Friday, May 27, 2011

Packed & Pooped

I love the idea of getting away for the weekend, but I'd rather have a root canal than try packing for a three day adventure. I'm not organized, patient, or very innovative. And the bed of the truck ends up looking like my linen closet when I'm all done- wadded up, packed to the hilt, and ready to cause a major catastrophe when the tail gate is opened.
Because of possible rain issues, I had to pack by myself this morning while my husband was at work. You would think we were moving. Or homeless. Or trash men.
I loaded three large coolers, one tent, a small recliner, 2 corn hole game boards, a guitar, a bag of bedding, tools, karaoke machine, three bags of luggage, a bag of  food, extra shoes, tractor battery, air mattresses, and all other kinds of "I -just- can't-do -without- that" stuff.
It took me over an hour. I broke two nails, stubbed my big toe, sprained my back and ripped my jacket.
Okay. Maybe I'm exaggerating just a bit.
But one thing I did do was step in a big pile of fresh dog crap! (It did not belong to my dog, either!) Talk about stinky! I almost added puke to the list of items in the truck.
I was wearing my favorite, most comfortable flip flops, too, which I will most certainly have to scrub down before I get set off down the road.

Sure- it will be nice to get this all loaded and go relax for the weekend, but somehow it must all be packed again for the trip home. Sometimes I wonder if it's all worth it...

What are you having for your Memorial Day cookout? We are smoking a fresh ham and chickens, pork butt, and hot dogs. I made potato salad, buffalo chicken dip, cowboy beans, and deviled eggs. Family members are bringing s'mores, lemon bars, mint brownies and fresh fruit. Yum-O. Rachel Ray- eat your heart out!

I hope you all enjoy the last few days of May- and please take the time out from your fun holiday to remember the men and women who have served our country. Those who have protected our freedom, risked their lives, and made us proud. We salute you!

Wear your sunscreen or pack an umbrella- depending where you live. But be sure to relax, enjoy the beginning of summer- and do like I do- Eat Till it Ouches You!
See you all soon!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Circle of Life

I arrived in this world in a nutshell,
swimming in a sea of only "me".
And so, 
I floated quietly into the light-
and was born...

My mother took me in her arms,
placed me softly in a big ship called "Family"
and I sailed happily through life
on a calm and beautiful sea.

Then I met a man who smiled and said, "Come with me."
and his heart swept me up into a canoe called "Marriage".
we paddled together through hurricanes
and golden sunsets
and held tightly to this journey called "Love".

When our children were born, 
we built our own ship called "Family".
And every day was an adventure- every ocean a wonder.
Years passed and seasons changed....

one by one, 
our children left the boat-
navigating their sails to other seas-
as I watched them fade on the horizon like a milky dream.

We moved back to our little canoe
and let ourselves drift in peaceful waters-
no longer in a hurry to reach the shore...

Someday, I will return to my nutshell.

When I am old and gray and my days are no more-
I will swim in a sea of only "me",
float quietly into the light-

and be born again....

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Son

Twenty-seven years ago next Saturday (May 21st) , I gave birth to my third child (and my only son).

I had been confined to bed rest since my forth month due to a complication called placenta praevia. And my doctor informed me that I would require a C-section when the time came to deliver, because a natural birth would put both the baby and I in jeopardy.

The morning I arrived at the hospital for my scheduled C-section, the doctor decided to do another series of ultrasounds to determine the exact location of the placenta. 
It had moved! I was free to go home and wait for the labor pains to begin on their own. 
(Which proved to be a few days later.)

However, my regular doctor was out of town and his replacement was apprehensive about delivery because of my history. So, they ordered an ambulance to transport me to another hospital about twenty miles away that provided a specialist who was brought in to confer.

Another series of sonograms were taken and I was assigned a comfortable room where my labor pains became more regular. 
Then the specialists came to my bedside and he told my husband and I that the sonograms showed a deformity. 
We were told that the baby's head was small, although the arms and legs were of normal proportion. He suspected that the "soft spot" had fused together, and in the process, the brain had failed to grow. Four other professionals had studied the tests and they all agreed.

"Are you saying that the baby will have mental challenges?" We asked.

"Your child will have to be put in a home- an institution of sorts- where you'll be able to visit. The defect will be too extreme for you to provide care on your own." We were told.

I was in shock. It just didn't soak in at first. But then I saw my husband sobbing as he stood staring out the window and I knew I wasn't dreaming.

Then the doctors decided to slow my contractions down in order to do an amniocentesis because they suspected that the baby was not yet developed enough to be born.

Five doctors formed a circle around me as a large needle was inserted into my abdomen and fluid removed. And when those tests proved that the lungs were fully developed, they allowed me to continue the labor process.

I prayed. More than I ever prayed in my life. I just would not let myself believe that this baby would not be one I could cradle in my arms and watch grow up into a normal child.
My husband told his mother what was happening- and soon a prayer chain was started.
There were hundreds of people praying for my unborn child to be healthy.

When I came closer to the delivery stage, the doctor gave me something to relax because my husband was told, "we don't want her fully conscious- she shouldn't see the baby."

"I can go in the delivery room- right, Doc?" my husband asked.

"It's not advisable." they said, "it will probably have an open spine and other abnormalities."

But my husband insisted. He told the doctor that he witnessed all his other kids being born and he was going to see this one, too.

Although I was in pain -and in a fog, I remember seeing my husbands face covered by a green surgical mask- his eyes swollen with tears as he bent down to kiss me before they asked me to push.

A few minutes later, our baby was born. I fell back against the pillow, exhausted.

"It's a boy," my husband cried- his eyes smiling at me from beside my bed, his voice shaking.

"Doc- I don't see anything wrong with him. He looks normal to me," I heard my husband say.

"Yes, he seems to be very healthy. And no apparent problems..." the doctor agreed.

It would be a few hours before I could hold my son. I drifted in and out while in the recovery room, my husband appearing now and then with a happy smile on his face.

The doctors said our son was fine. Absolutely normal. 
They admitted that they only took one view on the sonograms- which showed a small head. 
If they had taken another view, they would have seen that the head was simply "molded" -and otherwise normal in size.
They apologized.

Five doctors. Dozens of tests. All in agreement.

But all wrong.

Call it the answer to prayer. The power of positive belief. God's blessing.
Whatever happened that day- it will always be considered a miracle to me.

In eighteen days, my son Jake will graduate with a doctorate in dentistry.

Happy Birthday, son. I love you beyond imagining.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Time Out

I've done a little soul searching lately... Tried to spend some quiet time in reflection... Meditated on my life and future and plans and dreams... Opened myself up to critical self-examination...Stopped awhile to smell the roses...and I realize there's much to be done.

Maybe it's the beauty of beginnings...days that flirt and beckon for attention...air that smells sweet like youth- tart with memories- clear with with possibilities.

Maybe it's hormones... 

But I really feel as though I need to step back from the computer for a week or two. Let my writing go dormant... hoping it will flourish like that wild tangle of honeysuckle... telling myself that I'm digging a big hole the wrong direction...that perhaps I should open a new door...

...and fly...

Then again, maybe it's because I have so much to do... gardening...yard work... planting... painting... bookwork... dieting...organizing- that it makes blogging seem so selfish and juvenile...I feel like I've exposed my heart here and it's drying out a little.

So, I'm going to take a week or two hiatus. A mini vacation. A section of time to relish in the beauty of early listen to the birds...walk in the cool breeze...smell the greenness of new the stars as they line up across the heavens...
...find a little part of me that feels so lost.

Check back in a few weeks. Maybe by then I'll have revived my good mood and hopefulness. 
Sorry I won't be checking your blogs while away, either. But I will return, my friends.

Now- it's out to inhale this wonderful day and all the gifts it has for me.
See you soon.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Saving Snowflakes

(As a tribute for Mother's Day, this is a re-posting from my blog Ten in '10.)

A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan


Being a mother is never easy. Right from the start, it's a challenge. A nine month journey of morning vomit and aching bones and the private knowledge that you are officially bigger than Shamu. Your sexy walks becomes a waddle, your tiny belly become a blimp, and your attitude toward time is "Hurry, hurry, hurry."

Not until you have that baby- cradle that little human in your arms, do you finally say, "Slow down,Time.Please slow down..."

Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes, by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins, comrades and friends - but only one mother in the whole world. ~Kate Douglas Wiggin


Being a mother cannot be fully described. There is no set definition, because mothers are as different and unique as snowflakes.
I think the word mother is not a noun, but a verb. I mother my children. It's a process- an invisible blanket of incubation that never fades- a halo of love that is never broken. A daily piece of your heart that is divided and freely given.
Sometimes that piece of your heart returns to you full of pride and joy. Other times, it's a bit broken, fractured, or a tiny bit bruised. But you never stop giving it. You hope. You love. 

You mother.
“I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford. Then I want to move in with them.” Phyllis Diller

If they gave awards for mothering, my mom would surely have a giant one. Because everything I do in my adult life- my choices,my attitude and my convictions are all based on how she raised me. A mothers heart and hands never leave ones memory.
My mother's heart was as big as all the world, and although she had nine children- it was never too crowded or too busy or too tired to fit us in.
And her hands are wings now- still guiding me with an unseen gentleness that propels my life.
There is no blueprint, no instruction booklet, no expert that can tell you how to be a mom. It just happens. Just as simply and as quietly as stars appear in a darkened sky. 

And as miraculously.
A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts. ~Washington Irving


I like to think that I am a good mother, but it is the final outcome- the end result of my mothering that will matter in this world. If I have raised intelligent, independent, compassionate, and happy children, then I have succeeded on my part. Yet, ultimately their own choices will shape their lives.
Mothering well- is knowing that those choices will be based on what you have taught them, shown them, and been for them.
It is knowing you did your best even during the rough and dark times. That you didn't loose courage or determination or affection. That you kept right on walking through the storms because you knew the sun would shine again, brighter than ever.
“Every mother is like Moses. She does not enter the promised land. She prepares a world she will not see.” Pope Paul VI

I know that I won't always be here for my children. I realize that Time didn't really slow down like I asked it to. I see that my babies are adults- and memories are all I have of their Story of Growing Up. But they sure are good ones.

I cannot forget my mother. She was my bridge. When I needed to get across, she steadied herself long enough for me to run across safely. ~Renita Weems

I vow to be a better mother. To listen more closely. To criticize less, hug more, give a little breathing room. To adore and memorize my adult children from afar-as well as I did when they were clinging to my neck or sleeping in my lap.

Definition of children: The same as the definition of mother:
They are as different and unique as snowflakes. Handle them with care. They will too soon drift away.
Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Here's to you, Mom. For warm memories of home. Of kitchen tables and fresh coffee- of jelly donuts and pork chops in grease gravy- of gardens and tulips and bleeding hearts- of blue dresses and garters and fuzzy pink house slippers- of powdered donuts and soap operas and visits to the neighbors- of Christmases and fireworks and Croatian bread- but mostly, Mom, thank you for your mothering. Your endless love. Your lessons.

Funny... after all these years, I still keep saying the same thing over and over-
"Slow down,Time. 

Please slow down..."


The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cha-cha-cha Chicken!

Today is International Respect for Chickens Day - and I'll be the first one to admit that I am not a vegetarian, vegan. nor do I partake in any protests that boycott KFC. 

In fact, I rather enjoy the flavor of chicken skin- deep fried in a thick, crispy batter of seasoned flour. And the plump, white breast barbecued in a tasty mix of hickory-honey sauce. Mmmmmm...

But we are not here today to revel in the deliciousness of the chicken. We are here today to pay our tribute and respect for a terribly misunderstood farm animal.

Domestication of wild fowl began in Asia some 8,000 years ago. However, most experts think that chickens were not introduced to North America until some 5,000 years later.
It soon became a convenient source of food- one that could be used for both meat and eggs. 

The average hen lays nearly 265 table eggs a year. And it takes her 24-26 hours to lay a single egg. 
If fertilized by the male chicken (also known as the rooster, or cock), the eggs will hatch in 21 days. 
And in the United States alone, 80 million eggs are produced a year and over 9 billion chickens are raised for food.

And that's no yolk!
(Just had to throw that in there. I was getting painfully serious for a moment, wasn't I?)

I bet you didn't know that the egg laying process for a chicken begins in its eye. 

Chickens lay eggs only after receiving a light cue, either from natural sunlight entering a coop or artificial light illuminating a commercial egg hatchery. 
The light stimulates a photo-receptive gland near the chicken's eye, which in turn triggers the release of an egg cell from the chicken's ovary. 

I just wonder about the first human that decided to crack an egg and eat it. Especially witnessing its emergence from the birth canal into a bed of poopy straw. 
Did he say, "Wow! I think I'll eat that!" ? 
And later, did he drop a bit of raw egg on a hot rock by the fire and decide to taste its scrambled form? (It was probably the same fellow who decided to squeeze cow teats and enjoy a warm glass of milk.)

Last week, my husband and I were actually discussing the idea of raising chickens when he retires.

"Oh, won't that be cute! A little hen house with red window boxes and plump, white chickens laying on fresh nests...Dozens of eggs a week for breakfast, brunch and tuna salad!" I said excitedly.

"Yes- and they'll help eat table scraps and unwanted bugs - and we can butcher and freeze them, too," he said.

Of course, then came the reality of the whole giant chicken dream.
"  What about coyotes and foxes?"
"  Who will chicken-sit if we go on vacation?"
"  How many times during a snow storm will we have to check  their water and food supply?"
"  What if we become emotionally attached to them and can't force ourselves to eat them?"
"  What if the sky is really falling?"

"Forget it," I said, suddenly deciding that the price of eggs and fryers were not really that expensive. Considering.

I suppose the best way that chicken-eating-lovers like me can show their respect today, is by abstaining.  
Skip KFC and eat fish. 
Nix the chicken burrito and go for the beef. 
Choose tuna salad over chicken salad and ask for pancakes instead of eggs, sunny side up.
Give poultry a day of rest, celebration and respect!

 Now- let's shake our tail feathers, shall we?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


This is Us. We duck taped our overalls to keep the ticks out.

The rain drips
like silver beads
off the green metal roof.

We sit side by side
on the old cushions
of the porch swing,
gazing at the wet world
that explodes with new life.

You chug a beer.
I sip wine from a Mason jar.

Your hand touches mine.

calloused and tan-
freshly washed clean
of tractor oil and gasoline.

nicked from thorns
and pink from slicing strawberries-
fingernails still unpainted
since last summer.

I smile.
You grin.
And we stare through the damp screen
in silence.

I pick a tiny tick
off my ankle.

You cross your arms.

A wren rests on the branches of an oak tree
and thunder growls softly in the gray clouds.

We begin to swing in rhythm-
slowly rocking our feet-
leaning back against the flowered pillows
in weary surrender.

The chain creaks and groans
and we laugh.

"I love you," I say.

"I love you more," You reply.

You drink your beer.
I finish my wine.

The day fades as we watch
shadows fill the woods.

And suddenly 
I know for certain
this is all 
I will ever need.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Now I Know My ABC's

For the second year, I've just completed the A to Z Challenge- the brainchild of Arlee BirdTossing It Out. I don't think he even realized how popular and widespread this blog challenge would be. Congratulations, Arlee- to you and your associates for a successful job. It's been a fun learning experience.

First off, I want to offer my sincere thanks for all of you who visited, left comments, or simply lurked in the blogasphere checking things out. I was a lurker, too- trying my best to fit in blog visits to new people- between dusting, laundry, weekend trips, and day to day obligations. I apologize if I never got to your blog or failed to comment very often. Because I know there are some talented and creative folks out there who deserve to be heard. 
Keep writing- all of you. Your voice is important.

I didn't have a problem posting every day. (I usually do that anyway.) The real challenge was forcing myself to find a subject that matched the specific letter, and trying to write about it in a fresh and entertaining way. And even if I failed on that note- at least I got through the alphabet with more followers than I ever imagined!

However, from last year's experience, I realize that those followers die off slowly- and I understand completely. There are only so many blogs you can visit and comment on in a typical day. Plus the fact that over time, a reader may realize that certain blogs just aren't "for them". If  that's how you feel about my blog- then you're excused. Go dust that bookshelf or fold those towels- it's okay- really.

It amazes me how many great unknown bloggers that are out there! How can one voice be heard among so many? There really is no way to research this. It's all trial and error. I've found some of my favorite blogs on the sidebars of other bloggers. And I try to visit most on a weekly basis, if not more often.

From last year's challenge, I've kept sweet friends whose writing inspires and amazes me. And luckily, this year has been no exception. I'm following people who will now be part of my morning routine for as long as they keep sharing their written thoughts.

I loved the way that some challengers developed a theme (and I may try that next year). I'm constantly in awe of photos, drawings, quotes and personal experiences. And I always love to learn new things, discover writing tips, shed a few tears, and laugh out loud. Thank you to all of you talented writers who gave me the gift of all those wonderful things.

There are days when I was tired. Lazy, too. Days when I did not want to hear another letter of the alphabet ! ...or go to bed dreaming about what to write the next day. But the A to Z Challenge was a necessary push to help me grow. Not only as a writer, but as a person. One who isn't afraid to open their heart and let out both good and bad stuff.

I found that some of my more serious and intimate writes got the most comments, but one particular post  that I held dear to my heart had only four comments. It just goes to show how varied reader's interest can be.

I was also sorta hoping that writing religiously every single day and stressing myself out over subject matter would keep my hands busy so that I would lose weight. But, that backfired big time! There was nothing more comforting than a big bowl of cheesy chili and a Mounds bar to help the words flow more smoothly... Rats! 

So, now that A to Z is over, it's back to the Wii and Weight Watchers! Arghhh!

Some suggestions would be to list the blog challengers by genre. For example: I wouldn't be interested in a blog about recycling or biology, but I adore decorating blogs and down to earth experiences. This might help to alleviate some of the time involved in visiting other bloggers.

Also,I like the idea that this is done in April. It helps rid the cobwebs of winter- and is still early enough that it doesn't interfere with yard work and gardening.

I do want to say that I would keep blogging even if no one followed, although it is an extra bonus to be heard and enjoyed. I am hoping my writing will be cherished and loved by my children and my family- that my words will live on someday, even after I am gone. Hopefully they will be able to laugh and cry and see a part of me that only writing could express. I can't stop writing, though I have tried. 

It's like breathing. 
And what a breath of fresh air this A to Z Challenge has been! 

Thank you all for joining me.