Sunday, June 30, 2013

Stop, Smile, Sniff....

I truly don't understand... I am sitting here enjoying my breakfast and coffee looking at the rising sun reflecting off the beautiful flowers hubby brought me yesterday, and I simply don't get it! Why have flowers been delegated to something simply reserved for a special occasion?  There wasn't one, he just knows I love flowers and he brought me a bouquet yesterday.  They are beautiful and vibrant, a perfect balance colors and scents, and most importantly they make me smile! They make me feel loved and treasured.

He was telling me about standing in line yesterday, he'd gone to pick up stuff for us to make breakfast together and he decided I needed flowers, a woman and her husband were standing just a bit in front of him.  It was one of those kinds of moments that are awkward, that there really is no comfortable way to deal with. The woman, looking at the flowers, kept repeating to her husband... "see that?"  (Okay guys, just a tip... that is our not so subtle way to point out that we are feeling neglected in the floral department.)  Her poor hubby just kept looking at anything but the beautiful bouquet.  I am sure in his head he was cursing hubby to death!

I have to tell you that is one thing the Europeans understand.  I think we need to understand it here in America.  We live in a floral desert here in this country. Everywhere you turn in Europe, are flower stands, not even shops, just stands.  Flowers are purchased daily, by everyone.  There are fresh cut flowers brightening homes, lovers give them to their loves, children to their parents, and parents to their children.   There are fresh flowers everywhere! 

Flower vendors on the Grote Markt in Brussels
And unlike in this country you will not have to consider selling your first born to buy them. Just about a year ago hubby and I were wandering the streets of Heidelberg, we were in the middle of our backpacking trip through Germany. In the light drizzle, on the town square just outside of the Cathedral, he bought me a rose.  It was a beautiful orange rose (those are my favorites). 

If he had done that here in the US I would have been upset.  Oh I would have enjoyed it, but because it cost so much I would have been upset that I had no where to put it to protect it to enjoy it longer.  There I relished it.  The fragrance, the beauty, the way it chased away the gloom and seemed to beckon the sunshine and drive away the rain.  For hours I carried that little bloom with me, smiling.  Inside and outside I was happy!  That little bloom cost only a few cents, it made my day wonderful, and he couldn't stop marveling at how little it had cost.
Flowers at the Farmers Market in Mainz

Flowers, in my opinion, calm people.  They are gracious and dignified.  The pull you back to a simpler time when sheer beauty was all that mattered. 

I fear in my beloved country that is something we are losing or have lost.  The graciousness of a flower or a bouquet.  The gentle feelings it gives both the giver and receiver. 

I am so thankful that hubby gets it.  I don't get flowers for special occasions, because I get them for all occasions and they make them special!  A gloomy day, hubby is bound to show up in my office with something cheery to make me smile.  I can't tell you how many days that were a struggle, when nothing seemed to be going right that I have walked back into my office from a meeting or dealing with something and there sitting on my desk is some type of flower.  A single mum with a pipe cleaner smiley face on it, a bouquet of sunflowers (one of my favorites), a delicate lily, a bouquet of orange roses (I am not a rose fan, they are too fragile and don't last long enough... but orange roses simply melt my heart!), or a personal favorite of mine is a cheery mixed bouquet.  Where I can slowly remove the ones that were more fragile and continue to enjoy those that are in no hurry to fade away.

We can be grocery shopping and at the last minute a bouquet shows up in the cart, he will run out for dog food and bring back flowers, there is no reason - just because.  It makes them so special, to know I am thought of when he sees beauty... what a powerful feeling!

I can tell you over the years it has caused more than a few hard, awkward feelings. When people I love are jealous because their hubby didn't think to send them flowers. It makes me sad.  Sad that more people cannot enjoy the gift of flowers.  I wish they were everywhere.  I wish it was like years ago in Germany when we came across a pick your own sunflower field.  In the middle of the field of sunflowers was a simple box to leave payment.  I loved to go there, for very little I could spoil myself and my family with the beauty of a sunflower to celebrate a passing season.

Even little bits love to receive a bouquet!
When money has been tight, hubby has been known to show up with a bouquet of wild flowers.  Nothing will make you smile bigger or feel more loved than the image of your big tough guy handing you a bouquet of wild Black-eyed Susan's, because he knows you adore them.  Except of course maybe the story of how he gathered them that goes with it!

I wish that here in America we hadn't forgotten that flowers are always an appropriate gift, I wish they weren't so expensive.  I love that Aldi's and Schnucks are finally understanding that.  I don't mind $5 for a bouquet, they last for such a fleeting moment... but what they do to the heart and soul lasts forever. Too bad we don't have more roadside vendors or folks in the disappearing town squares selling them from colorful tents and stands.  Giving us all a reason to smile, stop and sniff... and then to share that happiness with everyone we love.

Your Benefits MAY Include... WHAT??!!??

Just when you think you've seen it all...It kind of makes you wonder what is going on in this country doesn't it?  What kind of lawsuits have happened or have the potential to happen?

As we were leaving I noticed this sign.  No, I am not looking to go to work for another company, but I am a curious person.  And I wanted to see what kind of  benefits they offered...

Hold it, STOP... am I the only one (doubtful) that caught the fact that the sign very clearly says "MAY" include?

So if they hire you... your benefits MAY include...

> Friendly Workplace - okay - guess that is fair, you never can tell the kind of people you will work with, and lets be honest not everyone gets along.  Everyone has a horror co-worker story. No promises there...

> Flexible Hours - again I will go with fair, last time I was hired for a job and told I could have flexible hours... it ended up being flexible for them, even if it meant I barely got 8 hours off between closing and opening shifts, with no bathroom breaks. That was asking them to be too flexible... so seriously... just what do you have to do to be eligible for those flexible hours and who are they flexible for??

> Full Medical Package (including health and dental) - now lets be reasonable here... if you have read about Obamacare, you know exactly how they are going to get around that one, so lets not split hairs here.  And after all they only said you may get those benefits.

> 401K - I can understand that one... most places don't even consider offering those kind of benefits for years... fair enough...

> Competitive Salary - well since this is Illinois, the minimum is already fairly high, so it would seriously depend on who you are competing against. I mean $8.25 is a pretty high minimum and if you are competing against Missouri, you are already well above them.  But that isn't really a living wage... and well you only "may" be eligible for one of the competitive ones...

> Store Merchandise Discount - Okay this one just made me giggle.  Seriously, do you have to work a certain number of hours, or if you have brown hair, or work on Wednesday's?  I just found that funny - because if you are hired by them that "may" be one of your benefits. Does that mean that only certain people get discounts?

Oh I get the fact that some of those may apply to part time or full time employees only.  That is only reasonable.  And I also get that financially speaking a business can't stay in business when all their profit goes to benefits.  But seriously??  I mean realistically, wouldn't it have not appeared so odd, to simply say you offer a benefit package?

Instead, as the woman standing there beside us as I was laughing about the sign said "do you think it's a typo?" No... I think it was intentional.  I think that by adding "MAY" in there, they could showcase the benefits that some in the company will get, and the rest of the people that apply can hope they get... but it makes you wonder what exactly do you have to do to earn those "may include" benefits?  Just how dynamic do you have to be to work in a knock off hardware store where everything is made in either Taiwan, Vietnam or China? And if you are dynamic enough can you get all those benefits??

Yep... only in America... definitely great for a laugh on this rainy, stormy, hail filled day!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Shut it off!! It's Saturday!!!!

It takes a special kind of stupid to forget on Friday night to shut off the alarm, and it makes for a giant Saturday morning failure. 

Yep, I would be describing me, I am the special one.  So there can be no complaining.  Usually I am awake before it goes off, so I don't think about it.  Today I was sound asleep and trying to figure out what was going on.  The only thing worse is to wake up with the feeling of not knowing what day it is and feeling rushed to get ready for work, when it's SATURDAY!  Today = FAIL!

Since I'm up... it's time for coffee and then some serious house and yard work.  I hate that I get so worn out during the week that keeping up with all of it turns into a huge nightmare.  In a few hours time I will have all of it done and by the time normal people are awake I will be able to start my weekend. So maybe it was actually fate that I forgot?

Not sure what we are going to do, although we did toy with the idea of going to pick some blackberries at Eckerts.  They are ready for picking and I would love to make some blackberry jam.  I just don't know if I have the energy.  I have been pushing into that old energy supply pretty heavy lately and I am starting to feel the effects. Besides that... we never have bread.  I hate American bread, always have, but since we've been back from Germany it's even harder for me to eat it and I just don't have time to bake good bread daily.  And jam without bread is well... useless!

I misunderstood my sister's text message and thought they were coming to town this weekend, and it's really next week and weekend. So I cleared the wrong weekend.  Therefore, two beautiful, unattached days stretch out before hubby and I.  And according to the news the weather is supposed to cool off, great news!  I am not a fan of summer - at all! What to do...

I have a feeling what we will do is simply kick back and just be... I will work on my quilt blocks and remind him that he needs to find the pictures he wants for his.  Maybe we will watch a movie.  I don't know if there is anything going on we want to be part of.  The Pride Fest is going on downtown, we will skip it, neither of us are fans of large crowds. We haven't had time to get hubby's bike into the shop, so a ride is out of the question.  Not sure if I want to participate in any outside activities anyway, the bugs are brutal this year and I am hating on the ticks.

I have given up on getting my garden in, between work and the rain here it is almost July and there is nothing planted, beds are in rough shape.  I feel like this year simply isn't going to happen, and I think I am okay with it.  I will miss the freshness, but like I said, I am really worn out, so...

I learned a long time ago, that sometimes I have to accept the fact that I simply don't have enough energy for all the things I love to do and that sometimes things have to be left behind for a bit.  It's all because of those stupid ticks anyhow, and I have had enough fear this week because of them.

It's been 16 years now and I am still terrified of those things.  Oh I will deal with them, but the terror in my heart because of them is hard to deal with.  This week I was so afraid.  I only found one that had actually connected to me so I wasn't too stressed, but when I started feeling yucky on Wednesday night, my heart sank. Waking up dizzy on Thursday scared me more... the fact that I was feeling so many of the horrible things I had felt when I got Lyme all those years ago almost had me in a panic.  Thursday night was a struggle, the exhaustion was almost over whelming. I hated the dizzy feeling. I was freezing.  I was hurting. Hubby kept trying to take me to the doctor (I loathe doctors), today it is better.  Maybe it was simply pure exhaustion, I have been keeping quite a pace lately, if it isn't better by Monday I will go see one of those "doctors"... stupid ticks...

What are you going to do with your weekend??

Thursday, June 27, 2013

On a Soap Box

It seems to me that the older I get the more I notice things.  I am not sure if it is me personally or the fact that it seems like the world is simply getting crazier.

If you turn on the news, read a paper, magazine, listen to the radio, or simply talk to a group of friends anymore it doesn't take a minute to realize things are simply not good.  I hate it! The alarm (radio) has been playing for 15 minutes, I can only here snippets as it is in the other room.  So far... I have heard twice about the President's $100 million dollar trip to Africa, the Zimmerman trial, Paula Dean's admission after almost 30 years, the attack on the coal industry, a reminder about Snowden, and the Arab Spring's far reaching effects.  And that is all on NPR, usually not such heavy stuff this early in the day.

I didn't hear any positive stories, no one is talking about a cure to any disease or a puppy or anything that might make people feel good. 

I wonder if I am going crazy, I wonder sometimes if we aren't being programmed to expect all this bad stuff.  I don't know. I do know that I am concerned.  Very concerned.

I feel sorry for Paula Dean, I also feel like there is some serious censorship happening in our country.  Good, bad or indifferent we do have freedom of speech in this country.  I am not a Paula Dean fan, I do not record all the episodes of her show or buy her cook books.  I will admit I have made a few of her recipes (she has a mean gooey butter cake!), and her company makes a peach salad dressing that is amazing - low calories, no fat and multiple uses.  That is kind of the extent of my knowledge of her.  I am sorry, I am not going to jump on the band wagon of crucifixion for something she admits to saying decades ago, especially when you can turn on so many music stations and hear the same thing.  Don't want the word used, then lead that change by not using it.  I think she is being used as a diversion.

We have big problems right now, huge problems.  And I simply don't feel they are the cause or blame of any one party or person.  Oh I do feel there are certain people that have advanced the problems a hundred times quicker than anyone could have imagined.  I am horrified at how our constitution is being butchered and dismantled and how we are for the most part being complacent.

I don't believe the government has the right to "spy" on the American people, sorry... no.  I do not doubt for a second that everything I have ever typed into my computer or phone are backed up somewhere, please, what expectation of privacy can any of us have?  Google yourself... if it has ever had your name attached to it, it's out there.  But I am sickened to think the Government is the one storing it.  I guess no one should be surprised, as technology has soared, it has just made it easier.  Seriously, this has been going on since the beginning of time, we just don't need investigators now for the dirt on all of us to be collected.

The IRS, seriously?  These are the folks that will be running our health care?  Seriously?  Frankly that in and of itself is insanity - where in a normal world do you link health and taxes?  Really?  And even if that connection was too far removed to follow, do we really want the same people that cannot "catch" $47million dollars in tax returns being sent to the same address and all to illegal aliens being the ones to decide what medical care we receive? As for targeting conservative groups, that is simply shameful, but really?  I am sure over the decades they have targeted many different groups, this time they got caught. Hasn't tax evasion been used to bring down quite a few "bad guys" over the years?

I am not sure how I feel about Snowden, part of me feels he's a hero.  We had the right as American's to know what our government was and is doing.  The other part of me wonders about the places he is reaching out to for protection.  China?  Russia?  Cuba?  Ummmm... something smells fishy... another distraction?

Everyone deserves a vacation, I completely understand the need.  And I am sure being President is a tough job.  I have never felt that any President, and no I don't care what party, needs to vacation on the American taxpayers dime.  And I have never felt they need to take their entire family with them on "business", because then it is automatically perceived as a holiday.  If they want a vacation, they need to do exactly like the people they serve, pay for it from their own wallet and use common sense.  Would those vacations be as lavish if the money was coming out of their own bank accounts?  And I don't feel that applies strictly to the President, but to any elected official.  They need to remember they are servants of the people, not the other way around.  I am furious as a tax payer that my White House is still closed to tours, but the President and his family can go on a lavish vacation.  Frankly, it's gross...

The only thing positive that seems to have come out of the news was the Supreme Court decision on DOMA and Prop 8 yesterday.  I am not for or against gay marriage, I don't feel it personally affects me and therefore my voice is not one that needs to be heard. I am simply thankful that for the fact that the government was basically told to get out of our bedrooms and marriages.  Marriage is not a government institution, they need to step out.  Culture, society and people will make the changes that need to be made, it's the natural evolution of things... I am thankful the Supreme Court realized that.

This year has really been a rotten one for news.  It's only June and our 1st, 2nd, and 4th amendments are under heavy attack.  The division in this country on the basis of race, gender, and income is growing more disgusting and stupid by the minute.

I for one want a story of a puppy dog finding a new home, a cure for a horrible disease, a veteran that comes home and has a warm welcome and their job waiting for them.  I am searching for something good in a sea of bad.  And I am praying that ignorance and complacency has not insured a world completely different for my sweet grand baby.   I pray that there is still hope.  I am tired of the hatred and bitterness.

Whew... guess I was on a soap box today... might be time to find an easy listening station to wake up to....

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Stitch and Rip...

Hubby looking at the Smoke Tree during our walk yesterday
It's one of those days... The kind that makes me want to stay curled up in my overstuffed chair with a steaming cup of coffee, working on my quilt blocks.  Maybe it was waking up to the news - which is never good lately.  Or maybe it's the weather forecast, thunderstorms always bring out a nesting instinct in me. 

Oh I won't be, I have a busy day planned out ahead of me, but I seriously would love to kick back and do it. 

My quilting class last night was so fun, we really spent some quality time on each quilt, chatting and working together.  V's two quilts are finally finished and next week I will help her start to tie each one.  I love that they all picked a different way to finish them. It is wonderful to watch all the different personal choices in layout, sewing and quilting create such different quilts. 
Prepping for tying
S has just gotten in so deeply, that I am certain before long she will be leading the class.  She made a beautiful table runner and quilted it already, at home.  She is working on a slightly more challenging one in class. This weekend she is signed up to take an applique class at a local sewing center.  As soon as she believes us about her skills, she is going to be unstoppable. 

Beautiful table runner coming to life!
Hubby is making great progress on his, but I didn't manage to get a picture last night.  He was really in the groove. I don't know if he noticed last night or not, but I did as I was helping him pin the rows together, that his stitches and seams are getting so uniform and straight.  They matched up perfectly. He struggles a bit with the pinning, because various accidents over the years have left him with limited feeling and use of his left hand, so pinning and sometimes rotary cutting are a challenge.  He was thinking about what to do for his next project last night, and I have to admit, I am kind of excited about the idea.  In fact I am very excited about the idea, I love the way his mind works sometimes (insert wicked laugh here)!

I did a bit of ironing on my blocks, but the needle never touched the fabric. It was tough not to, but when I am leading the class I rarely stay still for a few minutes.

I have found I dearly look forward to quilting with the group on Tuesday's. I hope each will continue to come.  When I started the quilting group, it was to raise revenue, my "goal" was to increase the revenue column on my end of months doing something I love.  It was a combination of need meeting want and a hope. 

Now... I can tell you if our group stops coming I am going to miss it dreadfully!  I enjoy chatting with them, sharing stories of quilts in our families past and present.  I learn so much each week.  I feel like part of a community, I hope we can grow it.  Isn't it considered magic when you can combine work and passions?  I was exhausted by the afternoon yesterday, by class time I was excited and full of energy.

I wonder if today will have magic?  For now I need to get ready, this storm means we will have to leave a bit earlier for work. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Don't Blink....

Home away from Home...
Four days... gone... it seems it was just Friday morning, the sun was rising over the lake and there was silence all around.  This morning it was jarring to hear the alarm go off and realize that I need to go to work. 

It's sad to realize how quickly vacation days fly.  Yesterday, zipped past.  I am sure it was the realization that it was the last day.  I remember looking at the clock and it was just six am and the sun was rising up over the ridge.  I sat down with my coffee, quilting and the last disk of my audio book.  What seemed like minutes was hours and it was almost noon when I looked up again.

Those four days were powerful.  Very powerful.  I didn't manage to make any earth shattering decisions, I didn't plan my entire future or whatever else might have seemed important.  I simply stopped.  Completely.

Storm clouds are rolling in....
I feel so refreshed.  Although it will be tough to go to work today, the quilt blocks aren't finished, but the book is.  I already miss the quiet.

Hubby has it under control, but it sure doesn't look like it.
I felt so connected to my great grandmother, she started the blocks so long ago.  For years they have been sitting in a basket waiting for me to decide it was time to start again.  I refuse to take them out of my work bag until they are finished now. 

 While I pieced the blocks this weekend, I remembered snippets of story's I have heard over the decades of how great gramma had collected her fabrics from everywhere.  I used to wonder if they were true.  As I stitched the Dresden Plates to the backings and started on the ones she never finished I realized they were right.  There were seams throughout the pinks, I think it might have been a dress at some point. The feed sack fabrics had a different feel than some of the shirting fabrics. 

As I marveled at the tiny stitches she took, I wondered if she had spent evenings working on them.  Maybe talking with my Great Aunt Lois.  She was very talented with a needle.  I have a strong desire to finish this quilt and wrap up in it.  It will feel like a hug from the past. 

My memories of my Great Gramma are limited.  She passed away a long time ago.  I was in 9th grade and lived in Germany. I remembered the visits to her house, vaguely.  By the time I was old enough to form forever memories of her on those few trips back home, she was ill and all I remember is the card table with the puzzle always beside the sofa.  Tons of salt and pepper shakers and the craft closet at the top of the stairs. I knew she was talented, and cherished all the gifts she made me.  She is the reason that I love to give homemade gifts.  They came from the heart.  They mattered to me.

Time flies past, whether we are doing something we love, or simply living life it is always moving faster than we want.  Odd it only slows down is when we are doing something we really don't want to do.  Something that is painful or dreary.  Then time crawls...

I tried not to blink this weekend.  I slept, I laughed, I stitched, I ran from rain drops and I enjoyed time with my best friend! 
Neeko waiting to go out...
Gator and Daddy catching a quick nap after working outside...

Don't blink...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Should we stay or should we go?

So Mom... what do you think about the changes?
It’s been an interesting stay here at our place in the country.  We have new neighbors, lots of them.  There are bobcats growling as ground is being cleared, 18 wheelers delivering loads of lumber to the folks building a cabin, trucks pulling in new campers and old ones.  There is a flurry of activity.

The peaceful little cove, where we could hide from the world is altered.  And I am torn as whether it is good or bad. It seems okay.  The ones up the hill from us are a family.  They bought the piece of land by us and the one across the street from them.  There is a father, son and son-in-law, and usually a five year old boy, but he isn’t here this weekend. Hubby met them last night when we went for a drive to toss the trash and fill water jugs (we still haven’t invested in water and sewer – it’s a big step and we want to be sure it is something we truly want to do before we go there), I was so tired from all the allergy medicines that I simply sat in the car and listened.  

The ones below us, the ones building a cabin, we haven’t met them yet.  We’ve been told they are a younger couple.  I am thinking if you are buying a piece of land down in our area you aren’t coming to party, but I guess we will find out.  It still seems very quiet down here. The view is altered, it’s not as wild and rugged looking, but it’s not bad.  Actually looking at all the changes has me thinking. 

Do we keep our little piece of paradise, and make the effort to come down here more?  Or do we part with it?

When we picked it, we envisioned our children loving coming down here, hanging out with us, camping bonding, and quality together time.  As time has moved on, we find that the oldest doesn’t want to drive this far (although it is much closer – 40 minutes – to her new home); the boy that was raised camping and outside does not want anything at all to do with the great outdoors.  And the twins, there is no internet, no phone service and they want nothing at all to do with something like that.  So… it is simply ours.  

I love being down here, I could hide for days. It forces me to focus on the things important to me without all the noise and chaos of everyday life at home.  I am working on a quilt, during past visits I have made tons of socks and sweaters.  Things to fill my world and calm my mind, all while listening to books on CD or talking to hubby and planning dreams. I could move here.  

I worry that hubby gets bored.  He is so into technology that I can sense the pacing before it even happens.  I tried to pick up a movie for him yesterday, that he could watch when he ran out of things to keep him busy, but we’d already seen it and it now needs taken back to the store.  Fail. 

He and the boys have just taken a drive, he was going up to the bath house, and I am enjoying my coffee in complete silence – except for the air conditioner running.  I truly could walk away from it all and stay here forever.  

My favorite of our neighbors lives at the top of the hill on our dead end road.  Kim watches diligently from her little spot.  She and Lucy, her beautiful rescue lab mix, are always on guard, we never have to worry about vandals or anyone damaging our world.   She lives here year round in the most precious little house.  It isn’t huge, but it’s enough. I love it.  She gave me the grand tour last year.  I want one just like it, actually just like it but a fraction bigger, need room for hubby and the boys.  I know where I want the house.  It’s just a bit down the hill from where our camper is now.  Did I mention that I am a bit of a recluse?  I don’t want huge, I don’t want sprawling.  I do want comfortable though. 

The house I envision there is big enough that we aren’t crowded, maybe a split level, I am not a huge fan of stairs.  Open floor plan with a fireplace for the cool months. Probably two or three bedrooms – because who knows someone might finally want to stay here with us, and a couple of bathrooms, room for more than just us, but not a ton of it. A wide wrap around deck, with rocking chairs on it… 

Kim is living my dream, not completely, because I don’t want to be pushing sixty, living completely alone out here. Although I could live alone out here, it’s just not what I want. She works from home, making beautiful jewelry.  I want to be able to live peacefully, doing what makes me happy, supporting myself and having just enough. 

I don’t know if I like the changes here.  I am not a fan of making new friends and being nice.  Considering what I do for a living that is actually quite funny.  But I am slow to warm up.  Slow to want to be part of a group.  I want to study the dynamics and then make my choice.  Hubby is an immediate friend with everyone.  

We have time to make those decisions. We have time to reevaluate our choices.  We own our land and camper free and clear.  Taxes are crazy cheap – I spend more on a dinner out than a year of taxes.  And Kim said once you put a house on it, it’s only $250 or less a year.  The annual fees for the community are less than that.  And the electric out here is very reasonable.  Hmmm…. So much to consider…. Do we plan our dreams out here; do we ultimately put the house in town up for sale and move?  Is the commute worth it? So much to think about… 

Maybe I finally make friends out here.  I could become more social… 



I remember when I first went to a Wal-Mart… I was awe struck.  I had just come home from a visit from Germany; we didn’t have those things there.  And I hadn’t been in a K-mart or Hills in years.  It was before the days of Target and Ventures.  

Back then over 20 years ago, that was when it was new and fresh, back when they prided themselves on being the stewards of Made in the USA.  It was like the most amazing experience, everything under one roof.  True one stop shopping.  I remember being excited when Wertheim’s became Wal-Mart in Germany.  So exciting…

Today, I am not so sure I can tell you I am awe struck, at least not in a positive way.  Today I question the need of having a super store.  Today, I dare you to find anything with a Made in the USA tag or label; shoot even most of the food isn’t grown here in these United States. 

I am not a Wal-Mart shopper as a rule.  I try to avoid it, although sometimes you simply can’t. 

This morning I couldn’t.  We are down in the country this weekend, and Hubby had to work this morning in another small town about 20 miles away.  I went along, mainly because my eye was swollen shut (that’s another story) and because we had arrived late last night and needed to pick up a few provisions.
After a quick doctor stop, I decided I would go to the only store in town and pick up what we needed while he worked so we had more time to enjoy our little place. 

Not surprising, seems Wal-Mart is ubiquitous with small town USA, and it was my option.  If I had been in Sullivan I would have gone to the little market in town that I simply adore, but it wasn’t meant to be, I was not driving 35 miles each way and then 20 back.  Nope.  

Maybe it is just me - maybe I am a magnet for all the darkness Wal-Mart has come to mean.  Ironically or not, everywhere I turned there was an angry parent using profanity and cursing at a small child, someone in their slippers and hair curlers, so many stereotypes that come to life when you walk into Wal-Mart.  It doesn’t matter what city, town or state, seems folks simply click the check box to leave their dignity and manners at the door when they shop there. 

I felt like I fit right in this morning, my eye swollen shut (no make-up… what’s the point), my bun sliding down because my glasses pulled it loose.  All I needed was a couple of kids that were filthy and I would have been simply normal.  

I have to wonder if Wal-Mart and what it has come to represent will mean it ever goes the way of K-marts (around here they are closing fast) or Venture’s.  Or will they continue to grow, will they continue to encourage people to display that their give a damn is busted, will they continue to shut down the local shops and put mom and pop out of business?

Personally, I’d rather pay a few dollars more or buy a bit less if it means that whatever your dialect, accent or choice of words is I don’t have to hear profanity being screamed at a young child, I don’t have to buy stuff that isn’t going to last a minute, and that I know my pet food and my own food aren’t laced with God knows what from China. 

I think I am going to fall into the category of believers that Wal-Mart is not a good thing.  It used to be, but now… it is simply a place where folks can leave their manners at the door and display their worst behaviors. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Girl Interrupted... I've never read the book or seen the movie... but this morning downstairs in my sewing room I completely understood the feeling! I was searching for a few bits and pieces, a hand piecing project to take with me this weekend when we head to the country. 

I was completely lost.  In ten years I have managed to accumulate a lot stuff down there.  I was stunned, absolutely stunned to see all the unstarted ideas and projects.  It was frightening to see all the ones that I had started and put down for a minute while life got in the way.  Covered in dust.

This morning I came face to face with piles of projects.  There is needlework, quilts in various stages, yarn bought for projects never started, roving still waiting to be spun and homespun waiting to have something made out of it.  I was so amazed... so overwhelmed.

Standing there digging through the piles of projects looking for just the right one to take with me, I realized I needed to start completing things.  I realized that I needed to stop looking for new projects, and start completing all the old ones.

What drove it home even more was the project I picked... After looking through everything that was piled around my space, all the treasures I had started and never finished, the project I ultimately chose to work on was started over 50 years ago, by my great-grandmother.  Given to me by my Grammie with her hand written instructions on what Great Grandma had planned when she started it all those decades ago.  It is beautiful work, as I run my fingers over the hand stitches I am connected in a deep way to family roots that run deep.  I am blessed to have these pieces of the past, of my past to complete.

I started to wonder, 50 years from now, is anyone going to lovingly caress my unfinished projects.  Will a descendant of mine want to connect with me and finish my projects?  Or will all the things that are important to me simply be tossed in a bag and sent off to Goodwill for someone else to pick up and finish. 

That idea simply makes me ill. 

I opened one box, it's my nine-patch box... I remembered starting it, but not the rest of the story... a lot has happened since that box was first created. There are large parts of time that I can't pull out of the fog, luckily a sweet lady named Dawn had written me a letter from Japan when she mailed some blocks to me.  It told me the things I had forgotten.  It filled in some of the blanks.  Some of the ladies that made blocks in that box have passed away.  All have left my life, the military and life moved us all on.  But I remembered, sitting there digging through that box, our Sunday quilting group, bottles of wine, laughter and being part of something bigger. 

I am heading out tonight for the weekend.  I probably will have no internet connection, so my posts won't happen until I get home on Monday.  I think during that time, while I am enjoying my place of peace, in between fishing, card games, swimming and campfires with my sweet hubby, boys and grand baby and unwinding I am going to spend time working on the two projects that I have taken with me. 

Over the course of next week I think it's time to inventory all my various projects.  Time to evaluate if they are things I want to finish or something I might want to consider donating for someone else to finish.  I believe it's time to focus.  To complete a few things before moving on with future plans and ideas.  I will probably plan to sell some of the supplies and books that at some point I was sure I needed. And donate some of the fabrics for projects that I never got around to and no longer have any desire to do.

This girl needs to get uninterrupted...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Stop the hating...

Today was rough... It was a series of hiccups all morning long.  Nothing went smoothly... in fact it was so stressful... I was getting more upset by the hour.  It wasn't anything in particular, just a long line of oh my goodness moments.

At lunch hubby and I went for a walk and sushi, it was meant to "talk me off the cliff" that my morning had escalated into.  I think it was the opposite, but not in a bad way.  What I saw while walking infuriated me, right out of the stress.

I was literally sickened by it, and angry, and wanting to scream when I saw it.  Instead... I looked at hubby and said "and they wonder what is wrong with this city"...

We are one street over from Washington Ave.  It used to be dumpy, full of empty store fronts, graffiti and homeless folks.  Over the past decade it has come around, all kinds of trendy stores, restaurants and night clubs.  It is a busy, happening area.  Very metropolitan and hopping.

Several local places are located there also.  Little mom and pops that we love to frequent.  But today called for sushi... As we were walking down the street there was a new shop, young, vibrant, trendy.  Not someplace we would shop, but definitely a popular shop with younger people.

It was in that window that I lost my temper.  In the window, prominently displayed was a t-shirt.  Solid black with white letters across the front... "Kill Whitey" -- What??  Are you kidding me?  I am all for free speech and freedom of expression.  But in our neighborhood, it's inflammatory.  I Googled it... I found lots of references to it being about a crime boss in Boston, toilets and unpleasant deaths. I am not sure if that is something it would be taken for.  St. Louis has some serious race issues.  I don't understand why, I've never lived in an area like this before.  And I can't help but feel like selling a shirt with verbiage like that is nothing but an opportunity for trouble.

It infuriated me.  It offended me.  Frankly, I don't care what it refers to... it seems like random words put together with the hope to cause chaos, especially in our area.  Oh, I'm not hip or cool, I don't get the young folks idea of funny.  I sometimes wonder if they shouldn't consider all aspects of what an item could mean before they use it.

There were 18 people shot last week here, 18... does it matter what kind of "Kill" message we are speaking of? Or was it just an opportunity for some socially awkward person to look cool? Why even slightly take a risk of someone taking that "wrong"...

On the plus side it caused my blood pressure to boil until it calmed.  We live in a very outrageous world, we have governments wanting to arm terrorists, we have people shooting at each other for stupid reasons (if one exists at all), we have stores being robbed for weaves (seriously people!)!! And through it all the calm, normal (what is normal) people spend their days and nights working hard to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table and one step ahead of an increasingly crooked tax man.  It's hard, it's stressful... and for it I am thankful.

I went back to work, and had the opportunity to hear about what is happening at camp.  I heard how the kids are responding to a strong positive role model.  I got to meet with my quilting gang, wow there was some magic happening in there tonight.  And I got to have have several phone calls with the angel that is my grand baby...

I can't focus on hate, destruction and dominance.  It is happening all around me and it makes me sick.  Is that t-shirt a reference to some horrid crime boss in Boston?  Or an expression of hate?  Frankly it seems like one and the same anymore.   I am tired of it.  I wish we could all take a minute to feel for our fellow man, to understand what is going on and why...

It's time for people to realize that hatred is not a family value.

The day ended wonderful... I can do a bit more wonderful...

Monday, June 17, 2013

He didn't have to be...

Garden not in - check, laundry not done - check, floor not vacuumed - check... wow based on the usual to do list, I did absolutely nothing this weekend.  So why do I feel so accomplished?  Why does it feel like I am rested and relaxed?  Especially knowing all that stuff is waiting for me?

Maybe because instead my list looked something more like this... quality family time - check, quilted hubby's quilt - check, worked on needlepoint gift - check, cuddled my dogs - check, listened to the rain - check.  Not the usual list, a better list.  I feel like I am a bit more ready to face the week.

Oh the house isn't clean, I can tackle that this morning, I didn't accomplish much of anything that I normally feel validates my life.  And yet surprisingly I feel ... I guess calm, relaxed, refreshed.  I need to reevaluate my life.

Yesterday, I stumbled onto some old songs that make my heart both happy and sad.  Songs that have meaning in my life.  I always tease hubby about the amount of music he always plays, he always has something on.  I love music too, but as we have different tastes, and I don't care for most of the stuff out there now I just listen to whatever he is listening too.  He is more of a smooth jazz guy.  Don't get me wrong, I completely enjoy smooth jazz, but I am a country girl.  And I truly love the older stuff be it country, big band, the Rat Pack.... it's a pretty extensive list.  For me songs have deep meanings, I guess that is why I love country so much.

Grampa and his Angel!
While I was thinking about father's day yesterday.  And looking for the song Daddy's Hands - which always makes me think of my Dad.  I came across another song. One that resonates so loudly with me and so many I love.  He didn't have to be - Brad Paisley is kind of a soundtrack to large parts of my life.

In the perfect world each of us marries our sweetie when we are young, we have our children, we grow old together and never meet the struggles of starting over, of blending families, of all the things that make that not the case.

Me... I am bull headed and stubborn (no idea where my kids get that trait), and I chose a different path.  Couple of times. And each time my kids were blessed.  My beautiful daughter often points out that she has had three dad's.  When my ex decided he had fallen in love and walked away, my son and I were blessed that hubby was there.  Each time my kids and I were most vulnerable, I was blessed.  At each point I was in my life, there was a man that didn't have to be, that did. 

My hubby had the most amazing Dad.  It will always be a mystery as to why they are mirror images of each other, but when he was ten that man rescued him and loved him into adulthood.  He was the driving force in shaping the gentle teddy bear that I love with all my heart.  I can never tell him thank you, but I like to think he knows that I know he didn't have to be, but did.  He raised him to be an amazing person, and a great daddy....

My niece just got married this month.  I don't know her husband, I've never met him.  But I am praying that he will be an amazing daddy to her sweet little boy, the daddy he didn't have to be but signed up for the job just the same.

The Cousins!
I remember back to when my sister got remarried, and her little doll of a daughter stood up there proud beside my brother in law, he didn't have to be... but he did.  That little girl just graduated college.  And I am not sure who was prouder, Mom or him.  Her father was there, but he had not been half the daddy my brother in law had been.

Then once more I watched one of the men in our lives step up to be the daddy he didn't have to be.  My sister found the perfect Dad for her little boy.  His bio dad flits in and out of the picture - when it is convenient, but his Dad - he's been there all along.  Taught him to drive, hunt, be a good man.  Had his hands full... he didn't have to be, but he did.

Our girls and Matt at Dad's birthday
That song is so powerful to me.  Because it celebrates those wonderful Dad's.  The ones that didn't have to, the ones that saw the challenge ahead of them and not only rose to it, but rose above it.  My sweet hubby wrapped his arms around me and my babies, he's paced the floor with me during crisis, while waiting for our grand baby to be born, shared the excitement of graduations and moments of sheer pride.  He's always understood my need to be a mom to my babies, understood when I cried because of hurt, and dried my tears and helped me laugh about it all...

Maybe that is why I am feeling so calm... I took the time to remember what I am grateful for... Maybe I am slowing down and remembering that I do have a great life and I need to enjoy it more...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Daddy's Hands...

I am your typical little girl when it comes to my Daddy.  I might get so mad at him, and I am easily hurt by his actions, but through it all... Ups, downs, thick and thin... I am a Daddy's Girl!

When I was a kid, he was my hero.  Some of my best memories center around him, and some of my worst do to.  I remember always trying to please him and live up to his expectations.  I also remember thinking that even if I did, he wouldn't notice.  He sure set some high goals.

Daddy's Hands by Holly Dunn  is my favorite song to describe my relationship with my Dad!

Dad has always been a "go my own way" kind of guy.  And for a lot of years he kind of stepped out of our lives.  He'd show up now and again, but basically he was living his own life. It hurt, but that's Dad.   A few years ago, he had a stroke, a bad one (not that there is a good one).  Everything changed then.  Unbelievably for the better.

I always knew Dad loved us.  There was never any doubt.  I also always knew that Dad had a tough time with saying the words.  He just stumbled hard with them.  I don't know if it was his upbringing, I struggle to remember if Gramma Armstrong said I love you much... I simply don't remember.  For Dad, "I love you's" were usually linked with traumatic or life changing events.  They weren't given out freely, they were closely guarded.  When Mom's heart finally started giving her fits when my baby girl was only 18 months old, that was an "I love you" moment, when I got married the first time - that warranted one too.  Although leaving the eighteen year old bull headed me in Germany did not.  That earned me a cold glare and turned back.  He didn't say the words, you just simply knew.

Dad thought up the fun trips, shared his love of history and education, and most of all pushed all of us girls.  He was the stern force, he'd wanted sons and been given daughters.  He solved it by raising strong, independent girls. 
That sort of bit him in the bottom, because as we grew, we didn't "need" him.  Oh, we needed and wanted him in our lives, but not like he needed us to need him.  With Dad it took longer to transition into friends.  He was gone so much due to his career, that to him we were still small children not young adults. Mom was our constant, she is the one that we eagerly went from children to adults with.  From parent to friendship.  With Dad it was a struggle.

There were still hiccups and hurts as we migrated to where we are today after his stroke.  Dad was too out of it after the stroke to understand the dynamics.  I prefer not to speak ill of the dead, suffice it to say, that despite all the hurts and pains inflicted in recent years the first ones to his side were his girls.  The two middle girls went first, taking turns.  It was as it needed to be.  The book ends, we didn't go, by the time it was our turn he was home again.  And none of us needed to be part of that.

As prayers kicked in, and Dad slowly healed, huge changes were occurring.  Little did we know the stroke that took his freedom would ultimately return our Daddy to us. His wife was not prepared to take care of his needs, and we found out in very harsh ways.  Nothing was worse than a phone call you can barely understand, filled with tears saying "I hungry", from more than a thousand miles away.  Eventually, our need to take care of him, led us to bring him closer to home.  He picked, there were two of us in Illinois and two in Arkansas.  It wasn't going to be easy, but he needed to be helped. He chose Arkansas.
My sisters had their hands full, it was hell on earth some days.  I felt so helpless, I wasn't dealing with the hurt they were, and all I could do was listen over the phone and say a lot of prayers. And call Dad.

You can always tell when he hasn't slept or his medication is wrong, his speech would be brutal to understand.  While he should have been on the path to recovery he was not, but during those long calls we were able to start bonding.  Finally becoming friends.  We talked politics, gardening, life, and dreams.  Slowly it evolved.  I was lucky.  My sisters had to deal with the struggles his "wife" caused, I simply refused to deal with her.  From hundreds of miles away, that was easy, I just hung up if I didn't feel like dealing.
As time moved on, Dad's life changed yet again.  And so did the rest of the family.  We got our Daddy back.  Family activities are full now, complete.  Daddy and I don't talk as often on the phone, he doesn't need it anymore... but every now and then... we still have lively conversations.  And when we visit face to face we get to laugh and talk over coffee while he smokes his cigarettes.

It's nice to have Daddy back in our world, our lives.  It's nice to see him smile and laugh, see him enjoy time with his Grand kids and Great Grand kids, those relationships are starting to grow.

Even through it all... I am still a Daddy's Girl!  My mom is one of my two best friends, my daughter is the other... but my Daddy... well he's simply my Daddy.

My own kids have their Daddy stories, they have all been blessed by wonderful loving Dad's and down the road they will have their memories to share.

Happy Father's Day to all those Daddy's out there... remember there is a little you looking up to you at all times!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Unplugging it!

The rain is pouring down outside.  It is the perfect end to a nearly perfect, relaxing day.  I realized early today, that I have been spending way to much time lately online.  All my spare minutes I have spent zoning out playing mindless games on the computer.  I know that is my way of dealing when I get overwhelmed and start doing without sleep.  This morning my internal alarm decided to wake me up at 3 am, another sign I need to back up and slow down.  When I start overloading I have odd coping mechanisms. 

At 3:45 am I gave up and got up.  All I could think was that it is Saturday and I am up before the sun.  I was so disappointed.  Popped open the laptop and zoned out to silly mindless games.  By 4:30 am I was so sleepy I decided to lay back down.  I'd been thinking about the way I was running from facing things, I needed to sleep.

I finally woke up at 9:30 .  I can't remember the last time I slept that late. It was amazing! Out of habit, I grabbed my laptop.  No..... that wasn't what I wanted.  Instead I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed downstairs.  Hubby was down there in the man cave zoning out himself.   After visiting for a bit, I decided to tackle some stuff in the sewing room. Hubby started quilting his quilt, his patience getting short.

The twins showed back up just before he completely lost his patience, talk about timing.  After a morning of pancakes and being silly, the youngest pulled up a movie.  Subconsciously, all of us stopped.  Dishes can wait, computers put away, it became a veg day. 

Gator has spent the entire day laying on his girl.  She would be the only one I am at risk of ever losing him to.  He's loved her since he first met her. We've alternated spots, played musical chairs.  I have been working on needlework, glancing periodically at the television.  Movie day or not I cannot sit through that. 

So far it's been an eclectic mix, we started with Shutterfly (slightly twisted), Crooked Man (Hubby picked), next up was The Sound of Music (I have never seen it - don't judge - and hubby has been trying to force me for several years...) and they are now watching Fast Five.  I hit my max with The Sound of Music (pretty darn good)... and my hands were starting to remind me I am not a youngster any longer. 

While Dad and youngest continued their movie marathon, I tackled Hubby's quilt.  I want my frame back and he is simply not comfortable with my machine. The first row of blocks is done... I am thrilled with how it looks, hopefully he is too.

It was nice to unplug.  I didn't give the NSA anything to do today.  I simply enjoyed stopping. I didn't tackle my to do list, I simply didn't, I just stopped.  As I listen to the rain and get ready to crawl into bed, I am cherishing this gift.

How did you savor this day?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Wall... traveling, healing, bonding...

Tonight I was humbled and honored to be surrounded by hero's.  Sitting outside in the sun, surrounded by asphalt, staring at the sad beauty of it all.  The heat stopped mattering as I watched the peace and reverence surrounding me. I ceased to care about the petty things that had bothered me just a bit before. 

The twins invited us to come to their school as the Traveling Wall was going to be there.  The band was going to play and there would be a presentation.  I have been apprehensive, hubby is a Vietnam Vet, the last time we went to see it, he was crushed. I wasn't ready for that again.

Tonight, was different.  Tonight was a celebration and remembrance of those that served and those that didn't ever get to come home. Listening to the Mayor of Sunset Hills, humbly admit that he had not served, I didn't understand his acronyms... hard to admit since I was born and raised a military brat... but basically they wouldn't take him. His words tonight standing in front of the replica Wall, were short and jarring.  Jarring because he admitted to all assembled that tonight he realized that because he had been spared someone else had been sent in his place.  That he prayed it was someone in the audience that had returned, not one of the names on the wall behind him.  He was choked up and in tears as he turned around and sat down.  His humble thank you, spoke louder and longer than any speech he could have given.

I am a proud member of a rich military family history.  In my lifetime alone my family by blood or marriage has served in every branch of the military.  Have put themselves in harms way to give us the freedom and privilege that we cherish.  I have several uncles that went to Vietnam, and my dear sweet hubby volunteered to go when he was just a boy really.  He was determined to join the military, because no one was gonna tell him what to do (meaning his Mom), yes he found out quickly how delusional he was!!

He was also following in his older brother's footstep.  Junior had proudly served in World War II, had earned five major battle medals and had been a part of the D-Day invasion at Normandy.  Big shoes to try and step in.  I am guessing there might have been a bit of hero worship involved for my headstrong hubby.

Hubby was in the 82nd Airborne, he found it fun (?) or necessary to jump out of perfectly good airplanes.  Ironically enough the Army decided it was a better fit for him to serve on the ground and with the Navy.  He was assigned to Chu Lai for the duration.  From the stories he's told me he unloaded, loaded and supported a lot of troops going into far more dangerous areas than he was in.  For that he was blessed.

On October 23, 1971, when I was a mere six years old, he was far across the globe, willingly fighting an unpopular war and being the typical GI counting time to coming home.  That day, he lost a friend.  Anthony Quint.  They were standing so close to each other.  One minute there, next minute gone. 

None of us knows why God chooses who to call home and who he leaves behind, we aren't meant to.  His reasons are his and his alone.  That day he chose to call Anthony Quint, young father of a son he never saw, home.  I know from many conversations that it tortures him, why he was left when that young father and friend was called home.  He was single, he had no children yet, no young wife waiting at home.  Yet he was left.  I like to think that God knew that on the other side of the world there was a six year old that would one day grow up to need him, that he had much more he needed to do in this world.  I know that isn't a rational or true thought, but I am glad that God didn't think he was ready to come home.

Tonight we heard the stories of the over 58,000 men and women that unselfishly answered when their country called out to them.  Do you know the youngest on the wall was just fifteen, what a passion he must have had to have lied to answer the call from his country in need.  The majority of those names on that long black wall were only eighteen when they died. 

As we used a special pencil to make a rubbing of his friends name, with tears falling, he had another chance to say good bye.  I had another chance to be grateful that he was standing there beside me. I am so proud to be a member of those families that have unselfishly risked all for us, the American people.
The color guard was comprised of Marine Vietnam Veterans, the man who sang the National Anthem an Air Force Vietnam veteran - I have never heard our National Anthem sung so beautifully.  His voice breaking as he sang those precious words, just his sweet voice no music. The chaplain that led everyone in prayer was a Korean War veteran his voice rang loud and clear as he prayed for those gone before and those still waiting their turn to go home.
At some point after the eagles had flown in and the speakers had begun the wind picked up.  Taking that beautiful POW/MIA flag with it.  I was so proud of Hubby as he rushed up to keep it from hitting the ground.  Hurried to stand it back up and keep it from falling.  Those things are precious to him, he would never let that happen.  Never let them down.

Was it an unpopular war?  Or course it was, did the men and women that fought it deserve to be treated the way they were...absolutely not!! Is The Wall and its traveling replica's helping the healing.  I think so. 

After the ceremony tonight, hubby started shaking hands and thanking all the veterans for their service.  Something he does every chance he gets.  I usually stand there feeling awkward, I can't understand that special brotherhood that only veterans of war share.  The gentleman who's hand he was shaking quivered slightly. As he casually told Hubby that he was a bit older than him. As they thanked each other for serving their country the World War II vet and the Vietnam vet both with tear filled eyes.  I felt like an intruder, as I quietly spoke to his wife.  As he turned to leave I shook his hand and thanked him for his service, as his eyes glassed over and tears ran down his cheek, he thanked me and told me to take care of my Hubby, that he was special, he was a veteran.

He's right, all veteran's are special. I think mine is the most special, but I am sure that is my bias.  We are in the midst of another unpopular war.  Depending on who's in government depends on how unpopular it is.  I now have friends of my 22 year old son that Veterans of a Foreign War. I am not sure these unpleasant things will ever end.  Just as I am very sure that there will always be hero's who will fight the cause in all of our names!  I am humbled, to be in their presence.  Thank you seems so insignificant... but it is all I have to offer.  Thank you for your service....

Fly your flag high and proud in their honor tomorrow - it's Flag Day after all!


The sun is just breaking over the beautiful Smoky Mountains.  Watching it set last night was breathtaking! Tomorrow I will get up and ...