field Championships in Michigan—in just 45 minutes.  
  • On that same day, Babe Ruth hit  the last three homers of his career in a game against the Pirates.
  • New York Giant Willie Mays played his first major league game on May 25, 1951 (went 0 for 5). 
  • On May 25, 1965, Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight boxing title for the first time.  
Some milestones are more serious.  On May 25, 1955, the town of Udall, Kansas, was destroyed by a tornado.  Eighty people lost their lives.

Probably the most famous May 25th event occurred on May 25, 1961 (yes, the very day I was born).  President John F. Kennedy spoke before a joint session of congress.  His speech on "urgent national needs" included this line: 
"First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's My Party!

Today is my 50th birthday so,
 instead of blogging,
 I'll be partying.  I'll be back tomorrow.

In the mean time:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Aging Gracefully - Part V

Part V in a series of musings and ramblings concerning turning 50.  Today's entry is a continuation of my version of "I'm Over All That", based on the book by Shirley MacLaine

I’m over schedules.  Unfortunately, the world doesn’t allow me to be completely over this one – but I’m giving it my best shot.

I’m over playing the piano in public.  It makes me nervous.  It makes me frustrated.  It sucks all the fun out of playing.  So I’m done.

I will never be over conversations and listening.  This is a lesson learned from Dave.   For the majority of our adult life we have been the “new people”.  We’ve spent a lot of time getting to know new people.  Dave taught me to talk to people – even if it’s just the clerk at the convenience store.  Strike up a conversation and listen to what’s being said.  People are fascinating.  This thought is connected to the “rude behavior” section from a couple days ago.  Put down the cell phone, slow down,  and talk to people - more important - listen to people. 

I will never be over words.  I collect words. I have a notebook where I keep my favorite lines from books - strings of words that are more than the sum of the parts.  I am amazed at – and envious of – the ability to piece together common words to create a picture.

I will never be over dogs.  Another lesson learned from Dave.  Dogs are best friends, comforters, companions, healers, and much more.   *Update:  With the addition of Gabby to our household, and the subsequent squabbling between the two dogs, I may be closer to “over it” than I thought.  Update 10/9/11 - I'm over them.  SO SO over them!  I will never voluntarily bring another dog into my home.  So just scratch this one of the list.

Thanks for reading along with my random thoughts on turning 50.  Some of them have been controversial, some of them have been frivolous, but they can really all be summed up in one "I'm over it" thought:

I’m over pretending and I’m over apologizing. - I am a Baby Boomer - born between 1946 and 1964.  I am a registered Republican.  I was a stay-at-home mom.  I am a college drop-out.  All of these statements are true and when you read them, you form a picture of me based on the stereotypes of those categories.  But that's not a complete picture - that's not really me.  

For years i bought into the ideas of what I should be and what I should like based on labels and expectations.   Being "the elevator guy's wife" in small, agriculturally-based towns, I have to censor what I say, even to close friends, because often their husbands are my husband's customers.  Family has their own idea of who I should be, based only on history.  Every time we move, a new community forms their view of me with no history.  Few people have the complete picture, and I've spent a lot of years pretending to be what each of them expected, and apologizing when I wasn't.  But I'm over it.

I'm over pretending to like "classic rock" because that's what's expected of my generation.  I'm over apologizing for listening to light opera and classical music.  I'm over pretending to be anti-everything-Democrat.  I'm over apologizing for not having a "career".  I'm over "dumbing down"  because I don't have a diploma.  I'm over reading books just because they look more intellectual on my blog.  I'm over being anything but me.

The best friend I've ever had was a lovely lady named Wanda.  Her husband wasn't involved in farming so there was no conflict there.  She took the time to ask questions and listen so she knew my history, plus she paid attention to what was happening now so she new my life - she knew me.  And she accepted that with no provisos.  That's a rare quality in a friend.  Although she's been gone more than six years, she left me with the knowledge that the true "me" is a person who is worthy of friendship, and that's the best birthday gift of all.  

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Aging Gracefully - Part IV

"Timeless" by Under the Glass
Part IV in a series of musings and ramblings concerning turning 50.  Today's entry is a continuation of my version of "I'm Over All That", based on the book by Shirley MacLaine

I’m over gossip.  “Refuse to waste time dwelling on the faults of others.” (Nothing's Too Small by Urbanska and Levering)  What is happening in someone else’s life is only relevant to me if I can “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)  Otherwise it’s not my business.

I’m over drama.  Urban Dictionary defines drama as 
1. overreacting or greatly exaggerating the importance of benign events.
2. making a big deal over something unnecessarily.

It has become the lifeblood of teens and the favorite hobby of way too many adults.  I’ve had enough to last at least another fifty years.  Over it, over it, over it!

I’m over “stuff”.    The American Dream has become a nightmare of “possession overload.”   I can’t remember where I heard this saying, but I love it:  “We buy stuff we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” 

While packing for our recent move, Dave and I did some major “shedding” of stuff.  I got rid of things I had kept only because they were gifts, or because they were too good to throw away.  We had a garage sale, gave some to friends, donated some to the thrift store, and made many, many trips to the dumpster.  Although we are now in a smaller house, it gives me a more spacious feeling because I know what we have and I know where it is. (Except the stuff I don’t put back where it belongs, or the stuff I laid down and then forgot…) 

I’m not proposing emptying my house and living in a tent.   I’m proposing exchanging quantity for quality. If I have less, I can have better – and still save money.  The key is in having only things I really like.  Mahatma Ghandi said, “As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, you should keep it… Only give up a thing when you want some other condition so much that the thing no longer has any attraction for you.”   I want the joy of being surrounded by things I love, and the simplicity of having less, more than I want the actual stuff.

Having only things you love can’t be accomplished overnight, unless a) you can afford to refurnish your entire house in one shopping trip, b) you have no possessions you bought just because they were a good deal, or c) you have no possessions you really don’t like but they were gifts so guilt is kicking in.  I have a $12 lamp on my end table that I bought because I needed a lamp and it was a bargain.  In fact, it wasn’t a bargain - it was a cheap lamp that frequently falls apart.  Some day I will replace it with a higher quality lamp that I really like and will be happy with for years.  Then I’ll be out the cost of the new lamp, plus $12.  In the mean time, I still need a lamp on that table so it remains.  Which brings me to my next point…

I’m over “recreational shopping”.   This is how the cheap lamp ended up on my table.  I wasn't lamp shopping, I was just wandering,  looking for "stuff".  Had I been on a purposeful shopping trip to purchase a lamp, I wouldn't have been in Dollar General.  
Shopping as a hobby or as therapy breeds discontent, empties my purse, and fills my house with all that stuff I ended up shedding.  I can walk into Target as a perfectly content woman who just needs to pick up a set of shower curtain rings, and within ten minutes I am certain that my life can not continue without DwellStudio Bird and Blossom decorative pillows.  And I will certainly never find happiness if I don’t have the Tassimo Hot Beverage System in Glamour Red.  Just minutes ago life was good, but now I’m sad because I don’t have all this stuff!

I’ll never be over doing the right thing – even though it has been proven that, occasionally, it will come back and bite you in the ass.  Hypothetically (wink, wink), you could do the right thing at work and it ends up costing you your job.  But still do the right thing the next time.

I’ll never be over creating.  I believe we are made in God’s image and, since He is the Creator, we have an innate desire to create also.  Whether it is writing, quilting, knitting, carpentry, cooking, glass-blowing or party planning – we all have a need to express ourselves.

To be continued...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Aging Gracefully - Part III

"Timeless Books" by Lin Pernille Photography
Part III in a series of musings and ramblings concerning turning 50.  Today's entry is a continuation of my version of "I'm Over All That", based on the book by Shirley MacLaine.

I’m over following the rules and fads of fashion and design. “True style means simply being your own person.” (Nothing's Too Small, Urbanska and Levering)  Let’s face it, my home is not a Better Homes and Gardens layout, and I’m not a supermodel.  At 50, I have accepted those facts and I’m over trying to adorn either of them to impress the clerk at the grocery store, my daughter, or the church committee ladies.  I know what I like, what is and isn't flattering and what makes me feel good about myself.  Good enough.

I’m over spending time on hair styling and make-up.  Not that I’m giving either of them up completely, but I’ve stopped trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, and have refined them both to a quick routine that is as flattering as possible without professional assistance. Too much time and money has been spent trying to retrieve the thick, bouncy hair of my youth. I have come to terms with the fact that I either wear my hair short or look like a balding chipmunk.  As for cosmetics, my theory is that makeup applied incorrectly makes you look older, and as we age, the range of appropriate colors for eyes, lips and cheeks narrows substantially.  I have refined my makeup choices to a few essentials.

I’m over political correctness at the expense of truth.  “I reject your reality and substitute my own,” is one of my favorite Mythbuster lines, and I use it on occasion to humorously avoid admitting I’m wrong.  But I can’t actually create my own reality.  Lowering the standards in schools so that all students are on the Honor Roll looks good on paper, but it doesn’t make them all academically equal.  There’s a difference between sparing someone’s feelings and denying reality.  If I am offended at being called “old” and choose to refer to myself as “chronologically advanced”, that’s fine – but it doesn’t change my age.  “Tami is 50” is still the truth. 

I’ll never be over learning.  I didn’t finish my bachelor’s degree.  I was twenty and I knew it all.  That stuff they were teaching in college wasn’t interesting and didn’t pertain to me.  I got a job working for the university and I was happy.  Then I got married and had children and I was even happier.  The consensus was that I needed to finish my degree “in case something happens to Dave”.   But we never lived near enough to a college to allow that (there were no on-line classes then) and, honestly, I never cared much.  As it turned out, Dave’s still alive and well, the kids are grown and realistically, even if I had had a degree, I probably would still have ended up working clerical and secretarial jobs in the string of small towns where we’ve lived.  There weren’t a lot of opportunities.

But sometime over the years I discovered the joy of learning – just for the sake of learning.  Did you know that you can actually get a Bachelor of General Studies?  (Really, I looked it up.)  You get to learn a little science, a little history, a little art – like glass blowing.  How cool is that? Someone should have mentioned that thirty years ago!  I want to learn art history.  I want to re-learn American history - I wasn't paying attention in class.  I want to learn to knit.  I want to speak Spanish and Italian.  I want to read classic literature.  I want to answer all the questions on Jeopardy.  Ok, I still don’t want to learn math or any science that involves dissecting, but I’ll never be over learning. 

"You can be too rich and too thin, but you can never be too well read or too curious about the world.” - Tim Gunn

To be continued...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Aging Gracefully - Part II

Part II in a series of musings and ramblings concerning turning 50.

While Shirley McLaine and I certainly differ on a lot of views, I loved her concept for her latest book, I’m Over All That.  
At a certain time in life, we all come to realize what is truly important to us and what just doesn't matter.  In this wise, witty, and fearless collection of small observations and big-picture questions, Shirley MacLaine shares with readers all those things that she is over dealing with in life, in love, at home, and in the larger world... as well as the things she will never get over, no matter how long she lives.
In fact, I loved it so much that – with credit and thanks to Ms. MacLaine – I have written  my own list of things I’m over, some I’ll never be over and some I’m still working on. 

I’m over drive-through windows.  I hate the things and I refuse to use them except when absolutely necessary.  (It’s the only way to get a Sonic Strawberry Lime-Ade).  They are impersonal, frustrating and part of the cult of speed I choose not to join.  Besides, I usually have to go inside to use the restroom anyway.

I’m over pantyhose and heels.  The contortions, hot flashes and aching feet associated with wearing these two items serve no productive purpose at this age.  They are reserved for funerals and Easter Sunday.

I’m over rude behavior.  There is a scarcity of common courtesy, manners and respect in the world.  We taught our son to hold doors, and to offer his seat to a woman or his elder.  We taught our daughter to accept these courtesies graciously. There is nothing sexist or demeaning in that.  “It has to do with noticing our fellow human beings and saying, ‘I recognize that you’re on this planet, and I don’t want a door hitting you in the face.’” - Tim Gunn.  We taught them both to say please and thank you, to give assistance where they can, to speak respectfully, to write a thank-you note when they receive a gift, and to apologize when they are wrong.  I’m not so deluded that I think they always follow these rules – I have lapses myself – but they are some of the basic guidelines for how I choose to live my life, how I hope my children live, and how I expect to be treated in return.

Technology has played a large role in sucking the civility out of the world.  It creates the illusion of an isolated world that consists of just me and my music or conversation.  Why should the person on the other end of your cell phone take precedence over the people you are contacting face-to-face? Hang up and give your full attention to the person taking your order, ringing up your purchase or just saying “Good Morning” as you pass - not to mention the friends, family or co-workers who are actually in the car, in the room, or at the table with you.   Same goes for texting.  

And speaking of texting… the delusion of anonymity in e-mails, texts and Facebook adds to the rudeness quotient.  People say things via electronics that they wouldn’t have the nerve to say (or that they would wise up and re-think) in person.  My greatest regret as the parent of teens was allowing texting, instant messaging and Facebook.  

While I can’t control how others behave – including my own children, at this point – I choose to be over rude behavior and not participate.

I’ll never be over books in paper form.  This is not to say that I dislike the convenience of Nooks and Kindles, or that I wouldn’t like to own one just because they’re cool – but I will never be over browsing library aisles, pulling a book out to examine and returning it to it’s spot in the ordered line-up.  I will never be over that first moment when you step into a bookstore and are surrounded by shiny new covers all calling “read me” like a literary Audrey II.   I will never be over opening a dog-eared, cracked-spined paperback to find old friends.

I’ll never be over General Hospital.  I’ve known these people for thirty years.  I remember when Luke and Laura first met; when Jesse Brewer commanded the nurses desk; when Heather Webber discovered P.J. Taylor was actually her son, Stephen Lars.  I’ve stuck with them through heart transplants, car bombs, AIDS, mob wars, mental illness, rape, evil twins, hostage crises, Mr. Big and the Ice Princess – I can’t abandon them now.

To be continued...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Aging Gracefully, Part I

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come. 
-  William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice

With the approach of my fiftieth birthday, I’ve been looking back at how I’ve spent those years - what I’m proud of and what I could have done better.  I found that many things made both lists – marriage, motherhood, friendships.  But, since I can’t re-live the good or erase the bad, I’ve shifted my focus to what’s ahead.  How can I “finish well”? (That phrase was passed on to me by my sister, Teri.)  

During these last few days leading up to my birthday, I will be sharing a series of posts containing lessons I’ve learned, things I want to change, brilliant insights, and random thoughts about turning 50.   Disclaimer:  These are my views based on my experiences. Please, no hate mail, lawsuits or throwing of fruits and vegetables.

Over the past year, some of my reading choices have reflected my search for wisdom and I am borrowing generously from several:

Gunn’s Golden Rules by Tim Gunn
Is it Just Me (or is it Nuts out There)? by Whoopi Goldberg
Nothing’s Too Small to make a Difference by Wanda Urbanska and Frank Levering
I’m Over All That by Shirley McLaine. 
I have narrowed my goals to these three ideas:

1. Live simply.
2. Live graciously.
3. Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6:8

Living simply:   The word “simple” means 1) easy to understand, deal with, or use; 2) not elaborate or artificial.  So “simple living” should be uncomplicated, comfortable and genuine, right?  Yet, when I Googled that phrase, most of what I found seemed neither comfortable nor uncomplicated.  First was the “off the grid” end of the spectrum that encouraged me to wash my clothes in a hand crank washer and build my own windmill.  The second camp wanted me to buy all their products – water bottles, t-shirts, shopping bags – to proclaim my commitment to simplicity.  There were even  “simple entertaining” sites with blueprints for no-fuss dinner parties that would stump a structural engineer and cost enough to feed a family of four for a month.  

My idea of simple living is to weed out those possessions, relationships, commitments  and attitudes that cause stress or take more time to maintain than they are worth.  It’s not a fool-proof plan.  There are some stresses you can’t eliminate.  But I can control my response.  Which leads to...

Living graciously:  Not “gracious” as defined by glossy magazines that push elegance and luxury, but gracious as defined by Webster’s:  pleasantly kind, benevolent, courteous, merciful or compassionate.  

The complete text of Micah 6:8 is "He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  Moving to a new town naturally means find a new church.  How fortunate for me that it coincided with this bout of introspection.  Researching the various churches in our new community has given me an amazing opportunity to re-examine my faith.  Thanks, again, to Teri for pointing out this scripture verse.  I think it says it all.

For more of my dazzling insights and witty commentary, 
don't miss Parts II - V of Aging Gracefully.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Gabby's Post

Today, our new pup, Gabby, is guest posting.  This is the email she wrote to her friends at the Loess Hills Humane Society in Glenwood, Iowa, who rescued her from death row in a Kansas City pound.

Dear Friends:

Gabby and Molly play frisbee
I am at my new home and having lots of fun.  I have a mom, a dad and a Springer Spaniel friend named Molly.  I live on a farm now, so I have lots of room to run, and Mom and Dad play fetch with us a lot.  I even have my own frisbee.  I had a ball, but I ate it.  Mostly I just chase Molly while she chases the frisbee.  

Mom says that until I get better at my house training and "curb my enthusiasm" (whatever that means), I have to sleep on the enclosed porch.  But that's ok.  I have a nice soft bed and plenty of food and water out there.

The first night I was here, I ate mom's shoe.  She made a stern face at me, but she didn't  scold.  She just picked up everything on my porch and bought me some chew toys. 

The second day I was here, I found a pair of gardening gloves mom missed, so I ate one.  This time Mom turned kind of red and told me "No".  I heard her say something to Dad about "brand new", but I don't know what that was all about.

In the evenings, I get to go in the livingroom with the family and watch TV.  Dad likes to lay on the floor and cuddle up, but that gets boring, so I pretend he's a hurdle and I'm a famous track star.  I jump back and forth over him.  Sometimes this makes Dad look sad, so I stop and give him kisses.  That makes him laugh, and then he has to wash his glasses.

After TV time last night, Dad put me outside on my rope so I could cool down in the evening breeze and do my "duties" before bedtime.  But everyone else went back in the house.  I wanted to be where they were.  Fortunately, Mom and Dad leave my porch windows open so I can get a breeze, so I just went back inside that way.  That screen made it tough, but I'm big and strong, so I made it.  Oops!  Forgot I was on a rope, so I couldn't move far once I got inside.  When Mom came outside to let me in for the night, she couldn't find me.  I stuck my head back through the window to say "Here I am".   Mom looked stern again and said "no, no, no" a bunch of times.  Then she called me a "big, fat idiot".  But Dad stood up for me.  He said "She's not fat". 

Now the windows on my porch aren't open so wide, my rope got moved farther from the house, and Dad promised Mom he would get me a new screen, so everything's ok.  These people must really love me!

I miss you all, but I'm happy here.  I hope you all get "forever homes" soon.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bloomin' Questions

More new things are blooming at Green Acres.  I recognize the flower on the left as Lily of the Valley, but can anyone identify the one on the right?  I found a couple patches of it around the chicken house.  The leaves look like cilantro, don't you think?

What Was I Thinking?

 Ever wake up the morning after and wonder "What in the world was I thinking?"  And I wasn't even drinking when I agreed to this!  

This is Gabby, the newest member of our family.  After losing Josie a few weeks ago, Dave needed a new companion for rides in the pickup, so we began searching shelters for a dog we could rescue.  For reasons beyond my comprehension now, we chose Gabby - a mix of yellow lab and something else, perhaps St. Bernard, Mastiff...Sasquatch.  Yesterday we drove to Iowa to bring her home. 

She is beautiful.  When she runs it's like watching a horse - rippling muscles and thundering feet.  She is also adorable, funny... ill-mannered, overly-enthusiastic and totally lacking in social skills.  She wants to kiss everyone she meets, so she jumps in order to be nose-to-nose.  Not such a good idea since she weighs 75+ pounds (and she's not full grown) and throws her entire body into the kiss.  And she ate my shoe last night!
Our other dog, Molly, loves to play fetch, so Gabby has invented her own game.  I throw the frisbee, Molly chases the frisbee, Gabby chases Molly.  This game annoys Molly, but as long as Gab doesn't try to take her frisbee, she'll play along.

Stay tuned for more episodes of Clifford [Gabby] the Big Red Dog.  This should be interesting.  What was I thinking?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Marie Osmond sings Pie Jesu

I mentioned yesterday that I'm addicted to Marie Osmond's rendition of Pie Jesu - written by Andrew Lloyd Weber, by the way - so decided to share it with you.  If you've never heard it, you will be blown away by the clarity and tone of her voice.  Not to mention, it's one of the prettiest pieces of music ever written.  Enjoy!

Available on Marie's I Can Do This album.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Award and a Request

I hope you read my post last week about National Infertility Awareness Week and that you checked out the NIAW website and read a few of the amazing posts there, all written by women - and men - who are experiencing or have experienced infertility in some form.  I spent a lot of time on that site, and met some incredible people - one of them being the lovely blogger at We Say IVF - They Say FIV.  She graciously awarded me a Versatile Blogger award, which is for newly discovered blogs.

The award rules are to share 10 things about myself, and direct you to some other blogs I've discovered recently.  So here goes...

1.  It took over six years to conceive our first child.
2.  One summer I made over 1500 cookies. 
3.  I can't knit.
4.  However, I can tat lace - or at least I "usta-could".
5.  Dove chocolate saved my life during our recent move.
6.  I plant red geraniums every year because they remind me of my Grandma.
7.  I'm going to turn 50 later this month - probably.
8.  Favorite thing:  When both kids call and are happy - at the same time!
9.  I'm addicted to Marie Osmond's rendition of Pia Jesu (Who knew she had that amazing
     voice hiding under that "little bit country"?)
10. I've eaten two pounds of Farmer's Cheese since we moved back to Nebraska.  I've 
     never found it anywhere else. (Farmer's Cheese, crackers and grapes is the perfect 

As for passing the award along, I'm going to cheat just a bit.  Instead of listing 15 blogs I recommend, I'm asking you to go to the National Infertility Awareness Week page and read some of the stories there.  Even if you've never dealt with infertility, leave a comment on someone's blog just to tell them you care.

Needlework Tuesday

I finally have proof positive of something I've suspected for years....I suck at knitting!  I learned the basics years ago, but never really used it.  With my new-found free time, I decided to give it another try.  I purchased Knitting Made Easy and some needles.  The yarn I scrounged from my daughter's crochet supplies.  The instructions were easy to follow and it came back to me quickly - but I CAN'T DO IT!!!!    I think it's mostly a tension thing - in the stitches, that is - although I will admit I was a bit tense by the end.  I didn't even set out to actually make anything - just to knit some random shape for practice.  In spite of multiple tries, I never got two complete rows. It's difficult to see in this pic, but the first few yards of yarn are a kinky mess from being stitched and un-stitched so many times.  The stitches were too tight and I couldn't get them off the needles, or they were too loose and I ended up with 6" of yarn between the needles.  It was a disaster, so HELP!  

Would it be easier to learn with larger needles?  How do I keep the tension even?  How tight should the stitches be?  Any advice would be appreciated.

In other crafting news - there isn't any.  Didn't touch the quilt cause I never got to a store that carries purple thread.  Took a few stitches on the Christmas stocking, but most of my crafting time was spent knitting, ripping and cursing.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather at Books and Quilts.  Visit her blog to see what other crafters are working on this week.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mailbox Monday - My Way

I don't normally participate in Mailbox Monday - a meme created by Marcia at A Girl and Her Books - in which bloggers display the books and ARCs they received during the past week.  The reason I don't participate is because books rarely show up in my mailbox.  But this week was different.

I won a copy of Every Last One by Anna Quindlen!  The give-away was sponsored by Margot at Joyfully Retired.  Thanks Margot, for sharing your loot.