Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Is It Summer Yet?

Memorial Day is the beginning of summer...sort of. The calendar doesn't say so. Most schools are still in session. The weather is fickle: warm, cool, rainy, hot, cold, mild. Do you want to know what the weather is like today? Go outside and look up. The air tells the temp. That sky holds clues: rainy, cloudy, sunny or a mixture of all.

Regardless, I say summer has begun. The lawn wants to be mowed, fields cut, porches need a good scrubbing, flowers and gardens beg to be planted -- and we are on it. I borrowed a friend's power washer last week to clean black mold encroaching on cement around the pool. Wow, it worked just like a magic eraser. So of course I had to buy myself one. Now there's no stopping me. The white fence, the outdoor furniture, the wooden deck and porch, under the eaves...there's almost nothing can't be cleaned up, whitened or brightened.

Between outdoor work and swimming I've wakened muscle gone flaccid over winter. The Power Washer is amazing, but it takes a bit of human power to keep it on task. I'll be seeing my favorite chiropractor tomorrow, surely he'll fix me up. But first I'm going to finish everything that takes elbow grease with arm, shoulder, back and neck assist. Perhaps that's presuming on the powers of my good chiropractic doctor. If so, I'll pay for it twice over and I'll repent, promising never to do that again. A promise I'll probably forget as soon as the pain goes away.

Memorial weekend fun -- The zoo with grandkids, playing outdoors on the swings, looking for arrow heads in a freshly planted field, a picnic at son #3's new house, time with family and friends. Delightful. So much to appreciate, so many to love, our cups runneth over. But, I'm sorry to report, the turkey hunters came home empty handed, rubber decoys aside.

Instructions: "Papa said to be careful not to step on the plants, Nana. Just walk between the rows like this and look for arrowheads."

A lovely back deck for eating out!
We picnicked on absolutely delicious grilled chicken burgers,
salads, and angel food cake topped with strawberries and freshly whipped cream.
 Iris left by previous owners welcomes the new owners.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Two days ago we had no particular plans for the Memorial Day weekend. Now we do. Aaron, Amy and the little boys are coming tomorrow for an overnight visit. Hooray for grandson time! Then on Sunday afternoon we're heading to West Sunbury to see Adam and Alicia's new home. Perhaps on Monday we'll meet up with David and Mel. Might could happen, we'll see. But the California connection will definitely be a miss. You can't make that happen without planning ahead -- what with airlines and all.

Yes indeed, I'm happy to have 3 of my 4 boys in the same state, all three within a 3 hour drive. So we can have these serendipitous visits. And the son from San Jose, being ridiculously far away, is faithful to call once a week, which I appreciate so much. Ah we love our kids, don't we?

On another serendipitous note, I was pleasantly surprised at the results of the Boy Scouts of America's vote to include gay kids in their organization. A positive and healthy step not only for the LGBT people of our country, especially gay kids, but for us straight folks too -- those of us who strive to love others as ourselves.

It was a bold move for my cousin to post this along with these words. "Thank you Boy Scouts of America! To me, this is the right decision for the betterment of our youth. I know that many of my friends may disagree with this decision, but to me, it is the right one."

A bold move for him. A brave move for me, because I, too, know that many of my friends disagree. I will no doubt be told the error of my ways, but if I'm going to err, I choose to err on the side of love.
 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 
John 13:34-35

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pools and Pets -- Sharing the Love

I love my pool. Nevermind it's a pain in the neck sometimes -- you know, taking care of it and all. I love my pets. Nevermind they're a pain in the neck sometimes -- taking care and tending and loving and all.

The pool is showing its age. We need a new liner, but who wants to give up swim time and a few thousand dollars to replace it. Soon though, very soon it must be done. The pets are showing their ages. Phoebe, the Brittany beagle mix, is getting white in the face. Cleo, the tiger striped cat has more than slowed down, and she's losing weight. She sleeps a lot and doesn't eat much...at all. The vet says she's healthy except for the not eating thing. No evidence of a tooth problem, but he put her on an antibiotic just in case and gave her a shot to stimulate her appetite. Result, she's nibbling soft food, but...not much...at all. The pool can be fixed. The animals, not so much...their lives are limited.

I'm steeling myself for that. "The great circle of life" is what the Disney movie calls it when mother dinosaur dies leaving Little Foot to fend for himself. I cried over that. I've cried over pets before... and I suppose I'll cry again.

Ah well, we try to be kind to the animals and they are kind to us. Life is good in many ways. Life here in the country is a blessing. Though my urban friends and relatives may disagree -- thinking it's a great place to visit, but maybe they wouldn't want to live here. I'm aware of the advantages of city life we miss out on. But really, if you're a four legged creature this is almost heaven. And even if you're a human, this is almost heaven. I count myself lucky indeed.

I especially like sharing the pool...
 I know... I should pay them
                                                                                          for letting me babysit.
It's more fun swimming with friends!
This is Bridget, she brightens my day once a week. She's three going on four and has a collection of adorable miss-spoken words. I told her mother not to look to me to correct them. I can't bear to let go the cuteness. She's wearing her swimming soup. She reminds me to put sun scream on her shoulders. When she wears a jacket I have to help her zwhip it. And she asks ever so nicely to play games on my 'your-Pad'. Don't you just love it?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day...

Good wishes for a lovely day to my mom, my daughter-in-law, my sisters and sisters-in-law, and my dear friends.
Me and my mom and dad in February.
So many friends are posting remembrances of their moms, followed by the heartbreaking words...I miss you, Mom.   I count myself blessed to still have both of my parents.They've enjoyed and endured eight decades and counting. Six of those blissfully married (for the most part), setting a good example for us, their seven children. They withstood watching our youngest brother, Rob, struggle for 2 years with a vicious cancer, which claimed him 2 weeks after his 36th birthday -- the day before Mother's Day 1999. Tough times. Every year.

Two of my four sons have passed that age. I can't imagine loosing any one of mine; can't imagine how a parent survives the loss of a child at any age. But people do, and my parents have more than survived. They remember and celebrate Rob's life, thankful for the years they had with him, proud of his accomplishments and even more proud of the strength and grace he displayed throughout his illness. In his last months, he cared for those who were caring for him, trying to make it easier for those who loved him, his parents, his family, and his fiancee, Sandy.

This is what I ruminate on the days leading up to Mother's Day...every year since 1999. But, following my mom's example, I allow my sadness to be tempered by all there is to be grateful for...the blessings that abound. Today I'm grateful for Mom and Dad, six wonderful siblings, one in heaven, a terrific loving, patient, kind husband, four amazing sons and the women and children they've brought into my life. Today, I'm feeling blessed by God above.

Happy Mother's Day to all moms out there!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Is There Life After BIRTH?

I love allegory. This certainly isn't original to me. I found it on a blog by Father Milovan Katanic posted in 2008. (Credits below)

Twins are having a conversation in the mother’s womb:

A: Do you believe in life after birth?

B: Of course, there must be something after birth.

A: That is nonsense. There is no life after birth. How would this life look like anyway?

B: I don’t know exactly, but I am convinced that there will be more light and that we will be able to walk and eat with our mouths…

A: That is complete nonsense. You know that it’s impossible to run and eat with your own mouth, that’s why we have the umbilical cord. I’m telling you, after birth there is no life.

B: The umbilical cord is too short. I’m convinced that there is something after birth. Something completely different from what we are living now.

A: But no one has ever returned from there. Life ends after birth. Besides, life is nothing else but existence in a tight and dark environment.

B: Well, I don’t know exactly how life after birth looks like, but we will, in any case, meet our Mommy. Then she will take care of us.

A: Mommy? You believe in Mommy? And where, according to you, would she be?

B: Everywhere around us, of course. Thanks to her, we are alive, without her, we would not exist at all.

A: I don’t believe it. I have never seen Mommy, so it is clear that she doesn’t exist.

B: Yes, it is possible, but sometimes, when we are perfectly still, we can hear her sing and caress our world. You know, I am convinced that life after birth, in fact, is only just the beginning.

Taken from the “Spring of St. Petka” newsletter from St. Petka Church in Troy, Michigan

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

First Swim

It wasn't me in the pool for the first swim of the season this year. A young neighbor brought a friend and they weren't put off by the cold pool. I don't swim until the water hits 80. But look at this...

It didn't deter these gals...
Today the heater kept chugging along and the water temp reached my magic number. I dibbled my toes, sucked in my breath, and took the plunge. Yes, I realize that's a bit dramatic, considering Kelsey and her friend immersed themselves in 73 degree water the day before. But still... 
I thoroughly enjoyed swimming laps. Ahhhh, let the swim season begin. Come back again, Kelsey, the water's fine...now. Anyone else wanting to cool off? Come on over.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Everybody's Busy

Long over due updates...

Yesterday we helped David and Melanie at their new house. They are in the process of moving in. Tom mowed lawn and trimmed shrubs. I helped scrub the kitchen and put things away. That Melanie is one trusting sweetheart, letting me unpack her kitchen boxes! Mel's mom cleaned out the garage -- hosed it down ceiling to floor! Grandma, sister, cousins and friends. What a productive day it turned out to be, and fun too.

I teased on facebook this week that Betsy's Day Care was open. I had three little girls, and one not-yet-trained puppy, keeping me company on Friday. It was all kinds of fun. But you know -- our house is stocked with mostly little boy toys from a bygone era. It turns out that girls who left their Barbies and Polly Pockets home are quite happy to play with Matchbox cars and a Fisher Price Little People Garage at my house.
Two sisters and my little neighbor who is my regular Friday charge. Aren't they just adorable?
The cute-as-can-be pup loves to run in the grass and then come in the house to tinkle on the floor.
It's okay, she doesn't hold much water and I'm sure she'll get the hang of it sooner or later.
People are busy. Teachers are winding down their school year. Farmers are readying fields for planting. Homeowners are mowing lawns and beautifying yards, porches, decks. When the weather is inclement there's the indoor spring cleaning to be tackled. We're opening the pool. It's all ready, just needs heated up. We've got to put a little heat to that sparkly-clear cold water. (Give us a day or two and then come on over.) My friends with little kids or grandkids are off to t-ball and little league practices and games. Ah yes, it's a busy time of year.
Flowers are busy growing, blooming, and dying back to allow the next variety to grow and bloom. It's so nice that they take turns. Is there anything prettier than spring flowers? A vase of daffodils graced my table every day for the past three weeks. They're not as long lived when cut, but there's a plethora of them. I'm sure the dear little things were glad to bring their bright countenance inside just to make me happy, even if it did shorten their lifespan a bit.

These flowers are all spent now. The Tulips still in bloom are on the way out. They'll make room for the Dahlias. Oh, but alongside the fence are the Narcissus. They look like Daffodils, but I'm guessing they get their name from a character trait. They bloom after their cousins...standing proud all by themselves...too narcissistic to share their bloom time with anything else that might overshadow them. No need to fear, little flowers, you are all beautiful, and very much appreciated, in your own time. 

Trees are budding and will be in full leaf quick as a wink. Birds flit about gathering bits of this and that building nests. And bees buzz around terrifying little children. (I'm not scared of bees anymore. I outgrew that back in my 50's -- last year.)
Everyone's busy. We're all in hurry. Gotta get ready quick. Summer will be upon us before we know it. Then we'll slow down, stop and smell the roses while swatting mosquitoes. We'll all enjoy this gift of life to the fullest then. Next season. Or so we promise.