Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas


The highlight of our holiday arrived during our Christmas Eve service at church.

We were all feeling a hole in our celebration because our eldest grandchild could not get off work. Christmas is a busy day at Disney World and she was in Orlando working. We were trying to accept that she was grown and this was a normal part of growing up, but we were all a bit sad. The worship service had just begun. My son-in-law was the liturgist for the evening and was preparing to read the scripture when I noticed my tall, handsome grandson walk into church. He had a girl with him. I wondered who this girl was when I recognized that it was my sweet granddaughter smiling at her brother's side. I left my place in the bell choir to hug this beautiful girl who had surprised us all and was not working at Disney World after all. When I looked up at her dad he was grinning and crying. This girl was the best present this family could receive.

It was wonderful to have my children and grandchildren together for Christmas. We enjoyed presents, food , conversation, games and laughter. In the afternoon we all enjoyed a nap and then settled in for more fun, laughter and conversation.




Tomorrow we drive to West Virginia for two days to visit with grandchild number eight. We have not seen her for many months and it will be good to see how much she has grown.

We do feel blessed with the love of our wonderful family.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

God bless us, everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Party

This weekend I am hosting my first annual Christmas blog party. You are all invited. It's an open house potluck so do come any time. I'll be providing some delicious home made eggnog, both with and without the brown liquid flavoring, and of course my world famous gumdrop cake. You can bring whatever you think we need to make it a real party.

The tree is decorated and I have all your presents wrapped and waiting by the prettiest tree we ever did have. I bought them all at the alternate gift bazaar I recently attended.

For my kids, grandkids and my Fowler cousins I purchased a gift of sight by paying for cataract surgery and eye care for someone who would otherwise be blind. This gift is in honor of Granddad Fowler and Gramma Byrtle, who lived their last years in blindness.

I next purchased training for a village health care worker and midwife in a village where there is no health care. I am giving this to my nurse friends, Cazzie, Julie, and Rosemary. I just knew you all would like it.

Sling, I got you something special. I paid for kitchen and bathroom cabinets to be used in a Habitat for Humanity home. I doubt they will be as beautiful as the ones you can build, but they will be appreciated by a family moving into their own home.
For my quilter friend ,Anne, I bought two warm blankets to keep a homeless person warm. They are not the beautiful works of art you create but they are warm.

I next bought some school supply kits to help needy children. I picked these for Lorraine and Jeannie and Tracy who work so hard to see that their kids have a good education.

Greeny, I knew this was just perfect for you. I picked garden tools and seeds to help people in the third world grow a garden so they can have good food to eat and to sell.

Middle Child, I had to think a bit before I picked your gift. Then I remembered you once said rain water was your favorite drink. For you I bought the gift of fresh, clean, safe water. You are helping people in Guatemala enjoy cool, clear water. Yolinna, thank for helping me pick out this gift.

John, I bought you a flock of chickens. I figured in your busy, full household you wouldn't mind having a bunch of chickens running around and laying eggs. Or maybe you can throw them in the back of the truck and tell a wonderful story about them. I know they will be appreciated.

I am giving Craig and Diane the gift of nutrition education and good food for the hungry to say thank you for all their work in bringing food to our tables.

Just Me, I am giving you a donation to the interfaith food pantry. It just seemed like the right gift from this Christian lady to the rabbi's wife.

Now that the gifts have been opened, enjoy another round of eggnog and enjoy the company of friends here at our blog party.

Merry Christmas. God bless us everyone.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Concert


One of my favorite things is being part of the senior chorale. Almost a hundred of us old folks get together every Thursday and practice singing. I had never been a part of a singing group until I retired and I find I really love it. My fellow chorale member are a lively bunch of people who love life. We have a great time together. Our young director is quite demanding and works us hard. I think we sound pretty good when we finally get ready to perform. Our holiday program this year was all hallelujah music. All the songs were based on that wonderful word, hallelujah. It was great fun to perform before an audience of over 500 people.


video

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gumdrop Cake

I have just put the gumdrop cake in the oven. Now Christmas can come.
This cake was made by my mother-in-law every Christmas and I have made it now for the past forty-seven Christmases. My daughter has been making one for the past twenty-four Christmases. It takes a little bit of time because you have to cut up two pounds of gumdrops into small pieces. It is hard because the pieces always stick together and the knife gets all sticky. The effort is worth it and the cake is part of what makes Christmas really Christmas. It looks like a fruit cake but tastes much better.

What food makes you know that Christmas is almost here?

Gumdrop Cake
By Gramma Kay

1 lb. seedless raisins
2 lbs. Gumdrops – No black ones (Buy lbs. ‘cuz we always snitch)
4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1-cup margarine
1 cup chopped nuts
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cups applesauce
1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 Tbs. hot water

Cut up gumdrops into sifted flour.
Add nuts and raisins. (If you don’t mind picking them out later)
Add all other ingredients

Bake in big wax paper lined pan for 2 hours on low oven (250 – 275 degrees)

A family tradition every Christmas !

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cell Phone

I have lost my cell phone. I really don't use it a lot, but I do feel incomplete without it. What if I need to call someone? What if someone needs me? If I can't find it I will have to recreate my whole phone book. That will be hard. I do hope I find it soon.

Could you get along without your cell phone?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Holiday Eating Tips

I received this in a recent email. It contains important advice for this time of year.

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit.  In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately.  Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can.  And quickly.  It's rare.  You cannot find it any other time of year but now.  So drink up!  Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip?  It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something.  It's a treat.  Enjoy it.  Have one for me.  Have two.  It's later than you think.  It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it.  That's the whole point of gravy.  Gravy does not stand alone.  Pour it on.  Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes.  Fill it with gravy.  Eat the volcano.  Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk.  If it's skim, pass.  Why bother?  It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating.  The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free.  Lots of it.  Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's.  You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do.  This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge.  Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention.  They're like a beautiful pair of shoes.  If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies.  Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat.  Have a slice of each.  Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin.  Always have three.  When else do you get to have more than one dessert?  Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake?  Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost.  I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Astronomy



My astronomer took this picture as he left work one evening this week. He loves it when the night sky does something spectacular. Seeing the moon between Venus and Jupiter fits his idea of spectacular. He called to make sure I went outside to see this unusual sighting. It is unusual to see such bright stars in the evening sky. I was glad he made me look skyward.

According to Bob Ryan, our local TV weatherman, if you took one trillion dollar bills and stacked them end to end, they would reach from the U.S. treasury building to the planet Venus. Venus is far away. One trillion is a very big number.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Kennedy Center



Last night we completed a lovely holiday week-end with a trip to the Kennedy Center. I always enjoy attending performances there. It is such a glamorous place and it touches me with a sense of history. Last night we sat in the beautiful concert hall and listened to some outstanding music, a performance by the honors musicians in our local county schools. The band was excellent, as was the orchestra. After the intermission the elementary school honors chorus sang. In the center of the front row was my beautiful young granddaughter. The concert hall was filled with their sweet, young voices and I began to cry. My grandbaby was singing on stage in the Kennedy Center. It was a lovely moment that just overwhelmed me.

She beamed from the stage and waved to her family. Many of the big family who love her were there. Besides her grandparents, her mom and dad, her sister and brother, her dad's girlfriend, her mom's boyfriend, and her mom's boyfriend's mother came to share her moment of glory. She is loved by all of us. We are a modern American family.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

25 Blessings

I've been challenged to name twenty-five things for which I am grateful. Here's my list in no particular order.

1.The aroma of coffee first thing in the morning.
2.Baking cookies with my granddaughter.
3.The telephone. I would miss so much without my phone.
4.My family. We come from a long line of love.
5.My happy bell place. I love my bell practice sessions. Laughter and music make a good combination.
6.Old pictures that bring back a lifetime full of memories.
7.My country. I love that this nation is able to change it's leaders peacefully with the voice of the people being heard.
8.The Bible. I love the lessons I learn every time I study this book.
9.Water aerobics. It is wonderful to find an exercise that I enjoy and does not make my knees hurt.
10. Chocolate
11. Blogging. I love the community of friends that I have found in Blogland.
12. My washer and dryer. Never let me forget that laundry means I have clothes to wear.
13. Sleeping with the man I have loved for more than forty-seven years.
14. I love the gift of time that comes with being retired. I have time to play.
15. My hearing. I love that I can listen to music and the giggles of my grandchildren.
16. Good books that make me think and carry me to faraway places.
17. God's amazing grace.
18. Long conversations with good friends.
19. A big world full of interesting, beautiful paces yet to be explored.
20. Lilacs, and roses, daffodils, gardenias, sweet peas, petunias ,tulips and all the flowers that make the world so pretty.
21. Eagles soaring high in the sky.
22. Children's drama and music productions, and the people who work so hard to make them possible.
23. Modern medicine and good medical facilities nearby
24. Family reunions.
25.Faith that gives me hope for tomorrow.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pierce Butler


This picture was taken in 1939, the year Pierce Butler died. The baby in the photo is my beloved husband. He is being held by his Uncle Pierce. It was not until the family gathered at my mother-in-law's funeral that I learned the story of why Pierce received his name.

During World War I my husband's grandparents lived in a small town in Minnesota. They, like most of the country, were caught in a patriotic fervor caused by the Great War. When it was learned that the local banker was a German sympathizer many of the townsmen, including Grampa Charles, became very upset. They were indignant that a prominent citizen sympathized with the enemy and decided to teach him a lesson. One night a vigilante group kidnapped the hated German sympathized and took him outside of town where they tarred and feathered the poor man. Grampa Charles ended up in jail for his participation in the incident. A young lawyer in town volunteered to represent Charles. The lawyer was Pierce Butler. Grampa promised the lawyer that if he could get him out of jail then he would name his next son after the lawyer. Grampa was released from jail without being convicted of any crime. A year later Grampa became the father of child number eight. As promised the boy was named Pierce Butler.

A few years later the lawyer was appointed to the Supreme Court by Warren Harding. Pierce Butler served on the court for sixteen years. He was known for his conservative views and was part of a group referred to as the Four Horsemen for their opposition to most of FDR's New Deal policies.

Got any good stories in your family history?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

16


Tonight our family gathered to celebrate DQ's sixteenth birthday. We had steak, baked potatoes and Caesar salad at the birthday boy's request. Of course we had chocolate birthday cake. I love that my family lives close enough that we can frequently celebrate together.

DQ was adopted into our family when he was three years old. We love this boy and rejoice that he is ours.

How did you celebrate turning sixteen?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Old Pictures


I have been going through old pictures for the past week. It is a bit overwhelming to wade through this treasure of memories. They are stored in boxes, drawers, and old albums. There are at least a million of them, maybe a billion. Some are of people and places long forgotten. Some are priceless treasures with powerful memories. What do you with all of your old pictures? What shall I do with mine? There are just so many of them.

This pictures was made in 1992. It was taken on my mom's last visit here, the visit where she first met her great grandchildren, Ashley, John and Samantha. This one is obviously a treasure that should be passed on to the next generation of my family.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Cards


For more than sixty years my mother-in-law sent out her Christmas greetings on postcards. She wrote a little note that reflected what was going on in her family and in the world. Her brother the printer made them for her at no cost. Postcards were only a penny each when they began sending these notes in 1941. Reading through them now I see her life unfold. She writes of her boys and how they grew. She writes of the world and how it was. She talks about the joy of grandchildren and the travels she and Bill enjoyed in retirement. At the end she talked about the loneliness of widowhood and her hope for the future. We always looked forward to her Christmas card, eager to see what she had to say each year.

I looked through these cards last week and was stuck by how little the world has changed. Her card from 1952 could have been written this year. She talks about the big changes coming to Washington, about the economy, about climate change, about her hope that the war would soon end, and how she hopes that all the changes will be good for America.

As we go through today's big political and economic changes, I find comfort in knowing that it was all going on in 1952 and we are all still here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lucerne Valley


While going through a box of old pictures this week I found this one that I had never seen before. This is a picture of my husband as a boy with his brother and cousins near his Aunt Ruth's cabin in the desert near Lucerne Valley in California. You just have to love this picture of boys gathered around the skeletal remains of some animal they had found while playing near the cabin.

The cabin was a favorite vacation spot for my husband's family. It was a twenty by forty foot concrete block building with a shady porch and an outhouse that my husband remembers building. There was no electricity, no running water and no neighbors for miles. He and his cousins spent hours roaming the desert. He learned to shoot a rifle there, although the rabbits he tried to hit were relatively safe. He learned to shoot a bow and arrow and then to hunt for arrows all over the desert. At night everyone dragged old mattresses out from the cabin and slept under the stars. It was dark and clear. You could see shooting stars falling out of the sky.
It is a place full of wonderful memory.

Where did you play when you were a child?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Kay


Today is my mother-in-law's ninety-eighth birthday. Kay's life was dedicated to her family. She loved her husband and three sons enormously. Her grandchildren were the light of her life. She delighted in them. When they were little she taught them all the songs she had sung to her boys when they were little. She was a wonderful grandmother.

Shortly before my father-in-law died Bill helped her to tape-record all the nursery songs she had sung with the little ones. They are both gone now. We miss them. This recording is a priceless treasure. Here is the voice of eighty year old Gramma Kay singing one of her favorites,Red Wing.

Happy birthday, Gramma Kay.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Church

Sunday is my favorite day of the week because it is church day. I love going to church for all sorts of reasons. I'll talk about yesterday to see if I can explain.
I slipped into a pew next to my daughter and looked around the room and smiled. People I love are everywhere I look. I feel a sense of community and belonging. In the four years since we came here this group of believers has become family. I feel like I am part of a lovely family reunion where all the generations come together to celebrate that we are family. It is a warm, safe feeling. Then the music began and we sang,

Shout to the Lord, all the earth,
Let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to the King;
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name.
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands,
Forever I'll love You, forever I'll stand,
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

The music and words began to fill me and seemed to thin out the space between God and me. God felt near. We prayed together. I love to hear the voices of this family when we pray. I think God smiles at our worship.
Yesterday two children were baptized. It was awesome to see this young family dedicate themselves to teaching their children to learning about a loving God and then to hear the congregation promise to help to show these little ones that God is love. It was a moment of sweetness.

After worship service we all met again in the fellowship room. Coffee is an important part of becoming a family. We talk and share life with one another. Yesterday we had something extra, The Christmas Gift Market. This was a chance to see some of the different mission activities people in the church support. Instead of buying trinkets to give as Christmas gifts we are honoring others with a gift to a worthwhile charity. There were all sorts of opportunities to help others in need. I went shopping for all of you, my blog friends. I will wrap up something for each of you to put under our blogland Christmas tree.

I am a Christian. Church helps me to worship the Almighty. I feel blessed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Emotion

This has been an emotional week for our country. It is hard to not be touched by the euphoria and excitement seen over and over again on the faces of people from around the world. It is touching to see the tears of people who have seen an impossible dream come true. There have been spontaneous celebrations everywhere. It is an amazing thing to watch. So much emotion and joy is a wondrous sight

Today I sang in a Veteran's Day program at the local senior citizens center. It was a day meant to honor those men and women who have served our country in the military. At one point in the program we sang an armed forces medley. As we sang the veterans in the room stood to be honored. These men are now elderly. They need canes and walkers to help them move. They are mostly veterans of World War II, men who are proud of their service. Many were overcome with emotion as we honored them and thanked them. One little old man stood with difficulty as we sang the Marine Corps Hymn. He stood as tall and as straight as his frail body would allow and he cried. I missed a couple of notes as I watched this man. This man and the others in the room did what needed to be done to protect and to serve this nation. It is because of what these men have done that we are able to vote. Our celebrations of post-election victory come because brave men and women like these have been willing to serve their country. I wanted to cry with thanksgiving as I watched them.

May we always be thankful for those who have been willing to serve our country.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Prayer

Almighty God,

Today I am praying for this nation of mine, this country that is my home. I am thankful for this country and all the good things that come to me because I am an American. I love this country. Today we are ending a long, difficult presidential election. I am thankful that this campaign has been fought with words and ideas instead of with war and guns. The words, though, have been painful. This long period off emotional campaigning has left us tired and fearful. I pray that when tomorrow is over we can begin to heal. I pray that we can grant one another grace and forgiveness. I will be disappointed if my candidate does not win, but I promise to pray for whoever wins tomorrow. I will pray that our next president has the wisdom, the courage, and the good health to lead this country to a better place.

God, heal our land. Bless us with grace peace.

Saturday, November 01, 2008



My eleven year old granddaughter celebrated her October birthday last night with a Halloween party. It was great fun. Her friends gathered in their costumes in time for pizza and a few games before heading down into the very scary basement. Her thirteen year old brother and his friends had created a haunted house there complete with the body parts of an old witch. I'm not sure how scary it was, but there were lots of screams and excited kids running in circles. After being thoroughly frightened the kids settled down to watch Michael Jackson in his Thriller. Most of these eleven year olds had never seen it. Then it was time to get flashlights and head out for an evening of trick or treating which was well chaperoned by my devilish daughter and her beau, George W.

I hope you all had a delightfully devilish Halloween

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thriller

I go to a water aerobics class several times every week. We usually do a lot of walking, jogging and jumping jacks in the pool. It is a fun class full of energetic senior citizens. Our instructor decided that today we would celebrate Halloween by dancing in the water. The dance we tried to do was Thriller. Picture a group of about twenty gray haired white ladies, most of them in their seventies and eighties, trying to do the zombie walk in the pool. The life guard nearly split his sides laughing. We got so tickled with ourselves that we had tears of laughter running into the pool. This was one of those moments when being old was pretty fun.
I can assure you that we looked nothing like this.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pictures of Life

We have one of those digital picture frames sitting next to my computer. I look at it a lot. It contains random pictures of my family and some our many adventures. There is picture of my granddaughter being inducted into the Honor Society followed by a picture of my daddy when he was young and handsome. There is a picture of me at a Halloween party in a bright orange dress and then a picture of my infant son. There are several pictures from our cruise to Alaska and one of us by Niagara Falls. A photo of us with all our kids and grandkids gathered around a Christmas tree comes up after an image my young mother in the funny hat she often wore to church. I have a picture here of my great-grandparents who died before I was born and then one of my grandsons playing at the beach. It is a very random collection of memories. I like that I never quite know what will come up next. It is like my memories of life. It is not a nice, neat series, but just a jumble of life with all sorts of emotions. Life is just a messy collection of moments that add up to make us who we are today. I love my random collection of pictures.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ashley


Today is granddaughter #1's twenty-second birthday. I find it hard to believe that I have a grown up granddaughter. She was a baby just yesterday. Now she is living in Orlando working in an accounting internship at Disney World. She is a self-supporting grown-up young lady. Time really does fly.
The picture is of her standing in front of Casey's Corner, a hot-dog eatery on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. She worked there for four months before getting in the the accounting internship.
Isn't she beautiful?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Who?

Cynthia McKinney, Bob Barr, Ralph Nader, Chuck Baldwin. What do these people have in common with Barack Obama and John McCain? They are all running for president of the United States of America.
We received a sample ballot in the mail this week end. I was surprised to see that there were actually six candidates on the ballot plus a write in option. If you are still one of the undecided voters it seems that there are more options than I realized.
Our ballot also has two proposals to amend the state constitution. The first question is whether or not to allow early voting in Maryland. This is obviously already being done in other states. It seems like a good idea to me. Do you have any opposition to early voting? My neighbor says it increases the probability of voter fraud. What's your opinion?
The second question is whether or not to allow state sponsored slot machines. This idea is being pushed by the horse racing industry as a good way to increase funds for public schools. I'm not sure what I think about this one. It seems like lower income folks would be the ones who spend the most here and I'm not too comfortable with the whole idea. I know a lot of people love to play the slots. Bus loads of senior citizens travel to neighboring states to spend a day with the slot machines. What do you think? Are slot machines a good way for the state to raise money for the schools? Or is this just a way to enrich the racing and gaming industry?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Today is my firstborn daughter's forty-fifth birthday. We went out to lunch and had a lovely time celebrating together. Today's lunch was nice, but not nearly as memorable as her twenty-first birthday celebration.

Laurel had been married four months on her twenty-first birthday. She and her sweet young husband were living in Nashville Tennessee. She was far from home and a bit homesick. Her husband and I decided to surprise her on her birthday with the thing she was wanting the most, a visit from her mom. He told her that he had invited a classmate home and to prepare a little extra for dinner. A friend picked me up at the airport and just before dinner I walked into their little apartment. She screamed and jumped up and down for a long time. She just couldn't believe I was there. During the night she tiptoed into the living room to check and make sure that I was really there sleeping on their couch. She was very excited. The next day she had to go to work and I set about making birthday dinner and a birthday cake. Laurel loved spice cake and I came prepared with the ingredients for her favorite cake. I had made birthday cakes for her and her sister and brothers every year. I was a good baker. My cakes were always good – except that year. I'm not sure what I did wrong, but that was the ugliest cake I have ever made. When I started to spread the icing the cake started to split down the middle. I tried to repair the split with toothpicks and more icing. The split widened. There was a large gap that just grew beyond fixing. There was no time to bake another cake so we just celebrated with the world's ugliest cake. My beautiful daughter loved it. We ate every ugly bite with gales of laughter. That birthday cake is remembered with more smiles than any other I have ever baked.

Happy birthday my beautiful girl. I love you.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Autumn

We had a lovely day Saturday. Our son and grandson joined us for day of play. I'll share a few pictures
The color was not quite at it's peak, but the trees were still beautiful as we walked in the Catoctin Mountains.



We rested at Cunnigham Falls.


This covered bridge near Thurmont Maryland reminded us of quieter, more peaceful times.


You had to hold your nose to take a picture of 15,000 turkeys. They really did stink.


The day was topped off with a chance to go pumpkin chunkin'.



video

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Gift of Music

After water aerobics this morning I went to chat with a couple of my classmates. Their words left me feeling sad, angry and frustrated. They were telling one another why they were voting against Barack Obama. One said the only reason his mother got him up at four-thirty in the morning was to pray. His mother was a radical hippie who was teaching her son to be a Muslim. His mother had never really married his father and she was just going from one Muslim man to another. They were afraid of Obama because he is black and he could never understand how white people feel. I wanted to say many things, but there is no rational argument that is effective against bigotry and racism. I did say I thought they had some misinformation and that I would vote for Obama. They changed the topic and I soon left. I found their words disturbing because they were just a representation of the irrational fear they felt. It depressed me.

This afternoon I went to practice singing with the senior chorale. We are preparing for our holiday program which will be a set of ten hallelujah songs. There is quite a variety of music, everything from Handel to Ray Charles. The music we sang today was all happy, foot tapping , clapping music. It made me feel good to sing it. The room was filled with a happy sound that pretty much washed away the sadness of the morning.

I love that God has given the gift of music.

This is not our chorale singing, but it is one of the songs we are practicing. How can you not be happy singing this?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weddings


I love weddings. They are such happy, hopeful occasions. Love is in the air. The bride and groom are overwhelmed with romance and wonder. Families celebrate the joy. Friends share the love and the excitement. People travel from around the country to be together for the celebration. Weddings are just fun. Of course there is the whole serious side of the wedding that this couple is promising to share a lifetime together. It is a serious commitment. It is just a beautiful occasion.
This past weekend we joined our good friends Tim and Julie as their son Cory married his sweetheart. He and Brittaney seemed so happy. It was wonderful to see two families come to bless this young couple and to celebrate together.
Congratulations Cory and Brittany! God bless you on this new journey of life.

The bride and groom and Ava share a dance


Ava, the flower girl, daughter of the bride and groom


Drew and Mary Kate, brother and sister of groom


Tim and Julie, the groom's parents

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The election next month will mark the twelfth time I have voted in a presidential election. Six times I cast a vote for the winning candidate. Three times I voted for the Republican. I voted for Nixon, as did most of the country, and I voted for George H Bush. I will vote with the Democrats this election, meaning that nine times in twelve I voted Democrat. My first presidential vote went to Lyndon Johnson. LBJ for the USA was the chant around the country. It was shortly after the Kennedy assassination and LBJ was still riding JFK's popularity wave. He won in a landslide against a senator from Arizona, Barry Goldwater. I thought Goldwater was as scary as the current candidate from Arizona. I was afraid that he would take away social security and I was afraid that he would lead us into a nuclear holocaust. The times were scary. I remember lines stretching several blocks to vote in that 1964 election. People waited for hours. This is one of the ads run by LBJ that year.



I am more excited about and interested in the current campaign and election than I ever remember before. It is the first time I have ever felt strongly enough to donate my money towards a campaign. It has been a long, arduous campaign. I will be glad when it is over.

Who was the first person you voted for to be President of the United States?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Debate

I watched tonight's presidential debate. Truthfully I thought it was a bit boring. It was serious and civil and just a repetition of things they have both said before. This was no game changer. I still like Obama. I suspect those who liked McCain before the debate still like him afterward. I will be very glad when this election is over and we can talk about something else. It has just gotten meaner and dirtier lately. It is hard to listen to any more.
Today I went to class at church, went out to lunch with my husband and a good friend, went shopping, got a haircut, ate Chinese food for dinner and went to a deacons' meeting at church. What did you do today?

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Kingston Trio

A man who was an important part of my life died this week. I never met him, but he was a big part of my coming of age. His name was Nick Reynolds. He was the lead singer for the Kingston Trio. The music sung by this group filled my world in the years when I left home and began life as a young adult. It was the music I heard in the dark little cafe, the Ly Bayou, where my husband and I would hang out with a bunch of our college friends and talk about all the big, important issues of life. It was the music I heard on the radio at night in my dorm room. It was the music I played on my record player. Today when I hear these songs I am once again a nineteen year old girl filled with sadness for poor old Tom Dooley and wondering just Where Had All The Flowers Gone. The big question for all of us was whether or not Charlie would ever return.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Lexie Sue


Eleven years ago today I was in the delivery room with my daughter as she gave birth to her third child. It was an unbelievable experience to be present with my little girl as she went through labor and delivery. I can find no words to adequately describe what it felt like to be present at that time. When the moment of birth finally arrived her husband stood on one side and I stood on the other as she delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl. My little girl cried with relief and joy as she told me this baby would be named Alexandra Susan. This baby would carry my name. I cried at that and felt overwhelmed with joy. The new father and I stood gazing at this new life when I became aware of a commotion behind me. The obstetrician began barking commands. I heard words like hemorrhage, her pressure is falling, turn up the IV, may need to do surgery. My little girl was in trouble. I was overwhelmed with different emotions as I watched doctors and nurses rush to help her. Scared does not begin to describe the emotions surging through me. I don't know how long it was before the doctor finally said that it looked like everything was under control. They would keep my girl in the delivery area overnight where she would be monitored closely. If she was still OK in the morning we could assume all would be fine. All was well in the morning and the joy again overwhelmed the fear.
Lexie Sue is now a beautiful and talented young lady who brings this family great joy. Happy birthday Lexie Sue.

Friday, September 26, 2008

NASA


This week NASA is celebrating its fiftieth birthday. For forty-five of those years my rocket scientist husband has been involved with NASA and the exploration of space.He has many memories of his years there. He remembers launching rockets from White Sands, New Mexico. He worked with astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffee and was stunned with grief when they were killed in a fire on Apollo I. He has worked with projects little know to the public and with one project that won Nobel Prize. He studies the outer reaches of the universe and looks at the light left over from from creation. He loves his job. He is a lucky man.

NASA has given us many advances in science and technology. For me the moments I remember are moments of great human emotion. Do you remember these words?

“Houston, we have a problem.”
“The Eagle has landed.”
“That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
“The Challenger has exploded.”

Happy 50th NASA

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Choices

Near our house there is a busy highway interchange. The merge lane from the small road onto the highway is two lanes wide. Traffic is merging off the highway and onto the highway in the same merge lanes. The merge lanes are rather short so it is necessary to move into the oncoming traffic quickly and avoid being hit by one of the cars exiting the highway. It is one of those places where you have to pay attention. My husband and I have different strategies for this problem. He moves into the far right merge lane so he can observe the exiting traffic and then crosses both lanes of the merge area into the main flow of cars. I move into the left merge lane so I am closer to the main highway. That way I have less traffic to cross before I am in the main flow. He thinks his way is better. I think my way is better.

This little scenario is similar to the way people in this country are making political choices this fall. We all look at the same problems. We study what is happening and choose the route that seems like the best solution to what we see is going on. We don't always come up with the same solution to the same problem. I do not think my husband is wrong because he has chosen a different way to behave when merging into traffic. He understands that I think another way is better. We respect each others opinion and each of do what we think is best.

I wish we could be that civil about politics. I have looked at the big problems this country is facing and have decided that Obama and the Democrats are the better choice for my vote. I resent being called an assortment of bad names and having my intelligence questioned by those who disagree. We live in a very diverse country. Different opinions are normal. I just wish we could respect one another and not stoop to childish name calling when we come across people who have come to a different conclusion. It would be nice if we could respect one another and behave in a civil manner.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall




Today at 11:44:18A.M. EDT it officially became Autumn. I can tell by a quick glance in my backyard that Fall is here. My dogwood tree is covered in red berries and leaves are starting to change from green to yellow and red. The air is crisp and clean. I love this time of year. I love the colors. I actually like raking leaves into giant piles. Sometimes I still jump into those crunchy brown piles and am filled with laughter. I look forward to pumpkin pies, and drives through the colorful mountains to buy crispy apples and maybe a bag full of apple donuts.
My first memory of Fall came the year after we were married, 1962. We went to Sequoia National Park in California that September. Growing up in southern California I had never known any change in the seasons. That Fall the mountains were covered in bright yellow aspen trees quaking in the breeze. It was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. I stood mesmerized by the color. The pictures we took then still remind me of that sense of awe I felt that year seeing those magnificent colors.
What memories do you have of Fall?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Byrtle


My mom's name was Byrtle. Today is her birthday. She would have been 103 years old. Mom has always been my hero and the example of the kind of person I want to be. Now that I am a senior citizen I am still looking to her for examples of how to behave. This picture was taken when my mom was eighty-five years old. She was posing for a picture to advertise the church basketball team. If Byrtle could shoot baskets at eighty-five I guess I still have a lot of living left to do.

Happy birthday mother.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sarah Palin

My daughter AM recently posted this on her blog. In my opinion her words need to read by more people,so I am copying her post for you reading pleasure.

Monday, September 15, 2008
Rinsing the second tub of brown soapy water out of the tub where I was washing my son’s lacrosse gear, I was prompted to think of pitbulls with lipstick. Was I, as lacrosse mom, willing to call myself a bitch like Sarah Palin? Isn’t that what she meant when she called herself a female dog?

In order for a woman to get ahead in the world of business, politics, and even church, women have to have a little ferocity. What is called power and ambition in men is often called bitchiness in women. That reaction is so common, that women have taken back the word. I have received chain e-mails defining bitch as a Babe In Total Control of Herself. One of my favorite songs is by Meredith Brookes on her “Blurring the Lines” CD simply called “Bitch.”

I’m sure I have been called a bitch. I heard it when I was a teacher. I imagine it happened behind my back at work a time or two. It may have entered my children’s minds. There have been a few romances gone badly that may have inspired someone to utter the word in reference to me. I’m sure Hillary Clinton has been called a bitch.

As I laid the dripping, Crisp Linen scented lacrosse pads out to dry in the sun, I considered what has moved me to snarl through my lipstick and call someone a bitch. I don’t think I’ve ever called someone a bitch to her face. When someone takes an offensive position, choosing to bare their teeth and overlook a host of more civilized responses, she is being a mean bitch. When a woman behaves offensively, saying cutting words that are impulsively stupid, I might call her a dumb bitch. There are equivalent terms for men who are mean and stupid, but that is another essay. Bitch means mean.

I know some women joke around and call each other bitches as part of their friendship culture, but I don’t joke around like that. Isn’t that the same double standard as black people calling each other nigga? They are both derogatory terms. It wouldn’t be funny if Obama used that word to describe himself. I didn’t think Palin was funny either. She undercut herself with that comparison after have risen so unexpectedly to this height. It was disrespectful. Although we are accustomed to a mean vice president, I don’t think we necessarily need meanness to be part of the job.

What ever happened to diplomacy? How about dignity? I’m tired of leadership that behaves embarrassingly. I want a leader for my country who can reach a hand out to the world without his or her middle finger raised.

I am so glad that we as a country have opened up enough to have women taken seriously enough to run for major political offices. I just wish it was a woman who was valued for her intelligence, diplomacy, compassion and experience.

The choice of Sarah Palin bothers me as a feminist because she seems to have been chosen for her appearance. It seems youth and beauty still trump experience. The same women who faulted Hillary for “only” being the First Lady and a freshman senator are waving around Palin signs with lipstick on them.

What about Senators Hutchinson, Mikulski, or Madeline Albright? Does a woman’s appearance still count for more than her experience? Does she have to be a bitch in high heels? Can’t she just be qualified? I see the answer to those questions in the paper every morning.

I know, I know that Obama doesn’t have any more experience than she does, but he has the dignity and intelligence I think a president should have. I think Hillary would have been better, but it seems that America wasn’t ready for a woman with authentic strength. McCain is too outdated, not to mention Republican. His back up plan, Palin seems ill-equipped for the job. If you took away all the personalities and appearances, I would still vote Democratic. I’m sure that when the Democrats win, Palin will use those eight years to get some authentic experience and study up. Now that she has been yanked into the spotlight, she is here to stay.

Choosing a woman because of the emotion she incites is not exactly the reason I would vote for a woman. When the excitement has subsided, I want someone who can take this country to new heights. We have been brought low these last eight years. This lacrosse mom is looking for a new leadership that will make us a winning team again. I’d love a woman to be in command, but not a bitch.
Posted by AM Kingsfield at 9:22 PM

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

John


Today is grandson number one's nineteenth birthday. Happy birthday to my sweet, compassionate guitar hero.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Evening News

Watching the evening news is depressing. I don't mean all the depressing stories about the bad economy, never-ending wars and catastrophic weather events, it's the commercials that depress me. During the thirty minute broadcast I saw ads for products to help my osteoporosis and ads for men with an enlarged prostate. There was one for men who are concerned about their gray hair and one telling the wonders of vitamins for the mature adult. There was of course the ad with a couple sitting in two bathtubs on the beach, which always seemed a bit odd to me. The product they advertise is for erectile dysfunction with the caution about calling the doctor after four hours. These ads are a break from the constant barrage of mud-slinging politics, but they did make feel old.

My assumption from the ads is that only old people watch the evening news.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sofie


Today we celebrate my fourth grandchild's fifteenth birthday. Sofie is a sweet young lady with many talents. She has a beautiful voice and sings in the chamber choir. She does well in school , making mostly good grades. She is a queen bee in her church youth group. She is constantly surrounded by a group of friends who are nice kids. She is a master at texting. I have watched her and her friends text each other on their cell phones while they are sitting next to one another. This beautiful girl loves me. She is one of God's great blessings.

I love you, Sofie. Happy birthday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Enough

I'm sick of political sound bites and mud slinging. There are many issues that need to be discussed in this campaign. I understand that this country of ours is a very diverse place and we will have different opinions on which candidate will do the best job. It would be good to discuss those issues. But instead all I heard about today was lipstick and silliness. Enough is enough! I refuse to listen to any more of this garbage.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Magic Kingdom



We have just returned from a lovely visit with our granddaughter, our Disney princess. She is loving working in the Magic Kingdom. It was great fun have her as our guide through this place that she feels is her own The picture is our Princess Pixie Dust with some girl named Cinderella.

Disneyland and Disney world are places full of magical memories for us. Every place we turned we were reminded of other times when we were there.

May 15, 1960 was the day my beloved asked me to marry him. We celebrated by going to Disneyland where all the lights and magic were just for us. The Peter Pan ride is always a wonderful romantic memory for us. As the years went by we were blessed with four children. We took them to Disneyland, all dressed in matching shirts so we could find them more easily. Seeing it all through their believing eyes was one of the best moments of parenthood. The children grew up and blessed us with eight grandchildren. We took them all to Disney World. Watching them bubbling with joy at the sight of Mickey Mouse and all the other characters was such fun. Now our oldest granddaughter is working for Disney and as a young adult still enjoys the magic.

For our family it really is a Magic Kingdom.



Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Princess Pixie Dust

Greeting from Orlando, Florida.

We arrived here Sunday night after driving south on I-95 for two days. Our purpose was fulfilled when our beautiful granddaughter, Princess Pixie Dust, got off work. She has been working here in the Magic Kingdom since May. She is having a wonderful time, but was in great need of a hug from her gramma and grampa. It has been wonderful to listen to the high drama of a genuine Disney princess. She is sharing an apartment here with six twenty-one year old women, so life is full of great drama.

Tomorrow she is taking us to Disney's Animal Kingdom so grampa can see birds. Thursday she is taking us to see her Magic Kingdom. It is wonderful to be here with her.

I'll post some pictures when we get home.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Queenie

While traveling through blogland I came upon a blog by a woman from England who goes by the name of Queenie. Her name brought back memories that made me curious enough to visit her blog.

Our older son went to a small Christian college in California. It was far from home, but we had relatives nearby and that is where he wanted to go. I missed this boy who was so bright and ready for college. He flew home for the Christmas holiday and we were eager to hear all his stories. While walking to baggage claim I asked how school was going. He said fine but he was going to sure miss someone. “Who is that?” I asked. “I've met a girl, Mom,” he replied. It was the first we had heard about this so I was full of questions.

Me. “Is she a freshman too?”
Son. “No, Mom, she is a sophomore.”
Me. “Oh, how old is she?”
Son. “She's twenty-five.”
Me. “Where is she from?”
Son. “She's from Thailand.”
Me. “What's her name?”
Son. “Queenie.”
Me. “Queenie?”
Son. “That's a nickname. Her name is actually ****.” ( Her name was too long and too foreign sounding for me to pronounce. I had to practice until I could say say it correctly.)
Me. “Does she go to church with you?”
Son. “She comes sometimes.”
Me. “What religion is she?”
Son. “She's a Buddhist.”

By the time we reached baggage claim I had discovered that my eighteen-year-old son was in love with a twenty-five-year old Buddhist woman called Queenie whose real name I could not pronounce. It was hard for me to process all this information.

That evening he was sitting in the living room telling me all about this wonderful girl who had stolen his heart. He didn't think I could possibly understand how he felt. “Mom,” he asked,”Have you ever been in love?” I told him that I loved his father. He replied,”No, Mom, I mean really in love!” He then rolled of the couch and did a back flip and gazed dreamily up to the ceiling.

That first love did not last. He later found the true love of his life and has been happily married for eighteen years.

Who was your first love?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thanks

Thanks you all for your thoughtful comments and the prayers for my family. I felt your love and concern and I cried.

I have loved watching the democratic convention. Michelle Obama and Hillary were both marvelous. They made me proud to be both a woman and a democrat. Bill Clinton did good last night. Joe Biden and his story inspired me. He is a great choice as a running mate. I am looking forward to hearing Barak tonight.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bill & Jean


I talked to my brother Bill tonight. Life is hard now and the conversation was painful. Jean is in the long-term care facility. She is receiving good nursing care and has made some progress. One side is completely paralyzed, but she is breathing without assistance and has even spoken a few words. That is more progress than we had hoped for, but her condition is still very grim. Her words are few. She has said things like,”Hurts,” “This is terrible,” and “I can't stand this.” Bill does not find much comfort in knowing how much she is suffering. When asked if she knew his name she said, “Bill.” Once she said, “Vicoden.,” the pain medicine she is receiving. Her brain is working and she knows she is hurting. How awful it must be to wake up trapped in a body that always hurts and no longer works.

My heart breaks for them. Pray for this sweet couple as they struggle through a very hard time.

The picture is from their wedding day thirty-nine years ago.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

5 Thoughts From Last Week

1.Finding long lost relatives has caused me to think about our common heritage. I am thankful for the wellspring of love that flows from my grandparents down through the generations to bless my grandchildren, their great great grandchildren whom they never even met.

2.We began rehearsals again with the Bowie Senior Chorale. The first day back after our summer break felt like the first day of school. I love singing with this group.

3.I hate negative political ads.

4.I have loved the Visa ads for the Olympics. Go World!

5.The house seems very quiet after the grandchildren go home.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Texas


I just can't resist talking a little more about my Texas family. The highlight of summer when I was a kid was our annual trip to see the Texas kinfolk. Usually we drove from California to San Antonio where my grandparents lived. As we crossed the border into Texas my mom made us sing,

Oh, beautiful, beautiful Texas
The most beautiful state that I know.
We're proud of our forefathers,
Who fought at the Alamo.
You may live on the plains or the mountains
Or down where the sea breezes blow,
But, you'll still be in beautiful Texas
The most beautiful state that I know.

Texans are all very proud of their state. My cousins used to tease me because I lived in California and Texas was so much better. I really didn't understand their pride. Texas was hot! They had chiggers that could eat you for lunch. I just never did get their pride. But I did love going to Texas. The whole clan came to visit and life was a great big party during our visit. There was watermelon in the backyard and playing in the sprinkler with my cousins. There were great adventures out to Martindale, the very small town where TG and Wilma lived. TG was a hunter and I got to eat squirrel at their house. When bath time came we all had to share the same tub full of water. I was company so I got to go first and everyone else took their baths in the same tub full of water after me. The last one to bathe had cold, dirty water.

I remember clearly one year as we were leaving standing by the car while all the grownups cried and said good bye. My cousin Kenny told me that the next time I came I had to be the host and he would get to do everything first.

The picture is the family gathered after church. I am the giggly girl leaning into my mom and dad. Kenny is kneeling in front between my two brothers. Don't you love all the hats!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cousins


I grew up in California. Most of my cousins lived in Texas. We saw each other only on our annual summer vacation to visit my grandparents and other Texas relatives. We had fun together as kids, but we drifted apart and did not keep in touch as adults. I no longer know any of my cousins. This week has, therefore, been a most unusual week. There was a comment on the blog last week from DD. DD is married to my first cousin John David. I haven't seen him since he was a little boy and I knew nothing about his current life. The next day I got a letter in the mail from my first cousin, Dot. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama. She was just a baby last time I saw her. She has a facebook page full of old family photographs. It was fun to look at those days long gone and remember summers with my cousins in Texas.

The picture is my mother's family. My mom, Byrtle, is on the left in the back. Next to her are her sisters, Dorthy and Rubye. Her two little brothers TG and James Franklin are seated on the couch on either side of my grandparents. My grandparents had fourteen grandchildren. DD, who commented on the blog is married to TG's youngest son. Dot is James Franklin's youngest child. It was such a pleasant surprise to hear om them.

Do you know your cousins? Are they a part of your life?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rehoboth Beach


We have just returned from a two day trip to Rehoboth Beach, one of my favorite places. Our son and grandson joined us there for a little beach fun. We spent the day playing in the waves, making sandcastles and flying a kite. All of that activity can make a body hungry. We started talking about what we wanted to eat. The boardwalk has so many tantalizing foods that are part of a beach vacation. We agreed to start with a big pizza from Grottos. The problem we had was that we were only there for two days and our tummies just couldn't hold all of our cravings. Obviously we had to find room for a bucket of Thrashers fries. Then all the other goodies were there for us. An orange/vanilla twist cone from Korhs custard, a big candied apple, caramel corn, chocolate covered strawberries , funnel cakes, cotton candy, shaved Hawaiian ice and salt water taffy were all tempting us. We just couldn't eat it all, which was a little sad. We bought some goodies to bring home and stopped at one of many produce stands along the road home. I thought our tummies would appreciate some fresh fruits and vegetables after our day of boardwalk gorging.

What food do crave when you are on the boardwalk?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ponies


A few years ago while visiting in California my husband, daughter and I invited my brother Bill and his beloved Jean to join us for lunch at a restaurant on the Santa Monica Pier. They were excited about joining us. The memory of that afternoon still makes me smile.

My big brother is short, only about five feet tall. Jean is smaller. Neither of them are very healthy. They are an adorable little old couple who hold hands when they walk. To say that Jean walks slowly would be a gross understatement. It is difficult for the rest us of to move at such a slow shuffle. That afternoon we parked in the closest spot to the pier so we would have only a few steps to reach our destination. It took about fifteen minutes to cross the short distance. We finally reached the pier and there before us was a beautiful antique carousel going around and around to the carnival music. I love carousels and I wanted to ride this one. Jean's eyes lit up when she saw it and she wanted to ride too. It was wonderful. We had assumed that Bill and Jean would sit in one of the swan benches that were available, but no, that would not do. Jean wanted to ride one of the ponies. Of course Bill wanted Jean to do whatever she wanted. Jean slowly shuffled over to her chosen pony. There was no way she could get up without help. Bill, Dennis and Ann all pushed and shoved until she was safely mounted. Then Bill with slightly less difficulty mounted the pony next to hers and we all found a ride for ourselves. Jean laughed and laughed as we whirled around with the music in our ears and the salt air blowing in our faces.

The next day we were all together with my other brother Joe and his wife Judy. I overheard Jean telling Judy about the wonderful time we had had the day before.”It was wonderful,” Jean said, “We all rode the ponies on the beach.”

This week Jean is being to a long-term acute care facility. It is a terrible place where they care for people with horrible medical conditions. The rooms are crowded and small. There is only a small chair by her bed where Bill can sit. There is little privacy. There is little hope and less joy.

I am grateful that we do have sweet memories to sustain us.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cool Gramma

You can say a lot without even using real word. For example, last week we bought a new 46” 120Hz 1080p LCD HDTV. We are quite excited about it. While watching the Olympics I feel like I'm right in the pool with all those magnificent swimmers. It is amazing to feel so close to the action. We also decided to get one of those Blu Ray DVD players. The young salesman talked us into upgrading that to a PS3. It has a great Blu Ray and for just a little more money we now have a wonderful game system. My grandsons think I am now one cool gramma. To complete the experience we added Guitar Hero. I have yet to master one song, but it is fun to play with the boys who are very patient with my inexperience. They tell me not to be discouraged and to just keep practicing. My thirteen year old said, “Don't worry Gramma. I sucked when I started too.” So I guess I will practice some more. I don't want to let the boys down.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hibiscus Lessons



One of the prettiest plants in my yard is a hibiscus. Every morning I go out and enjoy it's big beautiful pink blossoms. It is just a spectacular sight all day. As the sun goes down the blooms whither, turn brown and fall off. The next morning a new set of flowers show off their loveliness and the yesterday's blooms litter the ground and are blown away by the wind.

I talked with my brother Bill a long time tonight. His beloved wife Jean remains non- responsive. It has been a month since she fell and hit her head. She was fine one moment and then she was in the hospital having brain surgery. She has not awakened since her surgery. She is breathing on her own without the ventilator, but the neurological damage appears to be severe. She may never be aware of her husband's presence again. It is hard.

During the last six years Bill and Jean have enjoyed over twenty cruises. They love shipboard life and went every opportunity they had. Bill's advice to me tonight was to seize the day. Enjoy each and every moment of this precious life God gives you. Bloom brightly and enjoy your day in the sun light.

Good advice from my big brother.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Lion King

For my husband's birthday last February I gave him tickets to see the Lion King at the Kennedy Center because I wanted to see it. Last night the date for the performance finally came. It was worth the wait.
I love going to the Kennedy Center. It is in a beautiful location. From the rooftop terrace you can see all the big monuments of Washington. Across the Potomac you can see the Pentagon and the Air Force Monument. Yesterday the weather was perfect and the skyline was beautiful. I am always impressed when I realize that I actually live here.
The show was a high energy, delightful entertainment full of spectacular, colorful costumes and great music. I knew all the music from the movie, but this was a far more powerful story. It had some intense scenes that made me cry and some wonderful funny lines that made me laugh out loud. I loved the song, “He Lives In Me.” Now that I am the grandmother of young adults I like the thought that their lives are a reflection of all those in their past. I like the idea of living in the lives they now live.
If you ever have the opportunity to see this show, go. It will make you smile.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Camping with Boys

This week I joined my daughter on a camping trip with her thirteen-year-old son and three of his buddies. We had a delightful time together.
Thirteen-year-old boys are a breed all their own. These guys have bodies that have suddenly gotten bigger and voices that have suddenly gotten deeper. They had a wonderful time all day doing manly things like setting up their tent, canoing, chopping firewood and building a campfire. They loved the freedom to play and roam the woods by themselves. They were manly men. At night they crawled into their tent laughing and talking. Our campsite was about a hundred yard away so they felt alone. As they got sleepy they noticed that the night is full of noises that these city boys aren't used to hearing. They could hear scary, unidentified things moving around outside their tent. My daughter's cell phone rang. They needed a mom. These manly men had no objection when she crawled into their tent and sang to them until they were able to fall sleep.
This is one of the songs she sang as their lullaby that night.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Memories


As with all vacations, the time came to leave and return home again. We are left with wonderful memories and over 700 pictures. I am so glad we could go. It was a wonderful adventure, but it was time to return to home and the good life we live here.
I can't say it was the best vacation ever, but it was mighty good. God made a great big world and exploring it is an exciting wonderful thing.
What makes a vacation wonderful? What are some of your wonderful vacation memories?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Giant Tortoises



No visit to the Galapagos would be complete without seeing giant tortoises. On the island of Santa Cruz we had our chance to see them in the wild and later at the Charles Darwin research center. I loved seeing them in the wild, just lumbering along at their very slow pace, munching grass as they went. These creatures weigh up to 500 pounds and live more than 150 years. There are currently eleven species of giant tortoises. At one time there were more than thirty different species, but people have made life difficult for the tortoise. The most noticeable difference is the shape of their shells. Some are domed, others are saddle backed. These differences were among the observations that helped Darwin to conceive of his theory of evolution and the survival of the fittest.





According to the shipboard naturalist, we can all learn some very important life lessons from observing the tortoise. This the list.
1.Eat you vegetables.
2.Get a minimum of eight hours sleep every night.
3.Slow down and reduce stress.
4.Have sex for at least four hours every day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rabida Island

We sailed back northward toward the equator and came to Rabida Island. I have now seen thousands of blue footed boobies and thousands of magnificent frigate birds, but I still get excited with each new sighting. I just have a hard time believing that I am really here and really seeing all of this. Marine iguanas are sunning on every rock and we just walk around the sea lions on the beach. What an amazing place this is!

We found a nesting area of pelicans today. Newly hatched birds were is every nest. We watched as the mom regurgitated into her bill and the baby then ate out of her bill. Look closely at the first picture and you can see the tiny baby eating. It was an awesome thing to see.





We went to Bashra Beach on Santa Cruz Island in the afternoon and found a lagoon full of flamingos. I just sat down and watched these graceful birds. They are truly beautiful.





Dennis was quite excited about seeing this Galapagos mockingbird. It was another rare find for his life time list.



Each day here is full of wonder.