Sunday, December 06, 2009

Once Upon a Time

I had an idea. I'm certain it wasn't original, I'm sure someone suggested the idea to me and I just decided it was good enough to try out, but about 13 years and a couple months ago, I hosted a baby shower for my sister and as it turns out, for Birdy. The guests were friends, neighbors and relatives mainly from the town we grew up in. The idea was to have each guest write a letter to the baby, letters designated for specific years of her life. So that, on her birthday every year, my niece would have a letter from someone dear to my sister.

I had no idea at the time how fun this would be throughout the years. Perhaps the best part is that we don't know who the letter is from until it is opened. There aren't letters for every year, there weren't quite that many guests at the party, but certainly for the milestones we made sure there would be a letter.

And so today, for Birdy's 13th birthday, she opened the letter.


And it was written by her Papa, my dad (before he had even earned the name of "Papa"!)

It's odd to think that he wrote it before she was even born. It's strange to realize that thirteen years have passed since that day of cake and presents and laughter in our childhood home. But today we were all tickled by the words of Papa, to Birdy, two months before she was born.
More than anything, perhaps, I am touched by his last line, "I hope I'm with you on this special day". I am so grateful that he certain is!!
Happy Birthday, Birdy! And a special thanks to my dad, who probably reluctantly wrote this letter years ago, but has touched us all by this sweet note!
Love you both!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Why It's Easier to Teach the Littles

We're using new curriculum at school to teach reading. I find it to be remarkably cool mainly because it teaches children how to figure out for themselves how to spell because we teach them the rules of the English language. Things I never learned in all my education classes.

While I have a remarkably gifted child who is currently completing Junior/Senior English as an 8th grader, he cannot spell for the life of him, so I've been teaching him the new curriculum as we go to help him become a better speller and to understand the way our written language was developed.

Tonight, putting before him the word 'crinkle', I asked him why the 'c' said /k/ and not /s/ in this word.

My gifted child's answer?

"Um, because 'srinkle' just don't sound right?"

Sigh.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tough Love

George gets a little anxious about being picked up from school. He's just certain he's going to be left, forgotten and stranded, although it has never actually happened. We thought it was just because he doesn't know where my classroom is as easily this year, but it turns out he had a similar panic when it was his mom picking him up from school instead of the usual bus ride. After tears were shed and many promises for punctuality were made, George was still upset that my sister refused to park her car and go into the school to find him. She had promised she'd be in the circle drive, with all the other parents for pick-up, but that because they were in a rush to get to the game Birdy was cheering at, she didn't have time to park and come in. This didn't sit well with George at all. My sister reminded him that if she wasn't the first car immediately outside of the doors, to just look down the line of cars and he would see her; she would be there, she promised.

As George headed out the door that morning and down to the bus, my sister asked him where was her usual kiss goodbye. George looked over his shoulder and replied, "You don't get one today. You haven't earned it."

I Thought Philly Was a Rough Town

They might have boo'ed Santa in Philly, but here in Michigan, even Rudolph isn't safe from deer season. Geesh!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Finding the Humor

I've pitched one too many fits to Flash's band director begging him to challenge my child to not then participate in what appeared to be such an opportunity. Flash came home the other day talking about Pep Band. What he was lacking, however, was details. He didn't know what it was, when it met, what it was about, who was directing it, when they would play...he just knew someone had come to band and talked about a Pep Band while he was at gifted class. So I hounded him. We need a flyer. We need information. Talk with your director. Talk with other kids in band. TALK!!

But to no avail. No one seemed to know anything. His director wasn't in charge, didn't have details and didn't keep a flyer. Flash's best friend and bandmate had heard about it, but didn't know anything more than Flash knew.

We went to school for a presentation the other night (unrelated, but equally as unpublicized) and Flash drug me to the band room door to show me the sign. "Join the Pep Band!" The flyer declared. It had some strange name that had nothing to do with Flash's school, and then said it was this Friday night at 6:45. No details. No information. Is this a performance or a practice? What is this all about and who is putting this together?

No information was to be gleaned. So, I put it on my calendar and arrived home from work tonight with thoughts on dinner and getting a bit done before we headed off to school. That's when Flash announced he had to be there at FIVE forty-five. Apparently they PLAY at six forty-five, but have to be there that much earlier. Again, we don't even know WHAT he is playing at. We do know that his buddy has the music, and Flash has seen it and it's easy-peasy. (So, lacking the challenge we were hoping for).

In any case, reluctantly but in a supportive effort, off we go, grabbing dinner on our way (so Flash could snarf it down in the car).

So here's what the deal was: A local elementary school was having a fundraising night at Flash's middle school because they have no gymnasium or cafeteria of their own in which to host such an event (a "hoopla" as they called it). The high school cheerleaders performed, a handful of the middle school band members played (hence Flash) and the faculty at every school it seemed EXCEPT that elementary school played a rousing game of faculty basketball. There was a silent auction and food and t-shirts and even an admission fee (which Flash got us around by sneaking us in the back band door).

It was lame-o, in a nutshell and totally unrelated to a) Flash's school, b) band or c) anything that would challenge my child.

So, I was disappointed to have put in ANY effort whatsoever. But, to salvage the evening, on the way home, I'm sharing the antics of the cheerleaders who were practicing (and changing and talking) in the hallway where I had camped myself (what?! I wasn't paying admission, I could hear the pep band just fine from the hall). Flash then shared some of his own observations.

1. Their gymnasium has no flag. So when the Banner was sung, the crowd started at a "Got Milk?" poster of an Olympian that happened to have a flag in the background.

2. There was a group of children doing a choreographed routine to "Thriller" (shocking, I know). Only, the person in charge of the music had started to download the song, but didn't realize it hadn't finished downloading before the performance began, so the song started and then STOPPED because it had to finish downloading. He said the guy at the mic even said, "students, let this be a lesson to you. Always download the song ahead of time."

3. They had students from the elementary school running around the basketball court with large flags with a "P" and a "U" on them (for the name of the hyphenated school). As if that alone wasn't funny enough, Flash said they couldn't seem to stay in the right order, so at different points the flags 'read' "P" "P" "P" "U" "U" "U" or "P" P" "U" "P" U" "U"

At least we were able to chuckle while we otherwise wasted our time. Oh, and I wrote a couple thousand words for NaNo out in the hallway to boot!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Whew!

So I should be caught up now. I'm sure I've missed a few funny quips from George in there and I could dialogue every.single.day about raising a teen, but ya get the idea. Basically, I'm savoring my life. Soaking up every minute. I just love it.

I invite you all to come visit. Especially when there are leaves to rake, snow to shovel or paint to put on walls! No, really, just come and sit and savor life with me for awhile!

And now that I'm all caught up on blogging, off to NaNoWriMo I go! (not to mention Christmas cards that need to be done by December 1st!)

Home


I know I need different curtains, and I only hung pictures where they left nails in the walls (for now) but it's a start.

from the living room, looking into the den/sunroom/piano room

ah, paint samples on the fireplace. Yep, already got the itch.


This wallpaper will.come.down soon! I'm just not sure what I'm going to do for color in this room.

looking back to the front door from the den/sun/piano room


from the den/sun/piano room, looking across the living room. You can see the bathroom door. To the left is Flash's room. To the right the guest room.


The Guest Room.


The Guest Room. (This was my bed, but it won't fit upstairs with the slanted ceilings. Fine by me, I'm hoping not to sleep on a 3/4 sized bed for my whole adult life. For now, I have the mattress and box springs upstairs, though.)


The downstairs bath.

Looking into the kitchen from the living room. On the very left of this picture you can see the stairs that go up to the master suite.


Obviously, the kitchen.




My room. It's the whole upstairs. Ironically, Bear helped to refinish this room many years ago.


more of my room, including a peek into the bath.






Flash's room. Okay, no, not really. I took this picture when we were moving in. He had to keep his room cleared out so the furniture could all be put in place, so he camped out in his closet to do his homework. I don't have a current picture of his room because it's a pit. (Shocking, I know!)

The back of the house.

More of the back, including the back of the garage.

Looking back. The fencing with the beautiful (gag) green will be REPLACED with a white picket fence per the neighbor's daughter. How sweet is that?

The Orchard

aka Heaven on Earth

All these people know what I'm talkin' about.

Ahhh, Honey Crisps!! ($.75 at the you-pick, now $1.99 a pound at the store!)


Simply amazing!

Gotta taste test the product on site!



Definitely keepers!

I had to show this. It's my strapplesauce, but it kinda looks like it belongs in Fatal Attraction, doesn't it? (no rabbits were harmed in the canning of my applesauce!)

We even had a special (but dead) visitor come home with us.

Sex Ed: Beyond the Lecture

(Can I just start by saying that I cannot believe I did not blog about this when it happened?)

Before Flash left for the summer (yes, you in the back, I know I haven't blogged in forever...) we decided to have a special night out together. I had been to Monaco Bay (made famous by our own Matt Giraud) a few times with TB and others, but Flash was eager to see what all the fuss was about. I took him on a Friday night at 7 for their special "Dinner Show".

Note: Before I even start let me say this: I know that a bar is no place for a child. And I know first-hand how out of hand these places can get as the evening progresses. On the times I had been there previously, I found it was a great place to be until about midnight and then every bachelorette around seemed to think it was a great place for a drunken party. In any case, I also knew that this "dinner hour" was supposed to be quite tame, a FAMILY event even...so, with caution...I proceeded)

Flash was thrilled to be there. We checked with the bouncer at the door to verify that Flash could indeed come in, he just had to leave by 9. (The bouncer did tell us that if the evening was pretty slow, they often let minors stay a bit longer, it was up to the parent's discretion.) There was another family with two younger children across the restaurant, so all seemed well.


Within a half hour, however, the first bachelorette party arrived, complete with bobbling penises upon their heads. I was mortified to be sitting there, having dinner with my teenage son, but we had just ordered our greatly overpriced dinner, so we decided to stick it out. Bachelorette #1 proceeded to give Flash a great visual lesson in "what happens when a girl drinks too much" out on the dance floor. I tried to use it as a teachable moment.

By 8, two more bachelorette parties had arrived and set up shop. One party brought along their very own 3 foot-tall inflatable penis and put it on the table. Luckily (?!) Flash had his back to this table and missed out on all the antics that accompanied said penis.

The other party was fairly tame, except for the attire of the bride-to-be. Flash again took note of exactly how bizarre people act when they are drunk. Teachable moments abounded.


Around 8:30, one of the piano players took a request for "Leroy Brown". In an effort to encourage crowd participation I suppose, he solicited the family with young children seated in front of the stage. He informed the kids that while parents might tell you not to swear, if you're just singing song lyrics, it's not really swearing! He taught them the words to the chorus and then encouraged them to sing along LOUDLY as the crowd belted it out one last time. "...baddest man in the whole $#%! town..." Ahem. Flash stared at me in disbelief. Yes, son, this is how adults can behave badly even when they are sober.


By 9 the retirement party in front of us started to get a little loud. The otherwise tame over-50 crowd was now doing shots alongside the bachelorettes and the retiree (a school teacher nontheless) was now dancing on the table in front of Flash. Sigh.

We decided to depart.

The piano playing was lackluster at best. Their newest talent is lacking just that. It just isn't the same without Matt at the keys. I'm glad I was there a few times to hear him sing and watch him perform with personality before he moved on to stardom.

I'm sure that nights like these won't help me earn Mother of the Year, but I expect Flash and I will giggle about it for a long time to come!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

He was a fifth grader stationed there only to hold the door but saw me sitting outside the cafeteria and struck up a conversation about his latest feat of shooting (and then eating) a squirrel. He was a delightful child with sweet manners and disposition. He paused in his recollection of his adventure to ask me, "Do you hunt?" He started to shake his head like it was silly of him to have asked a woman if she hunts, but then he said, "No, really, do you?"

"No," I replied with a smile. "I don't hunt."

"Does your husband hunt?" he questioned back.

"I don't have one of those," I replied again with a smile.

"You're not married?" he asked with an element of surprise that I ascribe to his disbelief that a woman of my age could possibly still be single.

"No, I'm not married."

"Not yet, you mean," he said correctingly.


His optimism far outreaches my own on that topic, but just for the day, I let that phrase roll through my mind with hope.


Not yet.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Signed Up - Year 4

16 days to think of a plot...



Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Oh I know, I signed the papers, I've surely moved by now and yet no blogging.

Suffice it to say, I am aware.

But I'm also a little overwhelmed by all the decisions required of me at the moment (from where should ziplocs live, to how long can we go mooching off my sister's trash service?) and deciding what witty thing to say on a blog post is just low on the priority list. For now.

Pictures, you say? Oh yeah, I could post those. Of cardboard boxes and pictures strewn all over the living room. You could see the guest room without a bed (what? I have to sleep on something!) and my closet the moving catch-all room. But I'll save you from that. At some point, when I have things more in the general place of where they might live, and when I have a few things on the walls (curtains at the very least) that help make the house a home, I promise I'll show you my favorite things about the house.

So bear with me.

Besides, NaNoWriMo is only a couple weeks away. You might as well get used to me not blogging.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Waiting for This Moment

The last time I signed papers such as these I felt resigned. I was glad to be buying my first home, sure, and grateful for the gift that it was, but it wasn't what I wanted. I felt as though I had settled for less than my dream. Which is to be expected in a first home, I'm certain.

And since that time, since the leap back to the Midwest, since the change in careers, since all the risks we've taken to get here, I have prayed for this moment.

And so here I sit. Looking around my apartment. To the wall that beheld the "Welcome to Michigan!" sign my sister made for us two years ago. To the couch and loveseat, tattered, worn and aged that I have made-do with while I put our money aside for a house, not new furniture. To the handful of plants that survived the move, and have sustained themselves on limited sunlight. To the puppy that I promised a yard to.

In two hours I will sign the papers. And they will hand me my keys. Keys to a yard. To a garden. To arched doorways and a fireplace. Keys to a home with a guest room. To a lawn with flowers and trees. To a deck and falling autumn leaves. To pantry shelves in the basement awaiting my canned fruits and sauces.

It's a place where I can finally play the piano again. Where we can snuggle up in front of a fire during the long cold Michigan winter. To a yard where we can run and play with the puppy and enjoy his excitement and freedom. To a kitchen with an east window where we will sit together and eat breakfast, sit together to pray.

This afternoon I feel like I am finally coming home. Finally coming to MY home. To the home I always wanted my boy to have.

It's a blessing I do not deserve. But one I will forever be grateful for.

Home.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I have decided that packing is overrated. Much to my sister's dismay, I just don't see what the fuss is all about. I guess once you've moved halfway across the country on 10 days' notice, packing to move across town just seems like overkill. We have a few things packed (Jules made me do it) and beyond that we figure we'll throw some things in the car, drive over and take it out. The big stuff will all get moved by some very helpful people in a week or so. Beyond that, it just doesn't seem to concern me.

Which is good, because my closing has been postphoned. We hope it's just being pushed from tomorrow to Friday, but working with the government, I won't hold my breath on that. While I was thrilled to work summer school and bring in some money over those months, FHA seems to have some questions about my position, my salary and my contract. Oiy. We hope we've given them the necessary documentation, but if I've learned anything, assuming anything is well, a bad idea.

Along with having no closing date, I have no voice. My annual favorite-season allergies have kicked in and while I tried to combat them with a duet of o-t-c solutions, I am still left with more snot than any one person should contain and no voice. A balance of less of one and more of the other would be welcome.

So while my sister hopes that I put more things into cardboard cubes, and the government partners with God in trying to teach me patience, and my son sulks because I won't allow him to use his computer unless he sacrifices his ipod (a trade made necessary by routine abuses of my generous computer allowances for homework purposes - but a trade he deems entirely unfair and unwarranted) I think I shall take my sorry, tired, snot-infested, mean-mother self to bed.

And hope it's one of the last times I do so in this particular location.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Well That Explains It Then

Birdy came home from school the other day excited that one of her friends was going to have a baby brother by C-section in a few weeks. George wanted to know what a C-section was. My sister delicately explained to her nine-year old son that a C-section is when they have to cut a mommy's tummy to get the baby out that way. She went on to explain that George had been delivered by C-section.

"But not me!" Birdy exclaimed.

"How did Birdy get out of your tummy?" asked a very curious George.

My sister pondered and thought of how to as delicately explain that process especially considering they were all at the dinner table and was proud of herself when she answered with, "Well, babies usually come out of a mommy's girl parts."

George looked quizzically at my sister and then asked in complete bewilderment, "Babies come out of your boobs?"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Last night it was a pork chop, green beans, four pieces of cornbread, and large glass of milk dinner followed by a request not 20 minutes later for a piece of strawberry rhubarb crisp (that was followed up shortly by another piece).

Tonight it was two and a half pieces of lasagne, six pieces of garlic bread, a Caesar salad, a glass of lemonade and well, you guessed it, onto the strawberry rhubarb crisp before the kitchen was even cleaned up.

And yet, the size 28x32 jeans we had to search the world over for are so big they keep falling off my boy?

Oh to have such problems!

Flash Just Reminded Me

That NaNoWriMo begins in six weeks.

Whether his motive was to give me plenty of notice so I began to think about my next Really Cruddy Novel or if he just wanted to send me into a tailspin, I can personally confirm he did the latter.

Thanks, Flash.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Something's Gotta Give

I just want to know if I should pack 'em or pitch 'em.



Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Printed with Permission

Girl: Schools tomorrow! wish you were gonna be there!

Flash: You wish I was gonna be there? Last year you couldn't get rid of me soon enough.

Girl: How was your first day at school?? Yeah I do wish you had been there!! I mean everyone else is totally retarded!! YOUr my bus buddy!! YOur supposed to be there to make me laugh and for me to be maen to when I'm not having a good day!!!!

Flash: Careful; you make is sound as if you actually liked dealing with me.
Besides, there's still four years of High school that you'll have to put up with me.
And you weren't mean; you were funny.


Girl: OOh thanks now i know why when I tell the kids i babysit I'll get upset if they don't do what I tell them they just laugh!!! and I do like dealing with you compared to some of the buffoons at this new school!!!!! and what college are you thinking for your Graduate and undergrad?? I want either NMU or MSU for Undergrad and Cornell University for my Graduate!

Flash: Y'know, you might want to watch what you say about me. You are sounding mighty friendly; I think over the summer you magnified my good traits (humor, wittiness, smarts, etc.) and forgot about my negative traits (aggravating, annoying, boy, etc.) hence making me seem a much better person than I actually am. Not that I'm complaining. Just keep it in mind.

(Mom: I have to say it's a little weird to watch your teen flirt with a girl! He was mad a year or so ago when I said this girl liked him after he announced that she had baked him cinnamon rolls and brought them to school! Now, he blushes when her name is mentioned and seems a little disheartened that he's not at the new middle school with her this year! Budding romance in the house!! But she's at least ambitious - she knows what college she wants to go to as an 8th grader! And she doesn't use text-speak! Is it too soon to be impressed?)

First Day

Somehow, the fact that he held his own sign upside down just seems befitting of the age!
(He made his 8 with pictures that represent his year...ipod, pizza, computers..)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Just Once

in my life I'd like to be too tall and too skinny to find a single pair of jeans that fit me after searching through eight stores.

Just once.

Is that really asking too much?

For now, I guess I'll have to settle for being the mother of such a person. Sigh. More jean shopping will continue tomorrow. Wish us luck.

A Great Man, Not Just a Great Football Player

I knew it had to happen at some point, but I was hoping for one more season.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=4433305

Thanks #54!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

So I Don't Forget

"You wonder why God doesn't remove temptation from your life? If He did, you might lean on your strength instead of His grace. A few stumbles might be what you need to convince you: His grace is sufficient for your sin.

"You wonder why God doesn't remove the enemies in your life? Perhaps because He wants you to love like He loves. Anyone can love a friend, but only a few can love an enemy. So what if you aren't everyone's hero? His grace is sufficient for your self-image.

"You wonder why God doesn't alter your personality? You, like Paul, are a bit rough around the edges? Say things you later regret or do things you later question? Why doesn't God make you more like him? He is. He's just not finished yet. Until he is, his grace is sufficient to overcome your flaws.

"You wonder why God doesn't heal you? He has healed you. If you are in Christ, you have a perfected soul and a perfected body. His plan is to give you the soul now and the body when you get home. He may choose to heal parts of your body before heaven. But if he doesn't, don't you still have a reason for gratitude? If he never gave you more than eternal life, could you ask for more than that? His grace is sufficient for gratitude.

"Wonder why God won't give you a skill? If only God had made you a singer or a runner or a writer or a missionary. But there you are tone-deaf, slow of foot and mind. Don't despair. God's grace is still sufficient to finish what he began. And until he's finished, let Paul remind you that the power is in the message, not the messenger. His grace is suffcient to speak clearly even when you don't.

"For all we don't know about thorns, we can be sure of this. God would prefer we have an occasional limp than a perpetual strut. And if it takes a thorn for him to make his point, he loves us enough not to pluck it out.

"God has every right to say no to us. We have every reason to say thanks to him. The parachute is strong and the landing will be safe. His grace is sufficient."


In the Grip of Grace - Max Lucado

Your Grace is Enough

Sunday, at church, I was talking with a friend who had previously invited me to join her small group in the fall. I had asked her when the get togethers would resume when she got all excited and shared with me that they were having a end-of-summer picnic and pool party that afternoon and immediately invited me to join them.

I accepted her offer, but inside I was full of trepidation. Would I know anyone else there? Wouldn't I rather meet everyone when the group meetings began again instead of crashing some picnic I wasn't even prepared to attend? Would anyone else be as eager to see me and to have me there as this friend was to invite me?

I needn't of worried, of course. This friend allowed me to follow them to the picnic lest I get lost on the way. And the moment we arrived, she introduced me one by one to all the other members of the group that were present. When it was time for lunch, she handed me a plate and welcomed me at the table even though I had nothing to contribute to the meal. She asked me questions and brought me into their conversations, explaining the things I didn't know and clarifying the questions I had.

At the suggestion of another friend at church, I just picked up my first Max Lucado book at the library, In the Grip of Grace. In one chapter, Mr. Lucado is talking about Christ, as he takes our hand and leads us to the Father. I can imagine entering Heaven with trepidation. Is this gift for real? Is God going to change his mind when he has seen my past? Will His grace really be enough? And then I see Christ, coming to greet me with a hug and reassurances. He takes me by the hand and personally introduces me to God - not a formal introduction, but an excited, eager, introduction of a dear friend to his father!

I am one of these people Mr. Lucado is writing about. I think, yes, this grace is a wonderful idea, but really? Really? I mean, for some people, sure, they are good and wonderful and have loved God since the beginning of their life, but me? I've made some mistakes. Some captial-M Mistakes. I don't know if this grace thing is going to be enough.

It is. It always will be. It always was. Before I was created, before I ever sinned, God planned His grace for me. For ME!! (psst! For you, too!)

I Peter 1:18-20: "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake."

THIS JUST IN!!!

Flash is coming home on Sunday!!!!!

PRAISE THE LORD!!!

(My goodness have I missed this kid this summer!)

Top Ten

I texted Flash tonight and asked him to please come home as no one will play Yahtzee with me here. He texted me back to say that playing Yahtzee would be the fourth thing he did when he got home.

I got to thinking and sent him my top ten list of things Flash will do upon his return home:

1. walk the dog
2. clean the cat box
3. eat everything
4. lost 20 Yahtzee games to Mom
5. cook dinner all week
6. rebuild the K'nex thingy George broke.
7. eat again
8. do all the reading you should have done this summer
9. throw Jonah (the cat) down the hall
10. tell Mom you missed her.


His reply:

1. play with the dog
2. be glad I'm back
3. leave all my stuff right where it will drive you wacko and then move it.
4. win 50 Yahtzee games
5. Call my two best buds
6. take the dog out
7. tell the cat to leave me alone
8. unpack an astounding amount of STUFF
9. reply to the 5236 texts Dad sent me during that time
10. sleep in my own bed.

My message back? "Love the list! (mainly because there is no mention of food consumption in your top ten!)"

His reply: "That's items 11-15."

His next text: "And 16-20 is telling my mom I missed her and all about my summer."


Oh how I miss my boy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Visitor Returns

There was a note at my door when I arrived home, along with the books and DVD's he had borrowed the other night. He wondered if maybe I would want to watch a movie together later.

I welcomed him down but declined to watch the movie he brought with him (I didn't think it was appropriate despite it's rating).

He wanted to tell me about the first day of football practice - of how they have to get down on one knee and look the coach in the eye when he speaks, and how they only get ten second water breaks and how today they practiced at his old middle school but tomorrow they get to practice at the new one. And he pulled out last year's yearbook so I could see his school picture (which he didn't like but smiled when I said it was a great picture) and to show me the picture of the girl that he likes. He answered my questions about her and told me a little about their relationship. He likes her but she turned him down. He still texts her, though and he thinks maybe she does like him a little. It was cute and innocent and sweet.

He walked the wet puppy with me and then spent some time looking for more books in Flash's room. When he emerged I told him I'd be busy tomorrow night but perhaps if he wanted to come visit again on Wednesday, I would be around. He said goodnight and thanked me again for letting him take more books with him. I thanked him for sharing his yearbook and movies with me. As he left he told me he had straightened up Flash's bookshelf. I thanked him for that gesture and he responded by saying, "It was the least I could do."

He is so very different from my own child, despite being the same age. But the fact that he so readily comes to my door, so easily sits down with much on his mind to talk about, so grateful for a book to borrow, a movie to watch again, someone just to talk to that my heart aches a little. He has a good mom, a hard working, single mom. I just hope she gets these wonderful, tender moments with him, too.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Company

I posted a few weeks ago about my upstairs neighbor. The music has been toned down, but I didn't get any response to my invitation to do something together. After my trip to the peach orchard, I took a handful of fresh peaches up, but they weren't interested in peaches and I left feeling defeated.

Then, the other night when I arrived home late from the movies, I had three missed calls in quick succession on my cell from upstairs. As I arrived home wondering what might have prompted the calls, I found my doorknob had been greased. There's only one culprit I would even suspect and I found the same frustrated feeling rising in me again.

I left a voicemail that night for my neighbor (for him mom, really) just asking if there was anything the matter or something I could help with. I didn't catch up with her until the following morning when she explained her frustration at her son for calling me. "He's so bored," she went on to say, "but it doesn't excuse him from just calling you like that." He hadn't left a voicemail. I don't know if he was actually trying to reach me or just see if I was home, but in any case, I waved it away and didn't mention to her about my doorknob. I didn't want him in trouble.

I've spoken with his mom outside at 7:30 the past couple of mornings. She's on her way home from work and I'm on my way out to work. We've been talking about the new middle school down the road and whether Flash will be attending with her son. We've talked about the bus route (or lack thereof) and about her desire for her son to "start fresh" at the new middle school and not be around the "hoodlums" he's been hanging with at the old school.

I spent some time while babysitting the other day trying to brainstorm some ideas on what I could invite her son to do with me some evening that might be enticing to a 13 year old boy. You'd think I'd know that sort of answer, but he's a different sort of child than my own.

Tonight, my question was answered for me.

When I arrived home tonight, there was a book and a note outside my door. Without even looking at it, I knew it was from upstairs. His note was an apology, as it always is, and a thank you to Flash for lending him this book long ago. He asked if he might borrow another some time and asked if I would just knock or leave it outside his door.

I took Eli for a walk and thought about my options. when I came in, I opened the mail and had my answer. My Netflix movies had arrived. One of them I remember putting on my list, but hadn't realized I'd bumped up to the number one slot (so it got mailed now). It was a movie I had intended to watch with Flash when he arrived back home. It's a sci-fi action thriller rated PG-13. Perfect for a 13-year old boy...

I called upstairs and told my neighbor that he was more than welcome to come down and borrow any books of Flash's that he was interested in, I know Flash won't mind at all. And by the way, I was going to watch this movie tonight, did he have any interest?

He asked his mom and got permission and will be down in just a few minutes to join me.

I know it's just a movie. I know it's not a big deal. But somehow, it's one less bored night for this boy, and a night when I get to have company for a movie.

I see it as a win-win.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Somewhere

Down the road at the bar, is a man who is talking about the places where he has lived and laughing when he finds out the stranger next to him has lived in many of those places, too. Down the road, watching the Red Sox game, is a man, a father, who is telling this woman about the business he owns, his involvement in a community she is familiar with, about his family. Down the road at the bar, is a man who is witty, flirtatious and intelligent.

On the stool next to me is this man. He is telling me about his kids. He is reminiscing with me about places "back home". He is watching me now, and not the game. He is telling me about his life, his family. He is unconvincingly without a ring, leaving gaps in his life story that only a wife could fill. He is telling me about his unhappiness. He reluctantly tells me about his wife.

Somewhere in the next town over tonight, is a woman. She's a mother of four boys. Her sons attend the schools in the district where I work. She's at home tonight. But her husband is not.

Somewhere out there tonight this woman is waiting. She is wondering what sort of errand to WalMart takes four hours. She is alone at home.

Somewhere tonight is a husband. Left alone on his barstool. Rejected for his offer to go elsewhere, he'll finish his beer alone or find someone else to tell his censored story to.

For somewhere in the next town over is a woman. Who, tonight, was offered more respect for her marriage by a stranger on a barstool than from her own husband.

It is a small consolation, perhaps, but I hope it is something.

The Man of My Dreams

I just woke from dreaming of you and it was so real and so vivid, I had to write it down.


I was in a grocery store, perhaps with my niece, although she would have been younger. The grocery store was small, but higher quality, and we were buying ingredients to make homemade macaroni and cheese. I was going to make it for my sister, apparently, who came into the store on her lunch break (or some such) and I explained to her that had I known earlier that I was going to be making that, I would have put in the effort to do it well - and so that's what we were doing now, we were getting whole grain pasta noodles, and then I asked my niece if we should get ham to put in it and she agreed that we should. (I should admit here that I don't know what happened to my niece as she isn't in the rest of the dream, so I'm hoping I didn't somehow lose her. And my sister changed form quite dramatically from the start of my dream where she looked like she actually looks now to the end, but I'm getting ahead of myself).

I went over to this little serve-yourself sort of dream-strange counter where the ham would be. Things were in big ziploc bags and there was chicken (which was like chicken legs, only some of the bones that people had apparently either eaten or taken chicken off of, was now back in the bag...) and I found the bag that had some ham, and there were some really good ham pieces in the bottom of the bag and so I got my own little ziploc and I was forking out some of the really good ham slices. And this man came up to my left and was waiting patiently to get whatever it was that he came for. But then I saw this bag with bread in it. It was a dark rye-looking bread and I thought that would be perfect (I'm not quite sure what part of my mac and cheese needed this dark bread, in my mind now, it seems like it was going to have some sort of soft crouton-ish purpose in the mix) and so I reached to my left to this bag of bread and started selecting some pieces, but there was some sort of spread on the corner of some, a tartar sauce-looking sort of spread, and I was trying to get pieces that didn't have that.

The man, it seemed, was waiting for that bread as well, and yet I managed to take nearly all of it. I apologized to him, but he just laughed this perfect, casual laugh and I realized I was entertaining him with my antics as I tried to avoid the sauce. I don't know if I started to explain to him what I was doing or what, but the next thing I can remember from my dream is we were talking.

And then it was like we were at the store for a second time, having run into each other again, but this time we were eating at a table next to each other. No one else was at the table and we sat side by side, not across from one another. We were talking about nothing, but I know I was nervous. I liked him and as I became more and more aware of that, I became more and more aware that he wasn't at all affected with nerves the way I seemed to be. He was funny and witty and flirting with me. He was teasing me in a way that told me that he was interested, and yet, he wasn't afraid I wouldn't be interested back. It set me on edge and I got up and started packing up my lunch things which mainly consisted of about ten water bottles of various color and size. I was putting them all into this bag, walking even to the other side of this man to collect all these bottles, when I realized I was packing up his bottles, too. The red ones were his, or some of the red ones were and so I started to take them out of my bag, angry with myself for being so flustered. I knew he noticed that I had packed (and was now unpacking) his, but he just went on telling me whatever witty thing he was saying (as if I could even hear like a rational person at this point) and went on eating. I remember asking the man if he Facebooked (oh heavens tell me it's not true) and he laughed this sweet little laugh and said, no, he didn't facebook (and how much more I liked him for that) but that he'd do anything for this crazy new stranger he'd met. And I kept thinking "he called me crazy?" realizing I was acting as strangely as I ever had.

It was then that my family arrived. And by family, I mean my dad, my sister (who had changed into a blonde with long-hair) and several other people, I'm not sure who they were, really. They were apparently ready to go, although my sister was with someone she wanted to introduce me to, but I went to her and drug her by the hand over to this man as if I was going to introduce them.

I don't remember actually doing so, what I remember is that I loaded up my things into my cart or some such thing, and when I came back for the last of it, my dad was talking with this man and I felt the need to introduce them somehow. I said something else first and then realized I was being inappropriate and they were both waiting for an introduction (as if they realized this was the start of something much bigger) and so I said to the man, "this is my father, Roger Wilson" and then I looked at my dad and said, "This is Rodger..." and before I could even say his last name, I felt the need to know, and so I asked the man, "do you spell it with a 'd' or without?" And he replied with the same flirtatious casualness that he'd shown all afternoon "well, how did you spell it?" And I was about to explain that I hadn't yet had reason to write it down when I woke up.

I want to say his last name was something like Clemons, but obviously that's just baseball stuck in my head, and even having written that, it makes it all seem so much more like some crazy dream.

But for a moment, a short while ago, it didn't feel like a dream at all. It felt like I had met him. It felt like he was real. He had a name. He had dark hair and this amazing smile. And while I acted like a bumbling fool, he liked me. And I knew somehow that he was going to be important enough for me to introduce to my father. And to spell his name correctly.

I spelled it with a 'd', Rodger. It seems like that's the way you spell it, but I didn't get the answer from you to know for certain. I hope that was the right way.


I should point out, that this dream only disturbs me in that his name wasn't Charlie. For those that recall, I once had a similarly real-feeling dream that I was getting married and his name was Charlie and that we met in a pastry shop (see? I can remember all the details even now. I'd link to the post if it wasn't 5:45 in the morning.) For the vividness of this dream, it feels only a contradiction that his name didn't stay the same. The realness of this man still feels tangible in the early morning hours. I know he's not. But out there somewhere he is.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peach Goo Anyone?

My house is easily 112 degrees. My dishwasher is running a full load and I still have two bit pots on the stove that will need washing. I have four beautiful jars of canned peaches on my counter waiting to be processed. I have 5 processed and not so pretty jars sitting on my table cooling off. I have 7 jars in the canner at the moment boiling their little hearts out although I'm wondering why I bother at this point since I pretty much filled the jars with peach goo.

When I visited the orchard two days ago, the woman asked me exactly what I wanted peaches for, and I said, "for canning." She asked me when I would be canning and I replied, "within the next few days." And with that information she led me right to very specific trees with very specific instructions on just what kind of peaches to pick.

Two days later I have a house full of fruit flies, smooshy, gushy peaches and I'm so disgusted that I may never actually eat a peach again.

This has been the most disgusting, disappointing, frustrating process. My only saving grace is that it cost me a grand total of $30, so if the canned peaches taste as bad as the process, well, I won't feel too badly.

It's currently 11:15 and I still have 15 minutes left on this batch in the canner and then another batch to go, which easily takes 30 minutes to get up to boiling and then they need to process for another 30 minutes.

Ugh. I think that's my word of the day. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

George's Take On It

Bear and Jules are having a party. They've invited Bear's entire office over for a get together at their house. This week they've been busy with preparations: getting the lawn in shape, making sure the music system works outside, stocking up on beverages, and cleaning the house.

Yesterday, George was talking with me about parking for the party, making suggestions as to where people might wish to park their cars when they come for the party.

And then he said, "If you bring your wife to the party, you can get drunk."

It took me a minute to realize he was referring to the idea of a designated driver for the party.

I responded by saying, "What if the wife wants to get drunk?"

Not missing a beat, George quipped, "Then you'd better start drinking first!"

Yep, I think he's ready for a fraternity.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

1919

He married young, as they did back then, with a child on the way. A baby that would only live a few short days. He was a farmer his entire life, raising hogs and cattle, corn and soybeans. He had a stroke when my mom was still alive; they used to joke about making a "complete person" with her good right hand and his good left. He moved to town awhile back, abandoning the overalls he always wore for "proper city clothes". If by 'city' you mean a town of a few thousand.


Whereas Grandma taught me to go to church, how to garden, the best places to find newborn kitties on a farm, Grandad taught me to shoot pool, to drink Shirley Temples and to lie to Grandma about where we'd been ("We just went into town to get water for the well. I have no idea why we smell like the pool hall!") He drove an old pick up truck way too fast and often on the wrong side of the road. He always used a toothpick and he never called my sister or me by name. We were always, affectionately, and nondescriptly, "Kid".

In addition to the baby, he has buried two grown children, a son, a daughter and more recently, his wife of nearly 70 years. He has lived in a nursing home for the past many years but is still sharp as a tack if only he could hear all your questions. You can see Grandma's old apartment out the back through his window. She used to visit him every day the weather would permit her to walk across the lawn and would watch for his light to go off in the evening.

This past weekend, I rode along with my sister and her family to celebrate Grandad's 90th birthday. Officially, he turned 90 on July 28th. As one of the nurses pointed out, we were "late". Grandad simply smiled and adamantly reminded her, "But they're here." He wanted nothing more than to be taken outside in the sweltering heat to sit in the gazebo. A simple but rare treat.

My sister had ordered cake. Enough to feed the entire town, it would seem, but well worth seeing my Grandad's lips turn green from the icing.

Being a diabetic, he shouldn't have been allowed a first piece, but when you're 90, I think you deserve the right to choose for yourself. And Grandad chose to have a second piece. And a third. And he scolded my sister for wiping the icing off his arm saying, "I was saving that for later!"



We saw my uncle, Grandad's only surviving child, the one relative we feared the most when we were kids. Not because he was particularly scary, just that we only saw him when he came in for supper and he would come through the house hunting us down and tickling us when he did find us and we thought that was scary enough. Birdy and George will never have such fearful memories of their great-uncle. They love his teases and tickles!
It was a great day spent with a great man. A man I thought was old even when I was very young. I am grateful for all the years since that have given me a chance to grow old with this man I love.

Happy Birthday, Grandad!

If Only I Could Share Her Enthusiasm


Rosie is ready to pack! (Or to be packed, anyway!)

Speaking of Angels

Not to live in the bliss for too long, as I was driving home from the orchard, there was a severe accident on the road. A car coming from the other direction had gone off the road and head first into a tree. There was an ambulance, two fire trucks and at least 5 police vehicles at the scene. A man was being loaded onto a stretcher, but I don't know if there were others involved or not. It was a terrifying scene.

Just a mile or two down the road, the car up ahead of me put on his signal and turned right. I wasn't too close behind, but stepped on my brakes to slow a bit as he turned and had little resistance as my foot went slowly to the floor and the car only slightly slowed. I pumped the brakes, thankful that the car ahead had already easily made the turn, but to no avail. Brakes seemed to be absent.

I slowed the car a bit, pushing the pedal all the way to the floor and doing a tremendous amount of praying and found that in a pinch, I could bring my car to a crawl, but any sudden need to stop was completely out of the question.

Fortunately, I had turned off my usual path home to bring my sister a taste of heaven (a peach or two) and wasn't just discovering this problem as I tried to slow on the exit ramp off the highway. I called my sister, asking if she'd meet me at the mechanic in her town so I could drop off my car hoping they could work on it in the morning when they opened. I explained the problem and as Bear listened in, Jules said, "Bear says to bring it here. He'll look at it first."

I prayed and crawled the last ten miles or so to my sister's house. Thankful for plenty of room in front of me and for patience for the driver behind me. I had to peel my hands off the steering wheel when at last I parked in her driveway (thankful that her drive is UPhill).

Bear came out, took a look and then said he wanted to test drive it. I cautioned him, concerned my Taurus would become part of the corn field at the end of their drive, but he buckled in and took it down the drive and down the road. He returned proclaiming, "I think you're just low on brake fluid." And off he went in his truck to fetch some. He was back before I could blink, filled it up and tested it out and all was fine and perfect.

I cannot express my gratitude. Not just for Bear, which was no small thing. He saved me a mechanic's bill, the hassle of swapping cars and shuffling around while I work to get mine fixed. But as all the 'what ifs' run through my mind tonight, I could sit here terrified of what might have happened. What if I had gone home on the highway? What if I hadn't had so much room between that car in front of me when he turned? What if I had been rounding one of the many curves when I needed my brakes instead of out on the straight road? What if I had been in PA, without Bear to calmly and easily solve the problem?

I know that I am always in God's hands. But tonight He gave me a reminder of just how carefully He holds me. I won't soon forget.

Heaven

I've been doing a lot of thinking about Heaven lately. We've had a couple sermons on the topic. I've read a book or two. And I've just been letting my mind wander to imagine what God might have in store for my eternity.

Tonight, I think I had a taste.

People asked why I had to drive all the way out to Crane's to pick peaches. We have roadside stands every where in Michigan with an abundance of fresh, local, produce, including my much-desired peaches. But Crane's has always been a near-spiritual experience for me each fall when we go to pick apples and I wanted the experience of picking peaches right off the tree.

Despite picking apples at orchards for years, nothing quite prepared me for the "awesomnosity" (to steal a word from Flash) of the peach orchard. It's the SMELL along with the feel, and the sun streaming through the branches. It's the gentleness of your touch as you pick each one. It's the juice running down my arm. It's looking around on a Tuesday night and feeling as if I was the only one present in the whole field.

I didn't have my camera with me, or you'd be blessed with a million shots, all fallling short of capturing even a fragment of the experience.

To top it off, as I went to pay with my debit card, as I always do when we pick apples at the orchard (easier to hold a card in my pocket than the cash required for all of our apples) the woman in charge politely informed me that the peach side of the orchard does not take debit cards. Being several dollars short of the cash I would need, I began to think back to where the nearest ATM was. Before I could even utter outloud that I'd be right back, the woman began writing on a piece of paper saying, "It's not a problem. You can mail me a check when you get home. Here's our address."

An angel. Well, of course, it is a piece of Heaven.

And so if you're wondering what Heaven might be like, might I suggest a trip to Crane's Orchard in Fennville, MI. For me, it's complete bliss.

Monday, August 10, 2009

If It Weren't For George

As Birdy snuggled down into her sleeping bag with the bag ties under her head instead of at her feet, Bear suggested she might want to turn the bag around so she didn't get strangled in the night.

"Yeah, Birdy," I commented. "I'd hate for the morning paper to read: Teenager Strangled by Sleeping Bag Ties While Parents and Aunt Slept Nearby."

George quickly chimed in, "And Brother Had Nothing to Do With Her Death!" just to be certain he wouldn't be blamed!

Much Ado

So I haven't been posting. Most of you don't seem to be noticing, but I've had a couple comments and nudges and some flat out remarks. It's not for lack of material (see previous post - comments such as those are a daily occurence with George around) it's for lack of time and energy.

What?! Me lacking time and energy? I know. Things change in a hurry around here, keep up.

It's a "be careful what you wish for" reminder as I have been bored to tears without my boy at home this summer when lo and behold I get an offer to do some side work for school and now all I do is laminate and cut it would seem.

But it's money. And right now, money in the bank is a blessing.

Because...

There seems to be movement on the house. After months of silence and waiting, I was informed last week that there is forward movement on the short sale and the seller's bank may wish to close soon and suddenly on the house. Translated: OH MY GOODNESS.

When we moved from PA to MI (if you recall, it's still a bit blurry in my mind) we went from sold to moved in less than 2 weeks' time. I was hoping for something a little less hectic this time around. And I may still get my wish. Even if they wish to close soon, I still have 30 days on my lease from the point that I give notice, so the move itself might be leisurely even if nothing else seems to be at this time.

But, the good news is that God has been providing. I've patchworked summer jobs (summer school, two babysitting jobs and now this extra work) which has replenished my down payment money and is now giving me some cushion (which helps me sleep at night). And closing before school starts would be a benefit to Flash who would prefer not to start at the new middle school only to switch back to the one he has been attending should we move.

So in a nutshell, I spend my days babysitting and cutting. My evenings are spent fetching boxes and cutting. And when I get an extra moment, I sleep. I hope you'll forgive me for not blogging more often. At some point I realize I'm going to have to squeeze in some packing.

Note: Flash doesn't know the latest news on the house. As there is still a level of uncertainty, I didn't want him to get his hopes up again only to have them dashed. He truly loves this house and it would delight him senseless if we were to actually get our hands on it. Until I know for certain that it's going to be ours, I'm going to keep mum. For those of you that read and know Flash IRL, would you please not mention it just yet? Of course, it could be quite a shock when I pick him up in September and drive him to a new home across town!!

Where I Realize I Wouldn't Have Anything Funny to Report Without George Around

Yesterday my sister and Bear dropped Birdy off with her paternal grandparents for a special trip to Niagra Falls. As they drove away, George admitted he was a little envious of his sister.

"I'm sure you will get to visit Niagra Falls someday," comforted my sister.

"I don't care about Niagra Falls," George replied. "Birdy will get to see real live Canadians!"

Sunday, August 02, 2009

I know it was no small thing for him to ask. He talked about it while he was still here. I had mentioned the idea, but I think he was nervous about asking his dad, about imposing, and presuming.

But today for the first time outside of his grandparent's church, my boy sat with his FATHER at church. At our old church. In a pew next to our dearest friends.

And while I wish I could have been there, while I wish I could have hugged Myra and Ken and while I miss having my boy next to me in church, I can recognize this as a wonderful event just as it is. A big moment. A brave moment for my boy. And a generous one by his dad.

Thank you, Myra and Ken for your warmth. Jacob would not have gone there if you hadn't been there.

And thank you to J, for taking our boy and sitting beside him in a pew. I hope it was no small thing to you, either.
She wasn't there this time. She wasn't among those precious little ones dressed in leotards and ballet shoes. She wasn't there to dance and perhaps it was easier this way.

A year ago I sat with a boy in church and watched his daughter dance. It was the start of a new relationship and it was one of the first times I had been around his children. I was honored to be there. I was delighted to see her dance. And I was deeply touched by the opportunity (at last!) to sit beside a boy in a pew. It was no small thing. But it was not meant to be a lengthy thing.

This weekend, she was not there to dance. At her mother's for most of the week, she missed out on our church's dance camp. He was not there either. It's his 41st birthday and he was off to celebrate with his new girlfriend - as it should be. It's all good.

But I couldn't help but think this morning, sitting in a pew alone, of my thoughts from a year ago. My hope. My joy. The thrill of having a little boy wrap himself up in me, a little girl who waved from the stage when she saw her dad. Of a man, who put his arm around me and prayed with me at his side.

He wasn't meant to be mine, nor I his. We disagree - a lot. We are better apart than ever could be together. And I think we've both reached a point of understanding and accepting that.

But I still hope that I will get such an opportunity again. A chance to love little ones as if they were my own. A chance for the joy that comes from praying together.

I wish TB a very happy birthday today. I pray that The Rentals are safe and loved and cherished. And I pray that his new relationship might be a real blessing from above - full of joy and laughter.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

My Summer Project

It started when I flipped through a book I bought as a Christmas present for my second mom. The book was titled, "100 Things To Do Before Heaven" or some such ambitious thing, and one of the items was "have a signature dish". Have a signature dish? I don't even have a dish for company. When company comes over, I often ask my second mom for advice on what to fix, as I'm lacking anything that seems fancy enough for guests. But somehow this attracted my attention and I began thinking from time to time about my favorite foods and wondering why all of them are things I eat at restaurants and not things I ever cook at home.

The first problem is, that despite what Flash might tell you, I'm not much of a cook. I can put a meal together, sure, but it's probably meat grilled on the George Foreman, veggies steamed right in the bag and maybe rice or a salad to boot. And while I can more than 50 jars of applesauce and a dozen or more jars of jam each year, there's nothing fancy about my cooking. There's nothing that takes much more than a half an hour to any of my dishes. So, I started looking through my recipe books to find some ideas on my "signature dish".

In my cabinet are 3 cookbooks. Better Homes and Gardens, which J bought me years and years and a lifetime ago when we were married. I use it when I make banana bread. Seriously, that's it. I used to use it for things like pancakes, waffles, cakes and brownies and such, but I've learned the prepared mixes are so much better than my from-scratch versions so those pages have been untouched for a long time now. I also have a recipe book that Stacy sent to me of recipes from the church we used to attend together. I cherish that one for more sentimental than culinary reasons. And then we have MY recipe book. Nothing more than an old small binder, white at one point in its life, now yellowed and covered with various crusted ingredients. It was thick with pages. Some written on fancy recipe pages, some hand written, others ambitiously typed.

For the most part, the recipes I used most from that book were now loosely tucked in the front pocket- having ripped out long ago from frequent use. There you would find my mom's recipe for French Cookies, my grandma's recipe for Jumbo Raisin Cookies, Judy's recipe for lasagna, my own notes on strawberry jam and applesauce.

Within the thick, tabbed pages I held a sundry of recipes. Many torn from magazines with pictures included. Some in the signature of friends. A few printed from an online source. My book included ideas on how to make a dessert more presentable as well as edible. I had recipes for modeling clay and homemade cleansers.

For the most part, my recipe book was a young bride's relic. An optimistic resource created so that I might one day be the perfect wife, the perfect hostess. And then, like the Luvs diaper ads used to proclaim, "Reality hit."

I spent a portion of the other day sorting through the book, tearing out most, keeping little. I held onto my grandmother's recipe for homemade noodles and pie crusts, even though I never imagine making either. I kept recipes for my dad's "college cookies" that my mom used to make when he would come to visit. I even kept a recipe for my ex's favorite birthday cake, hoping that maybe one day my son would make it for his dad.

So now, my poor decrepit, stained, flour-covered binder is all but empty. And while this certainly won't upset my usual cooking routine (while Flash is away, "cooking" is a very relative term to begin with), it would be nice to restock my recipe book, but this time with a more realistic set of pages. While I am still searching for (and once I have a second-eater and opinion-maker in the house, testing out) the perfect signature dish recipe, I really want the casserole you put together last Tuesday night, the one that only needs six ingredients and ten minutes to throw together. I want the soup recipe that you concocted last winter that your daughter said was better than Campbell's. I want that funny little thing you do with green beans written down and shared. Or maybe it's that sangria recipe that you made for company last week. Or the potluck dish you had at the church retreat. And the cake your grandmother made when you came to visit? I want that one, too. What do you make when you have guests? What do you take when you need a dish to pass? What do you put together when you're four days from payday and the fridge seems empty? Tell me your signature dish, or just the one that you make most often. Doesn't have to be fancy at all, probably better if it's not.

Help me fill up my recipe book (after it gets a thorough cleaning) with new delectables. Will you share your favorites with me?

Feel free to post here for all to enjoy or email recipes straight to me at bluered28@yahoo.com.

Wanted

One man.

Needs to have: a passion for Christ, a stable home, a love for children, a great sense of humor, an ability to laugh at himself, a spontaneous side, and a few things he is passionate about (even if they are football, perfecting BBQ chicken and Monty Python movies).

Should be: responsible, financially secure, and able to act his age (most of the time). A great listener, laid-back and able to decipher which secret statement at a party means, "Can we please leave now?"

Might: wish he still owned a motorcycle, be planning a vacation to Maine or Ireland, think the 42" plasma is inadequate for Monday Night Football, have regrets but he's forgiven himself and has moved on.

Doesn't want: me to be his savior, his mother, his housekeeper or his conscience. Prefers not to go shopping at the mall, to endure two chick-flicks in a row, and hates high-maintenance women.

Desires: to keep growing - in faith, in experience, in maturity - and a partner to enjoy the journey. (Secretly wishes to get a 12-point this Thanksgiving.)

Offers: more than just companionship. He wants a relationship that helps us both realize and accomplish our purposes for being here, and the desire to let God lead the way. (Note: might also come with a nice couch and big dog!)

Thinks: that true love is not old-fashioned, a Hollywood myth or something to be taken lightly. He understands it takes hard work, tenacity, courage, and a well-developed sense of humor. Also firmly believes the DH is a cop-out.

Is willing to: Cheer for the Red Sox (and against the Yankees), sit in silence at the lake, handle all things electronic, mechanical or related to plumbing, endure my singing in the car, be vulnerable, make mistakes, risk looking like a fool, and love completely and unconditionally.

Applications are currently being accepted.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Can I Get a Shot for That?

Flash hasn't been to the doctor for a physical since we moved to MI. Since his docs in PA were the last to see him, I had his dad schedule an appointment while he was out there this summer. Today is apparently the day.

Text message from Flash: "today is doc day. ew."

Mom: "hang in there, you've had much worse things to deal with than simple silly shots." (7 teeth extracted, a frenectomy, laser treatments to his face...)

Mom: "Flash? While you're there, take advantage of the doc and ask any questions you have!"

Flash: "Questions? What questions would I have? You mean like, 'is there a cure for crazy'?"

I call them questions about puberty, you call them questions about insanity. It's all the same thing really, isn't it?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

There Should be a Warning Label

on blue corn tortilla chips. That what goes in blue will come out blue.

That's just a fright no one needs at 6am.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Choice is Yours to Make

An old man is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other wolf is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old man replied simply, "The one you feed."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's Good To Have George Back

At the restaurant - "Hey, Aunt Fred, look over there at that thing on the wall. It looks like a rabbit with horns on it's head!!!" (Do we tell him now that a jackalope really exists or just let him think the restaurant is trying to be funny? On second thought, why are we eating at a restaurant that has a jackalope on the wall to begin with?)



At home, watching a reality TV show - George: "This dude is a Canadian." Mom: "No, George, he's a comedian." George: "What's the difference?" (Yeah, come to think of it, what is the difference, eh?)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'm Glad I Was Sitting Down

It really wasn't a huge shocker, considering my child, but still, it's not exactly what you expect your teenager to say.

"Mom? I'm really glad we don't have or watch TV. It's all just junk."



I'd sure love to be playing Yahtzee or Rummykub with that boy tonight.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And To Think He Even Taught Business and Computer Classes

I have been blogging for what, five years now? And in that time, I've been fairly careful about not using my real name, not giving my exact location, not identifying my son, or the relatives in my life. While I realize it wouldn't take an expert detective to figure out who I am, I at least wanted to give some impression that personal security mattered and if, by chance, someone ever took great offense to my review of a book, works for DirectTV, doesn't appreciate my comments about t-shirt slogans on kids or just thought maggots had more rights than my sister demonstrated, I didn't really want to be an easy target to find.

I've used pseudonyms for all of us. I've mentioned my general location but not the specific town, I've never mentioned where I work by name.

For all any of you know, I'm really a 73 year old Asian man, living in Spain, working for a local Italian restaurant. I'm just sayin'.

And then along comes Dad. Dad, who originally refused to read my blog, I think more because he was afraid of the sexual material, parental rage, secret life I lead, personal things he might learn about his daughter than anything else, but has become a follower to the point that there is no need to actually have a phone conversation with him any longer as his replies to my comments about the happenings in my life is, "I know, I read it on the blog." Dad, who has commented twice maybe thrice after he finally came around to reading regularly. Dad. Who, since I changed the comments to require a registered name, had to register yesterday in order to leave his remarkably witty retort about trash in the freezer.

And knowing that blogging is a security risk, knowing what a protector of sacred information he is, knowing how careful he is with his own identity information, my father comes up with the registrated name of "Roger Wilson" and follows up his note by signing it "Dad".

Yep, that'll fool 'em, Dad. I mean Roger, Mr. Wilson, Trash Cryogenics Expert, Protector of the Innocent Bloggers. Sigh.

And they say I have the least of the common sense in the family!!

(By the way, once you make my blog an icon on your iTouch, you're just fair game for blog material. Be forewarned, Jules, Sis, daughter of Roger, Mrs. Jane Doe, you're next.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Not Related

George and Papa were discussing baseball it would seem. George was sharing his love for playing second base and catching. Papa mentioned that someone closely related to George used to love those same two positions. George tried to guess, "my dad? my sister?"

"No, no," Papa replied.

So George kept guessing. He named off nearly every relative he could think of. But none were the one Papa was talking about.

"She's closely related to you. Very close." Papa nudged, trying to get George to realize he was speaking of his mom, Jules.

When George finally gave up guessing and Papa revealed that he had been speaking about George's mom, George replied, "But she's not related to me!!"

"She's not?!" Papa asked incredulously.

"No! She's a girl, she has long hair and I have short hair AND her last name wasn't even the same as mine before!"

Well, there ya go, Jules. Is there any doubt remaining that this boy could possibly be your son?

I didn't think so.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Oh To Be Retired (Yes, it's about You, Dad!)

I've really been impressed as of late. My dad has come a long (LONG) way. He not only has wireless interent at his house and a LAN so he can print from anywhere, not only does he have a huge plasma TV and satellite to the house, but he recently bought himself an iTouch (after getting one for my second mom and watching her love hers so very much).

He even sent me his very first text message the other day and has my blog as an icon on his iTouch.

I'm impressed beyond words.

But when my sister shares that my dad is FREEZING their food trash so it doesn't "stink up the trash"? Yeah, you may have taken a dozen steps forward into the technological era, Dad, but freezing your trash? Yeah, that just aged you. You are SO like your father. (Love ya!)
It was only an uncle and a godfather at first. Then the occasional friend at school. I've noticed it more and more over the years, but it's almost always his peers, rarely adults. He's not adamant about it either way. Call him this, call him that, it's all good in his book.

But today. Today, printed in the church bulletin as a participant for the mission trip this week was his name. Flash's short name. It seemed like a typo to me. I mean, sure, to his buds he's the short version, but always for me, and certainly for official purposes, he's always going to be the full-fledge FLASH, right?

I was sharing this oddity with my sister at which point she said, "Um, Papa and G'ma call him the short version all the time now." WHAT?!?!

When did this happen?

Apparently when he was in TN a couple weeks ago, the cousin he was down there with asked which he preferred and Flash? said the short version. And so the short version it is.

Mind you, I have no problem with this at all. It's exactly WHY he got the name he got (or a name like it anyway). I don't have a name you can shorten. It's just short. There's nothing more formal about it. And I wanted him to have the option.

Which apparently he's decided to start exercising that option.

No matter what the bulletin read this morning, though, he'll always be full-fledged Flash to me.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I just talked with my boy.

Sigh.

He has a week-long missions trip starting Monday and it's just so hard for me to not be there to prepare him (more mentally than the actually packing part, but that too).

I know he's in good hands; his aunt just went on a missions trip out of country. His grandpa is a minister. His nana will make certain he has every necessity. It's just that I'm his mom.

Sigh.

I still have seven or eight weeks until he's back.

Sigh.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

He Drives Me Nuts

It's been going on forever. Seems like the minute I get home in the evening, he's playing his music loud enough to be annoying, but not loud enough to disturb anyone else but me, his downstairs neighbor. Day in, day out, five hours of his urban music choices, it gets old in a hurry. Sure, I've talked with the boy's mom. Sure, they've both arrived at my door with an apology. Sure, I've complained to management. Sure, they've said they've sent letters. But here it is, another typical night at Chez Liza and I'm going stark raving mad with the noise.

I know he's thirteen year old left alone while his mom works second shift. She used to work third shift, and so it was quiet on the northern front during the evenings and he slept while she was at work (most of the time). But now, with her on seconds, he's left to himself until after 11 and so the music goes. I know from his mother that he's teetering on the edge of the very wrong crowd. A mostly B student in school, his troubles come from hanging out with the kids that make the wrong choices.

Tonight I couldn't take it any longer. I will be the first to realize that my house is pretty quiet compared to most. With no TV, there's little to run interference with the noise coming from upstairs. But when I have to put on headsets for the THIRD time in a week just to hear a movie on my computer? It's gotten to be too much.

So I traipsed upstairs and knocked on the door. The music was still blaring, and there was no answer. I tried louder and louder approaches until the music was finally turned off, but no answer at the door. I was frustrated. I returned back to my apartment irritated once again.

I left another voicemail for management (after just having spoken with them on Monday about this ongoing, continuing issue).

It remained quiet upstairs for quite awhile. That isn't a surprise. This boy is often immediately repentant and compliant, but boredom overtakes him eventually and he's back to his old ways.

About an hour and a half later, my buzzer rang. Since we moved in two years ago, no one has ever rung the buzzer except UPS and the boy upstairs. He would never come to the door to ask if Flash could play, he'd always ring the security buzzer out in the hall. And here it was again. I knew immediately it was him. And I knew even before I clicked the button that he wouldn't reply to my inquiry as to who it was. But I also knew there'd be a note outside my door. It's his trademark apology.

I didn't go get it right away. I waited until quite late, actually. I know he's back and forth between his apartment and mine waiting to see if I'll read it. At one point he went around his apartment bouncing a ball just to be blatantly annoying - I'm sure trying to get me to come out and see his note.

I've been thinking about it all night. I HATE the noise. I hate the lack of respect. I get that he's only thirteen, but dealing with this every.single.day is causing me angst. But then I think of him and how he's left on his own from 2 until after 11 every single day. And during the summer there's not even school to keep him busy for any portion of that. He never has friends over, never seems to go anywhere unless he and his mom go together and so it's easy to see how his days would get long and his time would get dull.

His note begs me not to tell his mom and apologized every which way he can think of. Full of spelling and grammatical errors, it's much more a note of an child half his age. But I read it with a heavy heart.

And so I decided to try something different. I don't have a way of getting ahold of his mom, and I rarely see her any more, so I had to resort to a note back, but I'm hoping it works. In my note, I asked his mom if maybe he would like to come play a game with me in the evening. Maybe come outside and play washers, or there's always my favorite - Yahtzee! Just something to do since Flash is gone for the summer and maybe the two of us would enjoy the company.

I don't know if he'll feel comfortable enough to do so, but outside of our noise altercations, he's always remarkably polite to me, so perhaps it would be okay.

I just worry that with continued time on his hands, this boy is going to let trouble find him. In greater ways than just annoying his rather quiet downstairs neighbor. And since I seem to have the time, maybe investing some of it in him wouldn't be such a bad idea.

Let's hope they go for it.