Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Todd

Todd is thirty-six years old today. He has been drifting in and out of my thoughts all day. So many memories. So many questions.

Todd is our foster son. He came to live with us when he was fifteen years old. He was a sweet boy with a long, troubled past. I never did learn all the stories of his life before he became part of our family. I know there were stories of abandonment, fear and abuse. All that seemed irrelevant to us. He was a boy in need of a home. We had a home that seemed too empty after our kids had grown and gone.


The picture above was taken shortly after he came to live with us. He did not trust people. We were just the next people in line to take care of him. There had been at least ten parental figures in his life before we knew him. He came to us from a children's home. He always referred to it as “The Home.” It never was just home. Our first year together was one of many ups and downs and adjustments. He became our son. We loved him. When he got into some major trouble he quietly packed his bags and prepared to leave. In his past life getting into trouble meant getting kicked out and moving on to the next place. We made him unpack and he stayed. I smiled when I overheard him talking to his friends and he referred to us as his mom and dad and invited his friends to come home with him. Life smoothed out. He learned to drive. He graduated from high school. The picture below was taken when he was seventeen. He was a beautiful boy.


He married and had a little baby girl, but adult responsibility was too hard for Todd. The social worker said he was troubled with attachment deficit syndrome. I believe that his early life had left him with a hole in his heart. One day he climbed into his truck and just drove away. We have not heard from him in over six years. I miss him.

His eleven year old daughter promised me this week that she would always love me. She promised she would never disappear like her daddy did.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not a Shooting Star

I just watched the space shuttle/space station fly right over my house. It is hard to believe that the shooting star soaring across the sky is carrying thirteen people flying at 15,000 mph. Amazing!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Our town is blessed with a minor league baseball team, the Bowie Baysox. Last night was perfect baseball weather so we went to see our team play the Redding Phillies.It was great fun. The players are all very young and excited to be playing professional baseball. We saw friends and neighbors. We discovered again how much better a hot dog tastes with a baseball game in front of it. There were stupid games between the innings that made us laugh. We enjoyed the earth worm digging contest and the tire/ plunger relay. After the game there was a huge pillow fight among the hundred or more fans who had brought their pillows for this purpose. It would have been a perfect evening if our team had won, but, alas, that did not happen.

When was the last time you watched a baseball game?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reciepts

While cleaning out my closet today I found a box of old receipts. These may explain why I find today's prices hard to pay. Here is a list of some of the papers and receipts I found.

1.Our marriage license issued in June 1961 by the county of Los Angeles - $2.00. What does a marriage license cost today?

2.A telegram offering my new husband, a graduate of Cal Tech, a job at Douglas Aircraft. Salary offered was $600 per month. We couldn't imagine needing that much money.

3.A receipt from the pretty little inn where we honeymooned, the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, - $20 per night.

4.The rental agreement for our first apartment, a nice 2 bedroom place in Culver City, CA- $90 per month.

5.The rental agreement for our first house, a lovely 3 bedroom with a big yard in Santa Monica, CA - $150 per month.
6.The hospital bill for our first child. She was born at UCLA Medical Center in 1963. I was in the hospital for three days. - $160.

7.In 1964 we moved to Maryland and my husband went to work for NASA. He was a GS 11 which meant he could earn $8000 annually. The highest salary a government worker could earn, a GS 18, was $20,000 annually.

8.Our second child was born in 1965 in Maryland. The cost had gone up considerably. The total hospital bill for her birth was $258.

9.Receipts from the pediatrician show that an office visit was $5 and a DPT shot was another $3. What is the cost of an office visit today?

10.We bought the house we still live in in 1964. The cost was $16,400.

This might explain why folks my age have a hard time understanding the cost of living in today's world.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tour de France

I have been watching a lot of the Tour de France this year. I know nothing about cycling except that Lance Armstrong has won this race a bunch of times and has yellow bracelets that people like to wear. I wanted to see what it was that made my niece get up at O-dark-thirty to watch men on bicycles. Here are some of my observations after watching a few days.

1.I want to go to France. The scenery is stunning. I think I would prefer to tour in a car instead of on a bike.

2.The race is a team sport. Who knew?

3.There is a yellow jersey awarded to each day's winner. There is also a green, a polka-dotted and a white jersey that are big awards. I don't understand how points are awarded for each of these winners.

4.It is a very long event. The course winds around France and it's borders for over 2000 miles. The cyclists have amazing endurance.

5.The spectators are crazy. They crowd up so close to the riders that it is scary. They touch the riders and run along beside them. It must be nerve-wracking for the riders. I was not surprised to hear a spectator was killed by an escort motorcycle.

6.Yesterday's race up the mountains was really very exciting.

7.I want to go to France.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Recycling

We discovered the floor in our storage shed. You can actually walk in and see what is in there.

Our town had a community shred and electronic recycling event today. We got rid of a box of canceled checks dating back to 1964. The old electronics took up a huge amount of space. My techie husband had accumulated lots of gadgets over the years. We recycled three old computers, keyboards, scanners, printers, monitors, TVs, old phones, VCRs, set top boxes, zip drives, an old UPS, a tape drive back-up system, modems, speakers, receivers, a radio and mice. I'm sure I missed something, but we filled the back of my station wagon. I'm not sure how all that stuff gets recycled, but I sure am glad to it gone.

What do you do with your old, broken, unusable electronics?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

One Small Step

Where were you forty years ago today?
Do you remember what you were doing when this happened?

Poem

I think this poem is very profound.

Autobiography in Five Chapters
By: Nyoshul Khenpo

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost.....I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again.
I can't believe I'm in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in...it's a habit
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it

I walk down another street.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Funeral Music

I have attended far too many funerals recently. These friends were my contemporaries, people who have lived full and happy lives, and are now suddenly just gone. They leave a hole in my world.

All these good-byes have made me think about the inevitability of my own death and wonder about what will be said and done when my time comes. Music is always an important part of a memorial service. I have always told my family I want them to play “When the Saints Go Marching In,” preferably with a brass band. I want them to remember this is a celebration of heaven and a time of joy. I intend to be marching along with all the saints in a happy parade. My favorite hymn has always been”When Peace Like A River.” Play that hymn and remember me. And here's one more song. It has some parting advice from me to all those I leave behind. I do like this song.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Swim for Life



Friday evening my son had to “carb load” for the big swim meet he was to swim on Saturday. He invited anyone in the family who could to come eat spaghetti with him as he prepared for the event. With the offer of free food fourteen relatives showed up to help him eat the ton of food he had prepared. Our family is good to help each other when free food is involved. We all ate like we were going to swim with him.

Saturday morning we all met at the Chester River near Chestertown on Maryland's Eastern Shore. David was one of the 215 swimmers who were participating in the Swim for Life race. Swimmers could choose to swim either one, two, three, four, or five miles. David swam five miles. Swimming in a choppy, murky river is a lot harder than swimming in a pool. These were some strong, athletic people. We all cheered him on at the start and then sat and enjoyed relaxing in the sunshine and visiting for the next two hours. We cheered those who swam the shorter races as they completed their swims and began to anxiously watch for our man to come into sight. We were excited to finally spot him as he approached the finish line and cheered wildly. He ran out of the river through the finish gate and collapsed onto the sand. I've never seen him so exhausted. After about ten minutes my tired, dehydrated boy drank two big bottles of water and began to look like he would recover. The exertion had left him quivering, sore, and nauseated. He wasn't sure he ever wanted to swim again.

He called this afternoon to report that he was fine today. He had polished off a huge dinner last night and felt great today. He is talking about swimming across the Chesapeake Bay next year.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

VBS

Sunday night our church building did a quick change over as the chocolate world of Wonka turned into the land of Moses and ancient Egypt. This is Vacation Bible School week. It is a lot of hard work for a lot of adults and a world of fun and adventure for the little ones. I have been shepherding a group of three and four-year-olds from song-time, to story-time, to game-time, and to craft-time. The kids say and do things every night that make me laugh.

One lesson was about how mean Pharaoh was when he wouldn't let the people go.The kids acted out the plagues that God sent to Egypt. They stuck red dots all over Pharaoh to represent boils, and threw wadded up paper at him to represent hailstones. One little girl said she thought we should try being nice to mean ol' Pharaoh and then he might let the people go. I think it's wonderful to see the innocence of a four-year-old who thinks being nice will overcome evil.



I took a little three-year old boy to the bathroom. He assured me he needed no help, then proceeded to lock himself into the stall. After doing what he came to do he was unable to unlock the stall. I surely could not crawl under to rescue him. I had to enlist the help of a near-by child to come to his rescue.

During game time one evening the kids were getting pretty wet. They had to cross a bridge over a small pool while squirt gun were aimed in their direction. One practical little fellow did not want to get his clothes wet, so he took them all off and ran into the water in his birthday suit. He did not understand why people were laughing at him.



I'm amazed at how much the kids actually learn during all this fun and frolic. While driving some of them home I hear them telling each other what they learned. They learn the Bible stories and songs and tell each other not to be afraid because God is always with them.

It is powerful thing for a child to know that God loves them.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Willie Wonka





Part of our July 4th celebration included attending the matinée performance of Willie Wonka. Our church has a theater troupe which has just presented an excellent rendition of Roald Dahl's chocolaty story. I am amazed at the talent that I saw. Most of the performers were children, but many adults were in the cast also. It was an amazing set. The costumes were wonderful. The patience and hard wok of the directors were awesome. My talented eleven year granddaughter was the understudy for Mike TV. In the other shows she one of the Oompa Loompas. The understudy cast did the show on the Fourth. They were all just as talented as the main cast, just a bit younger.

I think I will be singing, “Oompa Loompa Oompa Dee Do” for a long time.

Well done to the entire cast and crew!

video

Friday, July 03, 2009

Rehoboth Beach


I have just returned from a lovely three day stay in Rehoboth Beach with my two beautiful teen-aged granddaughters. It was a lot of fun. While we were there I received the coveted title of “The Coolest Gramma Ever.” It is one of my favorite titles.

We arrived several hours before we were able to check into our hotel so we headed straight to Whiskey Beach, one of my favorite places. Don't look for it on the map. Maps refer to it as Gordon Pond State Park, kind of a boring name. Whiskey Beach was the name given to it during the days of prohibition when rum-runners used it to sneak their cargo ashore and soldiers from a near-by army base used it for parties. These days it is a clean quiet beach. There is only one concession stand where you rent umbrellas and buy snacks, so there is none of the distraction of the boardwalk. There are two tall look-out towers on the beach, relics of World War II when they were used to watch for enemy ships. The girls frolicked in the surf, we walked down to investigate the towers, and spent a great deal of time people watching. The beach is a wonderful place for people watching.

When we checked into our hotel I went to the pool and left the room to the girls for about an hour so they could shower and change for an evening on the boardwalk. When I arrived in the room they had showed and were dressing for the evening. I showered and changed so we could leave, but waited another hour. It takes teenage girls a long time to dress. They had to try on all of each others clothes and mix and match their outfits multiple times. It seems that wearing the right thing on the boardwalk is very important. After all a boy might notice them. The evening was fun. After the required dinner of Grotto's Pizza we checked out all the shops and had our picture made at the Old Time Photos shop. You can see by the result that they thought this was fun. I was getting tired and left them to ride the rides at Funland and went back to the hotel for some quiet time.

The next day was rainy. We did some Outlet shopping, ate good food, laughed a lot, got henna tattoos, and rode the bumper cars together at Funland. Spending time with these two girls is such a treat.

We woke up yesterday to beautiful sunshine and blue sky, a perfect day for the beach, but, after a short stroll on the sand and a stop at two more shops, we had to pack up and head for home. As we pulled away they gave me my coveted Cool Gramma title.