Mine’s Blue

July 22, 2011

There is still time to get into the running for this fabulous ice cream maker. Mine’s blue but if you win, you can select a brand new one from a wide variety of colors: orange, red, plum, lime, black, white and, of course, blue like mine.

All you have to do to win is tell me what  your favorite ice cream flavor is. That’s it. Just post under “contests and giveaways” – You Scream – I Scream.

Then go ahead and subscribe because you’ll never know what you might miss. Gardening tips, mouth-watering recipes, great summer reading picks and quite possibly another contest or two! After posting, click on to home site (top left corner) and you’ll see the subscribe box.

Entries for the ice cream maker will be accepted until midnight July 31 and a winner will be picked at random (even you, Tammy Coker Smith, who is the number one post will have a chance). Invite your friends to join the contest and who knows, they might invite you over for some dessert. One comment per person please.

I’ll reveal the winner on August 1st.

I love my ice cream maker – I’m sure you’ll love it too!

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will you still need me, will you still feed me?

August 29, 2017

My husband recently applied for social security benefits – albeit a couple of years late. He is still working and has medical insurance so he didn’t think it was necessary but apparently the government, much like the draft in his days, needs you to sign up.

It was a very emotional moment for him as he looked back at his work history. Every year his salary was printed out and for each of those years he had a memory:

*When he first started working for his dad.

*When we got married and each year we had a child,

*When he bought out his older brothers and ran the company as a sole owner.

The lady at the social security office, bless her soul, was amazingly patient. I imagine each person who walks into her office relives those same memories.

Beatles2

I’m not quite old enough to sign up for social security. I will be spending my 64th birthday in London. Seven of my eight siblings will be there to help me celebrate as well as my best friend from childhood who probably knows me just as well as my brothers and sisters.

I never considered myself “old” but I began noticing things this year – my knees don’t work as well as they used to. I need to hold on to something when I get up, and my hair and skin is much drier (I mean, what is crepe skin anyway? well, now I know!).

My traveling companion, my friend from childhood who is just 6 months younger than me, recently had back surgery. It’s taking her longer than she thought to recover. We are going to be quite the sight as we head off to Ireland (her homeland), then Wales (my homeland), and finally London for my birthday celebration.

I’ve never worried about traveling (even though I don’t like to fly) but this time the idea of lugging suitcases and checking in and out of hotels sounds… well … like a lot of work!

But we are determined. We are not ready to be “old” and we’ve got a few more years before we apply for Medicare.

I’m not ready to look back on my life.

I’m still looking forward.

poor Coop

June 22, 2017

It’s been a couple of days now since I lost my shadow, my traveling companion, my best friend. She was black and beautiful and had just celebrated her birthday. But she was tired and in pain and it was time to say goodbye.

She was also Cooper’s sister.

Stella and Cooper are dogs. Labradors to be exact. They came into our lives 11 years ago. Stella, a beautiful black female and Cooper, a lovable chocolate male. Cooper quickly became my husband’s dog. They went on hunting trips together and just seem to have the same male macho thing going. Stella, who was gun shy, became my companion. We were actually pretty content when the boys went out of town. The only time Cooper and I bonded was during our afternoon naps.

He liked to cuddle.

But now it’s just me and Coop. I’m not sure if he knows exactly where Stella is but he spends a lot of time napping. Could be his age and he’s always been a laid back lab, but watching him over the past few days, I’m beginning to think it has a lot to do with me. I’ve noticed I’ve lost something. I am feeling a bit joyless.

I think he knows.

I’m lucky to have some good friends that know what I’m going through and have been so supportive. I’m surprised how much this loss has affected me (I’ve lost pets before but this one – wow). I think I need a week or so to mourn the loss of my friend.

I’m just hoping Cooper can wait it out because I have a feeling we’ll need each other.

cooper & stella

 

 

 

Christmas Past

December 24, 2016

I love Christmas Eve. Something about the excitement in the air. The kids on the street are happy and joyous and, in Southern California, the weather turns a nice kind of cold that we can actually lite up the fireplaces (although I’m sure my friends in the midwest think we are insane).

It’s a cool 45 degrees. This year my significant other (hubby of almost 40 years) is recouping from back surgery, so we’re taking it easy. Making Chinese food and watching the Godfather trilogy. While I do miss the kids coming over for crab legs and cole slaw, it’s nice that one of my sons picked up the tradition and is right now hosting more than 25 people at his house. Good thing he’s doing it this year because next year he’ll have a couple of 1 year olds running around and this tradition just may be coming back to grandma’s house.

Got another son who will be cooking up some Aebleskivers tomorrow morning (that’s Danish pancakes for those who don’t know). Another tradition handed down.

And so it goes. My mom passed 10 years ago on Christmas Eve. She had a good life and we always said it was a good day to die for a nice Catholic lady. Celebrating the birth of Jesus in Heaven. Not bad.

But it did get me to thinking about a Christmas years ago. My mom was mad at my dad. Don’t know why but she decided not to do Christmas that year. Mind you, there were about six of us then (the other 3 came later). My dad, ever the romantic and holder of all things family, made a run to the gas station to buy us gifts (remember, this was about 100 years ago and not many stores stayed open on Christmas Eve). That year we got car fresheners, key chains, maybe a metal toy truck or car and candy. I pretty sure we didn’t care. For us, it was magical.

My mom must have come around because I really don’t remember it badly. Of course, I may be the only one of my siblings who remember it at all.

Which brings me to 2016. All things change, including Christmas. All those years of crab leg Christmas Eves, 25 to 30 people for Christmas dinner, toys, bikes, skateboards, quads, Playstations were fun but exhausting. Last year, Christmas set me on my heels (like Christmases before) when we lost someone close to us. It seems like a bad time of year for death, but then again, when is a good time to be sad.

The excitement is still in the air. The kids across the street are playing with their race cars and drones, my husband is sitting in front of the fireplace with the two old labs and I’m thinking about Christmas past.

While I’m not a big fan of Christmas (I like Thanksgiving so much more), I’m happy to see people happy. It was a tough year. I’m hoping people in general will stop worrying about the end of the world (ala Trump victory) and focus in on really how good we have it. Because it may just be an air freshener from a gas station, but there is something magical about Christmas and we should enjoy every minute we spend with our family and friends.

Merry Christmas and peace to all.

IMG_2269

 

 

 

what now?

April 2, 2016

Just spent a weekend with my BFFs from my grade school days. It takes a couple of months but by April 1st we are all the same age again. We’re calling it “Club 62.”

We spend these days and evenings together talking about our childhoods, our marriages, our kids and our work, but more often that not, the conversation always turns to regrets or new challenges or (and this is a big one) should we get plastic surgery or just learn to live with our ever sagging faces.

One of us has no problem with seeing a doctor and getting a shot here and there but the others have a serious problem with either having strange fluids under their skin or liking it too much and getting addicted.

So we move on to other serious problems – what do we do now? Lucky for us we believe we have options.

We are taking on a new motto for Club 62 – RESURGENCE. My sister explains it as kind of a new post-puberty stage. Having gone through menopause and watching our children become the adults we always hoped they would be, it’s our belief the time has come for some childlike activities again such as staying up all night and playing games or laying on the beach and soaking up some rays.

What is nice about this resurgence is we really don’t care that our stomaches are not as flat as they used to be (well, we do but we try not to discuss it too much), or that we don’t or can’t wear the latest fashion trends but, more importantly, we realize that spending time with people who make you laugh, make you grow, add to your life in a positive way are the kind of people you want in your life.

The others ~ well we’ll just have to their resurgence.

ladies-on-a-lake

 

CALM… for now

December 24, 2015

IMG_2269It’s Christmas Eve morning. I’ve got Christmas songs dancing through my head, the fireplace is lit and the dogs (and husband) are all still asleep.

I just love the calm of the morning.

There is a lot on our plates right now. We’ve got grandkids who are so looking forward to tomorrow and I can’t wait to see their faces when we visit. We’ve got older children who are looking forward to tonight as we dig into crab legs and Heinekens. It’s all so lovely.

But deep inside of me I have pain. It’s been 9 years ago today when my mom died. Even though she was ready and I was okay with it all, I miss her. Especially today.

My pain today is for my friend who has been battling melanoma for the past 4 years. A brave battle – one that he faced head on and tried everything the doctors threw his way. I can’t even count the many clinical trials he was a part of. And while it didn’t work for him, I can only hope it’s given the medical field some sort of direction to help the next generation of cancer patients.

And now there is nothing else they can do for him.

He is home, surrounded by his family. I’ve already said my goodbyes and told him how much I love him and how much he meant to me.

People say at least you were able to tell him all those things but you know what?

It sucks to say goodbye.

It seems the older I get, the more I am aware of the loss of loved ones during the holiday season and it will always be a mixture of sadness and joy.

So I’m enjoying the calm this morning but the chaos will soon be upon me and for now I’m choosing peace (and Christmas songs).

Merry Christmas Eve to all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

decades in a word

September 8, 2015

My husband turned 65 last month. Was he happy? I don’t think so. Everyone keeps asking him when he is going to retire. Or they ask him if he signed up for Medicare yet. He’s got one foot in his youth and one foot in old age.

The Fourth Quarter, we like to call it. We will be happy if we make it to 83 – happy, healthy and still driving.

I’m just beginning my 60th decade. So far, it’s not so bad. The best part is having time and the worse part is …. having time. My husband likes to go, go, go and I have grandchildren to play with. One of the best gifts though has been my girlfriends – ones I’ve had for awhile and even more importantly, ones I’ve recently connected up with again.

I’ve thought a lot about what we’ve been through over the years. I can’t help my husband with decisions he needs to make about work and not working but I think I have a keen understanding about what we women go through.

ladies-on-a-lake

Decades. It’s almost easy to define our decades with one word. This is in the general sense, of course. You may be one decade ahead of me or one behind, but I think you’ll get an understanding of all the little (and not so little) events that impact our lives.

The beginning (birth through 10) – Wonder.

I wonder what school will be like, what I will get for Christmas. Having a good friend that lives next door. Baby brothers and sisters. Hula Hoops, roller skates, tetherball, bicycles. All fun and wonder.

Teens – Adventure.

Make-up and boys. Starting your period. Getting boobs. Learning how to kiss and slow dance. Heartbreak. Junior High. High School. College? Where will I go? Who am I going to be? The world is wide open. If only I could just see it.

Twenties – Settle.

Careers. Marriage. Kids. Mortgage. A lot of ugly bridesmaids dresses.

Thirties – Time.

Meaning no time. We are either in the midst of raising a bunch of kids or deep in our career or both. We are trying to keep the clock pushed back but we really don’t have any time to exercise or eat well. It’s soccer practice, homework, keeping your boss happy while juggling your home life, finding alone moments with your partner and making sure your checkbook balances.

Maybe a better word would be chaos.

Forties – Change.

My mom always told me my 40s would be great. I think she was right. It’s when women really come into their own. Kids are growing up and don’t need you as much. If you are working, your career is pretty much a no-brainer and you have some tenure. If you’ve been staying home with kids, it’s great to go back to work.

How’s the marriage? Usually this is a very tenuous time for a husband and wife. Time for a change and some opt for divorce (a long overdue one at that). Others teeter and find a way to make the change work. Whatever the situation, your relationship with your husband/partner will change.

Fifties – Hot flash (I know. It’s two words).

You suddenly look in the mirror and see your mom. When the hell did this happen? It’s not fun but trust me, soon you’ll embrace it. You will find you now that you have gotten some time back and wonderful friends who are willing and ready to go on great adventures with you. You have your health, you have some spending money and you have a need to connect with people and the world around you. You may not look as good as you did in your 20s, but the hell with that. This is your decade to enjoy life.

Sixties – Content.

You’ve accepted your body image, but not all the way so you work at it (a little). You have health issues. Money can be tight. You may have lost a friend or two. Parents are gone by now. Kids have their own lives. You do wonder what you should do now. Can you still contribute to society?  Do you want to contribute?

There is one thing you do know – you are not ready to roll over and die. But do you really want to take that little plane over to the Big Island?

Why the heck not?

I’m curious about my 70s/80s.

Will I make it that long? If I do, will I be healthy enough to enjoy it and young enough to embrace it?

I guess the best way to approach this whole age thing is to just not over think it because it’s really not up to us.

My advice (handed down by my mother, I’m sure) – Make the best of your time. Keep your loved ones close, your friends even closer and understand that shit happens.

When you look back at each decade know that you did the best you could and a damn good job at that.

Shaping the art and soul of my community

April 3, 2015

Shaping the art and soul of my community.

ear worms – the gift that keeps on giving

March 24, 2015

“Once there was this little old ant. tried to move a rubber tree plant. everyone knows that ant – can’t – move a rubber tree plant. But he has High Hopes”

Yup. Keep that running through your head as soon as you get up in the morning and back again when you are trying to go to sleep. Instant insanity.

If this happens to you, don’t just assume you are going insane, there is actually a name for it – Ear Worms. And apparently, even though millions have this problem, there is no cure. (Although I did read one site that said if you sing “The Girl from Ipanema” it should get rid of your ear worm. It doesn’t. It becomes a super ear worm.)

red-wiggler-worm

They say you may get ear worms if you are stressed or your mind is not working to its full potential. Could be my case. But I also read if your ear worm song reminds you of a good moment, you just have to play it in your head all the way through.

By the way – I’ve been singing High Hopes to my 6-year-old grandson for years. Just recently we learned the words to the second verse – you know, the part about the ram and the dam. We nailed it!

Could be the reason I have this ear worm.

a life well lived

February 8, 2015

Last week I wrote about knowing the future. I used a photo of my friend’s parents. Her mom (Eve) has been battling Alzheimer Disease for many years and had her husband (Jim) as her main caregiver. Jim, a lawyer and a judge by profession and a pilot by choice, took good care of her. Now well into his 80s, Jim started feeling the effects of time and by Christmas was having problems himself. By January, Jim was in the hospital fighting pneumonia.

Although Jim had predicted he would live to 102, he was tired and ready to go home.

And he wanted to be with his wife.

Jim was taken home on Friday night, had a chance to visit with his wife on Saturday and by Sunday morning he was gone. His daughter made sure his last wishes were fulfilled.

Although I’ve known the family since grammar school, it was a relationship that was lost over the years. I re-connected with the family two years ago. It was fantastic to catch up and an honor be there during these hard times to support my friend.

Jim and Eve had triumphs and tragedies throughout their life (lost a 2-year-old son to a drunk driver) but they always rallied. Their love for each other and their Catholic faith kept them together.

I can only say it sounds like a life well lived. Rest in peace Jim. I’m sure you’ll be looking forward to re-connecting with your beautiful wife.

jim:eva

 

 

 

 

“If someone told us our future, we’d never get out of bed” (August Osage County)

January 27, 2015

I was watching a movie and this was a quote from the main character when she was going to the morgue to identify the body of her dad. I was thinking about that line and I wondered if it were true to me.

If I knew my future as early as 5 years old, this is what I would have been told up to the age of 60:

I would be one of nine children to parents who never really made a lot of money. Kind of hand to mouth. Not that I didn’t know about our dire financial situation but I never tried to let that fact bother me (too much). I would go to parochial school and be in awe of the nuns and of those who truly believed in the teachings of the church. That would stay with me for a long time.

In high school, I would do well – As and Bs – and actually like school. I would go out for cheerleading on a dare, not make the squad but realize I liked student government better. No one told me to go to college – my parents, my teachers or my counselors. In fact, I was told to take shorthand and typing so I’d always have a job.

So at 18 I move out, live at the beach and get a job but I would also enroll in junior college because…. well, I like school. My job will give me the money to buy an old Volkswagen, teach me how to type 103 WPM and live hand to mouth. I would end up attending three community colleges and never get my degree.

But I’d meet a guy. He would marry me, give me four sons and show me the world. I would also, eventually, get that girl I always wanted in the form of a granddaughter.

During these 60 years, I would have great friends, some that would come in and out of my life, but ones I could always count on. Unfortunately, some of those friends would leave my life and earth a little too early.

I would be in relatively good health, but I’d lose my dad in my 20s and watch my mom be this strong and independent woman who would die in her 80s.

Family would always be close by as siblings live on the same street and sons would marry and stay near to the home place.

So after 60 …. who knows? Do I really want to know?

I have a friend whose mom has had Alzheimer disease for some time now. Her dad (in his late 80s) has been her main caregiver but now he has taken a turn for the worse. As he sits in the hospital trying to overcome a variety of illnesses, she pulls out her iPad and lets him FaceTime his wife of more than 60 years. The wife has no idea where he is, but she’s happy to see him.

It’s a heartbreaking photo, but they both have smiles.

jim:eva

 

I like to think of our lives as quarters in a football game (must be all the boys in my life). As we enter into the fourth quarter, will we be separated from our loved ones? Will we be scared of what our next journey will bring us? Will we think we’ve made a difference and served our purpose? Do we have regrets?

I just don’t know what the future will hold and I think I really don’t want to know. Life’s a journey and our heart beats just a little bit harder as we navigate the twists and turns.

I think the photo above represents a life well lived. And really, isn’t that all we all really want?

 


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