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!

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?

 

another circle of life moment

December 15, 2014

It seems like just last year I gave up the traditional Christmas dinner. The boys were growing up, some married, some with kids of their own. Understanding the need for my daughter-in-laws to be with their families on Christmas, I was happy to host a crabby leg Christmas Eve dinner with the family, exchanging gifts and a few laughs and letting them go on their own for Christmas.

We were invited to dinner, of course, which is rather nice, but what was really nice was waking up Christmas morning, enjoying a cup of coffee with my husband, exchanging gifts and marveling at how lucky we were to have family so close by – not only our kids but my brothers and sister and his brothers.

But this year I am giving up Christmas Eve and crab legs. The kids are pretty busy now on the night before Christmas. They’ve got Barbie dollhouses and Ewok villages to put together. They really need to have time to prepare their living room for that magical Christmas morning moment with their children. I know I loved it and I’m sure they are too.

When I announced to the family I would not be cooking on Christmas Eve they were a little shocked but as the week goes by it’s nice to see how well they are coming into their own, making plans and finding time for dear old mom and dad.

It will be strange – I’ve done this for so many years, but it’s a circle of life thing and it’s wonderful to see how traditions carry on.

Merry Christmas to all.

A Face to the Ice Bucket Challenge

August 20, 2014

Mention ALS today and you think “Ice Bucket Challenge.”

Ice cubes in a glass

Ice cubes in a glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That wasn’t the case 25 years ago when the disease first entered my world.

 

In 1988, my father-in-law, Carl Rasmussen, was retired and living on a small ranch in Sand Canyon. Born and raised on a farm in Fort Collins, Colorado, he had come full circle after years in th

 

e construction business and was now enjoying life, raising Appaloosa horses, enjoying his many grandchildren and dating a nice lady. He was 68 years old.

 

That summer of ’88, Carl noticed he was having difficulty holding on to the reins of the horses he exercised each morning. Thinking it was arthritis, he would take pain meds and knead his hands to help ease the suffering. But the pain got worse and he eventually went to the doctor who performed a series of tests.

 

After ruling out several possibilities, the doctors informed Carl that he was in the early stages of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The prognosis was not good. The cause of ALS was unknown, the doctor explained, but it was painless, non-contagious and cruel. The motor function of the central nervous system is destroyed but the mind remains fully aware to the end – or like my husband likes to say “A front row seat to your own demise.”

 

All we, the family, really knew about ALS was about Lou Gehrig who at 38 years old was forced to retire from baseball because he couldn’t run anymore. But that was 1941.

 

Our journey into ALS became one of seeking information. As Carl progressed through the symptoms – not being able to walk or talk, eat or swallow, we kept asking questions and seeking relief for this man who was so kind and gentle and needed our help.

 

My husband Charlie, sister-in-law Susan and my nephew Tony, deserve a lot of credit during this period. They were there by Carl’s side as he slowly declined. Whether reading stories to him from his favorite author, Louis L’Amour, or massaging his hands and legs so they wouldn’t atrophy, Charlie, Susan and Tony never left his side.

 

Carl died in May 1989, just 8 months after receiving his initial diagnosis. As sad as it was to say goodbye, I was happy he didn’t suffer long. But I have some great memories of that period also. One in particular involved Game 1 of the World Series with the Dodgers playing the Oakland Athletics. Yup, we were there that night when the sick and injured Kirk Gibson stepped up to the plate at the bottom of the ninth as the Dodgers were trailing 4-3.

 

It is well known that many Dodger fans leave around the 7th inning. We were still there because it wasn’t easy for Carl to get around. When Gibson hit that home run, we watched the folks in the parking lot heading back into the stadium to see why we were all screaming. The Dodgers ending up winning that game and a World Series title and oh, how I loved to see the twinkle in Carl’s eye that night.

 

Through the years following Carl’s death, my husband’s family has spent a lot of time and money working with the ALS Association as they try to find a cure. It is a strange, horrible and unknown disease.

 

Ice Bucket Challenges have been around for years and usually it is to raise money for one charity or another. According to Wikipedia, social media put the face of ALS on the ice bucket when the Golf Channel Morning show televised and performed a live on-air challenge in June. Golfer Chris Kennedy challenged his cousin, whose husband had ALS. The cousin, Jeanette Senerchia of Pelham, NY, put her video on Facebook and the connection and challenges began.

 

I do worry that the seriousness of the disease is being overshadowed by the silliness of the bucket challenge but I’m happy to hear the ALS Association has received millions for research because of this Ice Bucket Challenge.

 

If ALS is to have a face, we now have millions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did the Catholic Church steal my brother?

July 11, 2014

I have a tradition I share with my three sisters. Every Mother’s Day we get together for a long weekend to catch up, share stories, laugh, cry, explore, and take a moment to stop in a bar. We order a Stinger Blended Up in honor of our mom who passed away in 2006. It was her favorite cocktail and not one that every bartender knows about so it’s always fun to see how they turn out.

Our last Sisters/Mother’s Day weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, we sat down to watch the movie “Philomena.”  We were stunned.

If you’ve never seen this movie, here’s a synopsis: A true story about a young Irish woman who gives birth in a Catholic home for unwed mothers. When her little boy was two years old, the nuns adopted him out – without permission or knowledge by the mother. Philomena didn’t speak about her son with anyone until years later when her daughter asked her about it. Apparently Philomena secretly celebrated her son’s birthday every year and her daughter happen to catch her at a tender moment. And so the search for the son begins.

I am from a big Irish Catholic family – five brothers and three sisters. We like to say there are  9 of us – just like the Kennedy’s without all the money. But that’s not entirely true. We do have another brother we believe is somewhere out there. Although we’ve never met him, we are deeply suspicious he was stolen from the hospital right after his birth.

Here’s our story:

My parents met and married while living outside of Chicago in the early 40s. In 1946 they had their first child – a girl – my sister Barbara Ann. Shortly after that, my parents moved west, eventually settling in the Los Angeles area. In 1950, when my mom was pregnant with her second child, her father dies suddenly at the age of 50. It devastated my mom. Two months later, she goes into labor. Full term and with no insurance, my mom is given a drug to “put her out”  (common practice for birth back then) and when she finally wakes, the hospital staff tells her the baby was dead. Stillborn.

According to the stories from my mom, it was at this point my grandmother, Cecelia Agnes McCann, walks in and demands to see the body. The hospital staff tells her it’s too late – he’s already been cremated. No body. No baptism. No burial.

birth1950

Here’s the kicker: Cremation was a mortal sin in 1950. That’s the big one. No Heaven. No Purgatory. No second chance. Just straight to Hell.

Fast forward many years. My mom and dad go on to have eight more children. Some time in the early 90s my five brothers go on a popular game show called “Family Feud.” They were on every night for five days straight – the Rogers Brothers: Bill, Russ, John, Pat and Mike. They had fun and made some money. That’s them below:

familyfeud

Several months (maybe a year, I’m not sure) my mom receives a letter from the studio that produced Family Feud. They forwarded a note from a lady, I believe from the Chicago area, who said her husband looks just like the Rogers brothers and since he was adopted, he always wondered where he came from.

I’m not sure what happened to that letter. There must have not been a phone number and there was no internet back then. My mom might have called information but even that I can’t be sure of.

Here’s the thing about my mom – She never lived in the past or worried about the future. She lived in the present. She didn’t question authority – the church, doctors, or priests. Some things, though, she must have kept deep down inside of her because every once in a while something would pop  to the surface – like her comment about believing one day she would  be walking down a street and pass a young man and know, just know, that was her son she lost on that September day in 1950.

So why am I writing about all this now? Philomena for one. Another is my brother’s birth certificate  that I recently came across while looking through a file. My older sister had sent away for it back in 1999 and gave it to my mom to follow-up. I guess she never did. But she did put it in a file.

My brothers and sisters believe there are actually 10 of us. Did the Catholic Church steal my brother? Who would have ever guessed they would take a child from a young mother and just give him away? Apparently they did. Just ask Philomena.

So our search continues. I’m not sure what we will find but I’m putting it out there.

And here’s the last kicker: My mother was one of 10 children herself. When she was in her 70s, a cousin of mine had been researching the family tree and came across someone whose father never knew his real dad but he had the same last name as my mom (they were the Partridge family believe it or not). Anyway, through many phone calls and internet searches we come to discover my grandfather was married before he married my grandmother. He had a son named Earl. He left that family and hooked up with my grandmother never to mention the first family EVER.

Turns out old Earl, raised as an only child, at 80 years of age found out he had 10 half brothers and sisters.

 

 

 

 

guilt trip

May 30, 2014
M24: GUILT

guilt – it’s really not about the donuts

A friend once told me that Jews and Catholics make the best comedians because they have the market cornered on guilt. Being raised Catholic, I have to agree. My mom was a pro and from what she told me, her mom was pretty good at it too.

 

My boys also know when the Catholic guilt trip is coming. They know they can’t win.

 

But guilt isn’t limited to one or two religious organizations. We all feel our fair share  of guilt whether it’s the inability to say no to a favor or the heavy feeling you drag around with you when you do. It’s draining. It’s hangs over you during the day and invades your sleep at night.

 

Just last night I woke up in a cold sweat, my heart pounding. I remember the dream and boy was it real. I’m sitting in a meeting. The speaker is someone I know and she’s having a hard time presenting her case. She suddenly asks the audience if anyone has Xanax to help her calm down. I do, I say ,as I dig frantically in my bag (Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I be carrying around an arsenal of pharmaceuticals in my purse?). But I can’t find it. I feel bad for her. I volunteer to run home and get her some ASAP.

 

My friend sitting next to me wants to come along and bring her 7-year-old. He wants ice cream. Can’t I stop on my way home to buy him some? Of course I can. And while were in the store, would I mind if she picked up some groceries? Why not?

 

Along the way we run into several people we know who want to talk. All I can think about is getting home to get the drugs. Finally I make it to my house and up pulls a van with some former neighbors who are so glad to see me. When I explain I’m just running in to get something out of the house for a friend, they are aghast. What? I don’t have time to talk to them?

 

At this point, I sit up straight in bed. My heart is pounding. I’m still thinking about the friend who needed me at the meeting. She must be wondering where the heck I am.

 

Now I’m wide awake and really do need that Xanax.

 

By 6 a.m. I drinking my first cup of coffee of the day.

 

Guilt. It will rob you of your sleep. It will pop into your head during the day. It is not a good feeling.

 

So how does one get rid of guilt? I’m not sure. Guilt does have a way of making you do the right thing. For example, if you RSVP yes for a party, you’d better go. Those people are counting on you for conversation and the price of a meal. If you volunteer for a job, you are expected to follow through or someone else will have to pick up your slack. And if you promise to help someone out, they need you.

 

There are some guidelines however. Learn how to say no. Realize your shortcomings with time and money. And be honest about it. It’s hard and it may hurt, but you don’t have to do everything. Heck, I’m feeling guilty just taking up my whole morning writing this because I’m sure there is something more useful I could be doing.

 

But if all else fails, become a comedian. You might just find there is a whole audience out there who feels the same way you do when it comes to guilt. Sometimes we just have to live with it.

 

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airport 14

May 22, 2014
Cover of "Airport (Full Screen Edition)"

Cover of Airport (Full Screen Edition)

My husband loves to travel.

Me. Not so much.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy visiting other places but most of the ones I want to see involve air travel and I’ve gotten to despise the whole airport/airplane scene.

It’s not the fear of flying, the ticket prices, the long flights, the lay-overs, the bad food, or the TSA, which everyone knows are a given – it’s more the people involved in air travel. And I’m talking everyone from the airline/airport employees to my fellow travelers.

It does vary from airport to airport but bottom line, it’s a mind-boggling, time-wasting, downright rude experience.

Having just finished two back-to-back, five-hour one way trips in a one month period, I’m swearing off travel of any kind for a while.

I really, really try to be patient and kind. I’ll help a single mom trying to push a stroller and roll a big piece of luggage. I’ll wait in long car rental lines without going ballistic. I’ll even excuse the snarly flight attendants who are anxious to complete their duties so they can sit in the back and read.

What sets me off, however, are my rude fellow passengers. You know who they are. The guy that has to be the first on and off the plane. The business traveler who never checks his luggage so he can race you to a taxi or parking lot. The gal who is texting or talking on her cell while rolling her luggage and not even aware of her surroundings. The teenagers lounging on the floor of the waiting area, eating hamburgers and not bothering to clean up their mess. And, oh my God, the guy to takes off his shoes and somehow manages to plop his bare feet on the fold down eating tray. UGH!

I am amazed though when I witness the patient car rental manager calming a client who feels he shouldn’t have to wait in line with the rest of us. The older lady who lets a pregnant woman use the bathroom before her. The gentleman who helps a couple with limited English skills find the correct security line. Or the TSA guy who sincerely welcomes you home with a big smile.

I admire them. I envy them. I try my best to be them.

My sister once told me that soon airline travel will be worse than Greyhound bus travel and they only way to beat that is to own your own plane. I am afraid that time has come.

Until we can all travel like Captain Kirk and beam ourselves to our next vacation or business spot, can we all manage to try to get along? I promise to be kind and patient. Can you?

 

 

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side kicks

March 30, 2014

 

My friend Britt is retiring today. He’s also turning 65. The other day he turned in his truck, his keys and his cell phone. He’s been training the “younger” guys, so he feels confident he is leaving his workplace in pretty good hands.

What a strange thing this retirement is. I’m sure there is a sense of loss identity. There is probably a great unknown of what to do now. It’s not like Britt doesn’t have a lot on his plate. He likes to surf as often as he can. He and his wife go camping – usually to places he can surf. And he also has two beautiful daughters he takes care of in a way only a father can.

But how strange is it that he and we are all at this point in our lives? Where did those years go?

Britt is actually my husband’s friend. They’ve known each other since high school. He was just one of a group of guys who I took on when I married Charlie. Britt danced with me at my wedding and just recently he danced with me at my 60th birthday party. I know that we must have shared many other dances in-between those years.

Britt has been coming in and out of my life for 40 years now.  I got to know him much better once our children were grown, but until then he was that guy who was interesting and quiet and cute. I watched his eyes light up at the birth of each of daughters. He went to dance recitals and soccer games (or some other girly activity). Since I had boys, our paths didn’t cross as often but Britt was always there for Charlie. And for that reason alone, he is my best friend too.

We’ve had some great adventures together – boating, camping, eating, drinking, hanging out with all of our dogs, concerts, lakes, beaches. Soo many good times to cherish.

But with those good times, there were some bad ones too. Ones we share right along with him. Britt was diagnosed with melanoma a couple of years ago– a killer of a cancer. All of us had our throat drop to our stomach with that information. I know there were many sleepless nights in his house. After a couple of surgeries, he was enrolled in a clinical trial for a new drug. It wasn’t easy – the drive, the after affects, the waiting. Today, hallelujah! he is cancer free but it’s a disease that just always sticks in the back of your brain.

boat

boat (Photo credit: pupski)

I guess retirement is in all of our futures. Our dad’s did it and now our friends are all doing it. Retirement isn’t what it used to be though. We don’t get a gold watch and retire to a condo in a 55 and older community. Britt will stay busy – whether it’s surfing, camping, looking after his daughters or just being a sidekick for Charlie, because there is one thing about Britt you can’t deny -that guy is ready for anything, and retirement (and turning 65) is just one of those things.

I love you Britt. Happy Birthday and Happy Retirement.

Now let’s go boating!

 

 

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