Thursday, August 31, 2006


Today would have been my father-in-law’s ninety-fourth birthday. Bill was a good man. He adored his wife. His three sons were each a joy to him. His greatest pleasure was being with his family. Today I looked for a picture of Bill. It was hard to find one of just Bill. He was always pictured with his beloved Kay or with the whole family. Thinking about that, I decided that was right. Bill would have been incomplete without Kay. There was a romantic movie I once saw where the hero says to the heroine, ”You complete me.” Bill and Kay were the perfect example of completing one another. I owe Bill much. He taught my husband how to be a good man, a good husband, and a good father. Thank you Bill. Happy Birthday.

The picture is of Bill and his three sons with Kay. The cute boy in the glasses grew up to be my husband.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Yesterday we received a sample ballot for the primary election to held here in two weeks. I think it is a privilege and an honor to be able to vote, but it is also hard. How do you decide whom to vote for? It is not too hard to make a decision for the better-known posts. I can figure out my candidate choices for governor and senator. They are in the news often and I can see what they say and what they do. But how do I make a decision about which candidate I like for clerk of the circuit court or judge of the orphans court. I don’t know what the job is, and I have never heard of any of names on the ballot. The positions that concern me the most are the people to be elected to serve on the local school board. These people will run the school system and impact the education of my grandchildren and all the children of this county. Our school system has had some serious troubles and flaws in the past and these people will have a big job ahead of them. There are twenty-four candidates running for five positions on the board. I have never heard of any of these people. I have read the little blurbs about them in the paper, but really that has not been very helpful.

How do you make an informed and wise choice for an important job when you have so little information with which to which to make that decision?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


What do a World War II flying ace, a tenor, a nursery school teacher, a graphic designer, a homebuilder, and a Foreign Service officer have in common? All of them had obituaries in this morning’s paper. It seems very inadequate to have an entire life reduced to just two or three words.

I wonder what words will define my life. Nurse? Homemaker? Sunday school teacher? Blogger? All of those are accurate, but they seem so incomplete. It doesn’t mention my laugh, which can be heard above everyone else’s in a noisy room. It ignores my love for listening to people and the stories they tell. My faith, which is the thing that sustains me, is ignored. The joy my family and friends bring me is not mentioned.

What few words do you hope will define your life?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Strange Man

Sometimes I wonder if my husband and I have anything in common. There are all the children and grandchildren and forty-five years of being married, but other than that we are not much alike.

Yesterday we were running errands together. He was driving from the post office to the bank when he turned on a street that was not the usual route. I asked him why he turned on that particular street, and he replied, ”There is a 375 car parked on this street. I need to see it.” “OK,” I replied. “What is a 375 car and why do you need to see it?” So he explained that while he is driving he likes to find all the eighth numbers on license plates. I still did not understand. He continued to explain that he likes to find the numbers that represents eighths in decimals, like .125, .250, .375, .500, etc. Since he has been entertaining himself for a while with this license plate number game, he now knows where cars are parked in town with all the numbers he needs. Its not fair to go out of the way to see the right number, but you can go a different way if it gets you there in the same amount of time. He is easily entertained. I enjoy watching flowers and people and beautiful skies. It never occurred to me to look for eighth license plate numbers.

He is a little strange. But I think I will keep him.

Friday, August 25, 2006


The Smithsonian Museum of American History will be closing the end of this month for a two-year renovation. Today I decided I needed to go take a last look at this collection of Americana. What a treasure of stuff this place is! I saw the flag that flew on the pentagon after 9/11 and the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner. I took a docent led tour, which was great fun. The guide had so many interesting tidbits of history. She made us feel like we were there for some of the great events of our country. We saw Julia Child’s kitchen. Did you know she was over six feet tall and had her kitchen customized to accommodate her height? I saw so many things that had great stories behind them. There was George Washington’s uniform and the table and chairs used at Appomattox when Lee surrendered to Grant. There were the ruby red slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and some of the original Muppets. There was a great collection of things to do with American music. I listened to the Grand Ol Opery and looked at memorabilia from Woodstock and the Grateful Dead. There was a poignant moment in the section about the Vietnam War. A small alcove was dedicated to prisoners of war from that terrible conflict. As I turned into the alcove I saw an older man sobbing. He was standing in front of a small display about the Hanoi Hilton and crying. I felt like I intruding on his grief and left wondering what memories he must be reliving.

It was a wonderful experience. I am going to go more often and enjoy some of the treasures that Washington DC has for us all to enjoy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Sanctuary is defined as a sacred place or a place of shelter and refuge.

The room in our church building where we have worship services is called the sanctuary. It is a beautiful and peaceful room. I can see woods outside the big windows and watch the light play among the leaves. The change of the seasons is displayed through those windows. The ceiling is high giving the room a spacious feel. I like to be in the sanctuary when it is quiet and empty. I often sense the Devine at those moments. I like the sanctuary when it is full of people who have come together in community to worship God. I love it when the church says the Lord’s Prayer together in one voice. I think God likes to hear his people pray. I think God smiles when we pray. I love the smiles and hugs of people who care about me. I feel safe in this room. It is a sanctuary.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mares Tails

Yesterday during my art class at the senior center one of my fellow students came running in all excited. “Everybody come outside. You have to see the mares’ tails. They are just amazing!” I had no idea what she was talking about, but her excitement made me go outside and look. Mares’ tails are high, thin wispy clouds that fan across the sky and are said to resemble the tails of horses, hence, mares’ tails. The proper name for them is cirrus clouds. The sky was beautiful with all those feathery clouds stretching long fingers across the clear blue sky. My classmates and I stood there pointing out the different cloud formations and discussing how we could paint them. As we stood there the crowd around us began to grow. Others had seen us hurry outside and gaze upwards. More people gathered and stared upward with us. “What are you looking at? What’s up there?” They all seemed a bit disappointed that we were just looking at the beautiful sky. I guess they expected our enthusiasm was from something a bit more exciting. I wonder what they expected.

Would you have come outside and looked up to see what had so attracted a group of senior citizens?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Amazon Women

I have just finished reading a book about Theodore Roosevelt called, “The River of Doubt.” It was a fascinating story about a journey Roosevelt made after his presidency. He explored an uncharted thousand mile long river in Brazil that emptied into the Amazon. In 1914 this was an extremely dangerous journey that nearly cost him his life. As part of the background for understanding the Amazon the author told an interesting story about Amazon women.

A Spanish explorer in 1542 was the first European to penetrate the dense, deadly jungle of the Amazon. He returned with an astonishing tale of a tribe of vicious women warriors who went about naked with bows and arrows in their hands .One of these women could do as much fighting as ten Indian men. The explorer named these women the Amazons, after the famed women warriors of Greek mythology, who were said to have removed their right breast so they could more effectively shoot a bow and arrow. It is from the Greek word “a- mazos”, meaning no breasts, that the word “Amazon” is derived.


I had never heard of these Greek women warriors before. I wonder if a mastectomy really could improve your archery skill?

Saturday, August 19, 2006


“Look at my blue cow!”” I made a purple turtle.” “Look at mine.”

I heard these and many similar exclamations of joy today at the “Back to School Bash” at our city’s gym. I was there helping my first born in a booth she had at the Bash to entertain the kids and advertise her art education business. We had paint and markers and lots of creative young minds crowding our booth all day. While I helped the young artists my daughter explained her art education program to their parents. She runs the local Abrakadoodle franchise, which specializes in teaching kids various kinds of art. The kids were having a great time. One of the nice things about art is that there is no wrong way to do art. The kids have such a good time. I think my daughter loves her job as much as the kids love to create. She loves the kids. She loves the joy she sees in their faces.

Do you have a job that you love? What makes a job fun?

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I’ve had the blahs the last couple of days. I just don’t feel like doing anything, and the things I do are just going through the motions. I have more than my fair share of blessings and nothing is particularly wrong. I just feel kind of lethargic. Maybe it’s a let down from living in a busy beach house full of eleven different personalities and coming home to my peaceful, quiet house. Whatever. It will go away and I’ll feel more like me in a day or two.

What do you do to help get you through the blah days?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Easy Silence

At the beach last week I listened to The Dixie Chicks a lot. I really enjoyed several of their songs, but this one is my favorite. It reminds me of my sweet husband who provides a peaceful, quite place for me. It is called “Easy Silence.”

When the calls and conversations
Accidents and accusations
Messages and misperceptions
Paralyze my mind

Busses, cars, and airplanes leaving
Burning fumes of gasoline
And everyone is running
And I come to find a refuge in the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Monkeys on the barricades
Are warning us to back away
They form commissions trying to find
The next one they can crucify

And anger plays on every station
Answers only make more questions
I need something to believe in
Breathe in sanctuary in the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Children lose their youth too soon
Watching war made us immune
And I've got all the world to lose
But I just want to hold on to the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me

The easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Monday, August 14, 2006

Beach Food

With a houseful of children we found eating at home much more pleasant than trying to eat in one of the many restaurants in Rehoboth. Still we each needed to eat our favorite beach food while we were there. Every evening we walked to the boardwalk to find our favorite delicacy. My daughter would have found the week incomplete without a wonderfully sinful candied apple, dipped in caramel and rolled in chocolate or coconut or nuts or all three. I went to the Candy Kitchen to purchase a chocolate covered strawberry, which I did not offer to share. Korh’s Brothers frozen custard, the vanilla, orange twist, was a favorite for several. Matt, my grandson’s buddy who joined us for the week, wanted Po-ta-toes every day, so we had to get a bucket of Thrashers fries soaked in vinegar. Of course the trip would not have been right without Grottos pizza for all the kids at least twice. We ate all the wrong foods and enjoyed every bite.

What is your favorite beach food?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Beach Memories

After a week in a beach house full of family and friends, it is good to home again in my quiet and peaceful house where I think about all the wonderful memories we made together.

One evening after supper we all went down to the beach to fly my daughter’s two-string kite, which is a bit more challenging than a regular kite. It was great fun to watch everyone take a turn learning to get the kite aloft. While waiting to fly the kite the kids turned cartwheels and played football in the sand or ran laughing into the water. As I watched something appeared out on the water. I couldn’t figure out what it was. A red, neon looking bubble appeared on the horizon which grew bigger and brighter. It looked otherworldly. Suddenly I realized that it was the moon rising up over the horizon. I have never seen a more spectacular moonrise. It was an amazing sight. For this old gramma it was a perfect evening at the beach, happy grandchildren frolicking together while God provided a backdrop of sheer beauty.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Found Money

Yesterday I found $150, all of it in quarters. Wow! This is so cool because tomorrow I am leaving for a week in Rehoboth Beach with an assortment of children, grandchildren and friends. The quarters are the kids designated arcade money. It won’t last long.

My daughter has been renting a beach house for a week each summer since her ex left. It has become a great family tradition. The number of people in the house varies each day as an assortment of friends come and go. But the house is filled always with fun, laughter, and some of the people we love most in this world.

One of my favorite memories last year was walking home from the arcade with my 10-year-old grandson. It was the last night of our vacation. He had been saving coupons from the arcade all week. He had a gazillion of them, which he had just cashed in. He had redeemed them for a remote controlled whoopee cushion, gifts for some friends, and a huge disco ball He needed help carrying all his loot. He was so happy. As we walked down the boardwalk, he said to me, ”Gramma, every boy needs to excel at something. I excel at video games. And look, it’s finally paid off!”

I look forward to another week of new adventures and memories.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


We have been working with colored pencils in my art class. I really enjoy this medium. To achieve rich, intense colors with pencil, you must put layer upon layer, upon layer. A few layers of color will give only a faded and pale shade. Vibrant, brilliant color takes time as you put layer, upon layer, upon layer.

One of the techniques we have practiced is to undercoat the entire picture with one color. Then as you build the picture on top, the undercoat color influences all the other colors and thus influences the finished picture.

In one picture I first covered the entire page with blue. The finished picture was a cool, cloudy English countryside. The blue, though unseen, had kept a cool feeling throughout the drawing. Another picture was of a sunny beach in Aruba. I had undercoated the paper with a warm yellow that helped give the drawing a warm sunny feel.

Isn’t this a lot like life. It takes time to achieve a rich, vibrant life as we build layer, upon layer of experiences. Underneath all the layers is one thing that influences everything else.

What is the one thing that undercoats your life and influences all the experiences that are layered upon the foundation?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Grocery Shopping

I received a call this morning from the hospice volunteer office. One of their patients was out of groceries. Could I help? I said sure and called the patient to make arrangements. I expected to get a list and run to the store, but it wasn’t quite that simple. The 83-year-old patient is Italian and speaks very little English. Her husband is legally blind but speaks good English. They wanted to go to the store and do their own shopping. I can understand that. I would definitely not have picked the right food. So we loaded her wheelchair into the car and got everyone settled. First we had to go to the bank and cash their check, then on to the store. I pushed the wheelchair and the husband pushed the grocery cart. This couple expresses their love by fussing and arguing loudly with one another. It got to be pretty funny as we tried to find just what she wanted. “No, not that one. Don’t you know what I want?” Then they would fuss in Italian while I tried to figure out what kind of fish she wanted. After squeezing all the plums and peaches and examining all the mushrooms we made our purchase and loaded people and groceries back into the car.

Now we just needed to stop by the pharmacy for his heart medicine. He said he would not need any money for his prescription because the insurance would pay for it. He went into the pharmacy while we waited in the car. In a few minutes he was back, and he was fuming. “What is wrong with this country? What has President Bush done for seniors? Nothing! He has done nothing for me and my wife!” It seems his heart medicine was going to cost $150, and he did not have $150. So we went home. I told him to call the social worker at hospice. People there are good at figuring out how to work with insurance and they could help him. I left my phone number and told them to call whenever they needed a ride to the store.

Growing old is not always easy.