Sunday, July 29, 2007

In a 'Fair' mood....

Ironic that I live in a tropical climate where orange groves and lemon trees grow, producing bumper crops. And it is the lemon shake-ups, that the Shawnee Moms and Dads Club make at Ohio's Allen County Fair that I crave.

Of course orange and lemon season has long passed, so I did the next best thing and bought a sack of lemons at Sams Club and today I tried to recreate the tasty treat. It turned out better than I expected. As I sip my cold sweet-sour lemon drink with crunchy ice and wonderful fragrance, I think of the fairgrounds.

It is the place to go every August; most families prepare for the event all year. Kids work on 4-H projects. Parents prepare Cooperative Extension sewing and canning and baking entries. People displays all kinds of entries from produce, flowers, photography, quilts, needlecrafts and wood crafts, and sometimes the bizarre and weird of the agrarian world.

Cars and tractors are on display beside septic tanks and animal feeders. Tater Binkley supplies the port-a-potties -- well, he did at one time. I've heard rumors that he's out of the business. Demolition Derbies, harness racing, greased pig contests -- all took place in the grandstands....

We walked around the fairgrounds and saw everyone we knew. We'd talk and walk together, eat at the food tents (the barbecued chicken at the Shawnee Lion's was a must every year). Ahhh the air was rich with aromas -- mouth watering, unless you were at the manure end of the animal barns.

I received my first boy-girl kiss at the Allen County Fair and eventually married the son of the fair's superintendent of rabbits. There's a memorial in front of the rabbit barn to Derrol's dad -- Jack. He was killed by a drunk driver, that was a tough year. He's missed, especially come fair time.

I haven't been to the fair for several years -- not since we relocated away following Derrol's job. Many of the familiar faces are gone from the fair board. But traditions continue. Jay Begg has taken over as fair manager and seems to have kept much the same, yet I noticed a few changes.

In MY day, those Rock 'n Roll performers were never invited, no matter how cheap their fee or big the draw. Yet I see this year Buckcherry will be performing.... Its kind of scary to think that the groan and grind of heavy metal music has become mainstream at the Allen County Fair.

The Midway draws the teenagers and townies, the animal barns and displays attract the farm folk, and they all spend their precious dollars on fair food.

Along with the lemonade I crave the elephant ears, the homemade pies brought by Farm Bureau members for their food tent, the rib eye sandwiches, the corn dogs, candy apples, and the cinnamon rolls so big they require two hands to carry them.

But more than the food and drink, animals and prizes, I miss the people. I worked for the fair board every summer for several years. I miss working in the fair office during fair week and answering the same question hundreds of times. Giving directions to the same locations -- hundreds of times. I miss Louette and Camille, Carol and the board members, the presidents and members of the various organizations, the volunteers, the horse people....

It was in the fair office that I first met Alan Jackson -- before many people knew who he was. I met Billy Ray Cyrus and it was at our fair that he fell in love with a cute little filly -- or maybe it was a gelding -- that he bought and had shipped back to his home. I met Reba, Clint Black, and Alabama. I was just a small town girl, wide eyed and amazed.

Don Klingler, the fair manager, hired me to write the fairbook for several years and gave me an opportunity to spread my wings as a writer.

Whether I visit the fair physically or not, I am there in spirit with them for that week in August: 17-25th.

Recipe for Lemon Shake-Ups
I found this at

1/2 lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup crushed ice
Thoroughly juice the lemon half and cut into quarters. Put both fruit and juice into a 16-oz. disposable glass. Add the sugar, water, and crushed ice. Stir drink by pouring back and forth between two glasses several times. Add very cold water to fill glass, then enjoy.

NOTE: If you have a glass with a lid or can cover tightly, a good shake, shake, shake also works.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Aging can be beautiful

I can't remember if I've introduced you to my mother. I know she slips into just about everything I write. She's the number one influence in my life -- even more than editors, teachers, and preachers. As my mother goes, so go I.

She taught me the important lessons from ironing hankies and pillow slips, to canning tomato juice. She also taught me the truly important lessons of courtesy, thoughtfulness, service, caring and love. She's much better at all of these than I am. Probably the biggest failure in my education (my fault, not hers) were pie baking and keeping my mouth shut.

I know it isn't courteous to tell a woman's age, but Mom won't mind. She turned 95 in March. Born a month before the Titanic sank, she's seen alot of history and survived it all. Now she lives not far from the community in which she spent the first 90 years of her life surrounded by people who are offsprings of her peers and neighbors.

I never thought I would say good things about nursing homes -- the last place any of us want to be confined. Yet, the love and care and effort made to keep Mom well and help her have a delightful day, each and every day, earns my respect and affection. Those of you at Richland Manor -- you are the greatest. Thanks Pam, Terry, Frances, Ericka, and all of the others who spend their working hours making Mom's life happy and comfortable. And my brother and his wife have dedicated themselves to overseeing Mom's care. They are awesome.

Don't get the wrong idea. Mom isn't ready to be propped up in the corner yet. She just went on a cruise last week and is busy contributing to the common good -- through word and deed, with a witty rapport and with her greatest gift, perhaps, her loving heart which is connected directly to her smile.

Although I live hundreds of miles away, Mom is by my side, even closer than that. I look at my hands and see hers. I'm even turning gray and getting wrinkles -- just like hers. If I have to age, I hope it is as gracefully and beautifully as Mom....

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Moment of Meditation

Just to soothe the spirit and remind you of the creativity that abounds.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


NATURE Can Animals Predict Disaster? Predicting Earthquakes - Celebrity bloopers here
Cats rule. It is true. They do not deal well with authority, not even another cat. They are in charge. And well they should be. With their natural ability for seeing and knowing more than us mere humans can ever expect to experience, they should be telling us what to do and when to do it.

In most homes cats instruct humans about feeding time, litter box changes, when they may touch the family feline and when they may not. The cat chooses which pieces of furniture they will shred, which lap to sit on -- or not -- and who may be singled out for some purr therapy.

Through the years cats have demonstrated an uncanny ability to forsee things. According to a delightful website "Superstitions and Old Wives Tales" --
Cats are looked upon as an infallible weather forecaster: if one sneezes then
rain is on the way; a cat sitting with its back to the fire indicates a storm;
while one sharpening its claws on a table leg is a sign of a change in the
weather, usually for the better.
Who knew the reason our furniture is being shredded was because of weather changes?

According to an article supposedly printed in National Scientist, cats can also read human's minds with 100 percent accuracy.

Kitty showed several flash cards to the laboratory cat "Fluffy," shuffling them
while concentrating on one symbol (in this case, the cross). Fluffy's job was to
pick the card Kitty was thinking about. Kitty tried to mislead Fluffy by waving
another card around.
There is even a test on the Internet to see if your cat has special powers. Be sure to have the sound turned on and not too loud on your computer or it might give you heart failure.

And, if that weren't enough reason to trust cats and animals and include them in your life, it is believed they can also predict disasters, and even death. Oscar the cat looks like a few strays who lived and loved in my childhood home. But, perhaps because we were all so healthy, they didn't have a chance to demonstrate their death detectors.

I have heard of cats sensing or detecting disease in humans, here's a link about dogs' abilities to do the same.
Mostly my cats just give me TLC and remind me who is the boss -- and it isn't me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lawn care woes

It seemed like an easy enough project. Just screw the container of weed and feed onto the end of the hose and spray the lawn. No big deal.
A week later the weeds were shriveling up, turning brown. The product seemed to be doing what it said it would do.

The second week our grass shriveled up, turned brown and now I'm looking out the window at this lawn that matches the new chocolate brown paint job on our house!

My husband felt I had over-treated the lawn. True, I used almost twice as much as the bottle suggested, but really, how accurate are those instructions? But I bore the burden of killing our lawn. I resigned myself to another big expense, this time for replacing sod, something we had never expected to buy. It seemed so unnecessary to have ready-grown grass placed in a yard. We could wait for grass seed. Well, that doesn't seem to be the case where we live, now.

We have given up our freedom and independence for a Neighborhood Development Committee who approves house colors, sends out nasty messages if lawns are not just edged as well as mowed each week, and they charge us for the pleasure of their oversight.

When we aren't quite sure what to do about something, we basically ignore it, waiting for inspiration, I guess. So we went about the business of putting things back in order after the lightning strike and the house painting. One of those need-to-do things was call the termite protection company and get them to do whatever it is they do around the base of the house to keep termites away. These are of course 'bug' guys and in business to make a profit, so one look at our lawn and they sent a salesman out. He told us without hesitation, "You have chinch bugs."

They are sucking the life out of the grass and depositing a toxin at the same time. Multi-tasking little predators. The salesman started naming all of the things we needed to do. Ending, I think after seeing the storm-cloud look on my face, with "At the least, the very least you need a one-time treatment to kill the chinch bugs."

I think they should be called cinch bugs because it is a cinch that no matter how we look at it, this is gonna cost dollars, lots and lots of dollars beginning with bug genocide for our lawn.

"What about the cute little lizardy anoles?" I asked.

"Oh, we start spraying and they run. It won't hurt them."

Somehow I got the feeling that this bug genocide salesman really didn't give a frootloop about anoles....

So we scheduled the treatment. What else could we do? I read about the chinch bugs and didn't find anything positive about them. Nothing.

The day came and went for the application. The saleman said, "emergency" several times, I thought they'd be right out to keep that appointment and collect the check.

Today they leave a note on the door that they can't do the treatment because I must pay the technician on the spot. But, but, but, who said they're coming today? It was yesterday when they were scheduled to come.

After a phone call and discussion, the company will bill us and the techie can come out whenever he wants to -- hopefully sooner than later.

Oh and as the salesman was leaving, after having sold us on the importance of getting rid of the bugs, he announced, "Once you get the new sod installed, we should treat it again...."

New sod? NEW SOD???

This was supposed to stop the bugs and let our grass grow back.

I remember the good old days when we grumbled about dandelions taking over the lawn. Who knew the day would come when I yearned for dandelion problems. At least now my husband has stopped blaming me for the brown yard. Maybe there is ONE good thing about chinch bugs.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Writer's Dream Come True

Ever since word got out about a single Mum writing in cafes to save on heating bills selling her first book of a series to Scholastic, writers have renewed their faith in dreams-coming-true. "It could happen" is the mantra for just about every fiction writer no matter what genre they labor over. "If J.K. Rowlings can become a billionaire, why can't I have my dream, too?"

And yes, the author of the Harry Potter series is reported to be a billionaire, having sold 325 million copies in 64 languages. She's richer than the Queen of England and has almost as many houses, I mean castles. And that's just the first six books.

The final book "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" first print run was 12 million books in the U.S. Amazon had orders for 2 million.

Writers should also take note, or maybe singles mothers should. That during this whirlwind rise from the ashes of poverty, Rowlings also found true love and gave birth to two babies, plus don't forget her dear Jessica who sat by her mama in that cozy little cafe way back when poverty was a member of their family.

In her recent interview with USA Today, Rowlings gives writers more motivation to follow their hearts. When asked about the future, Rowlings said she has no plans. "I can never write anything as popular again," she said. "Lightning does not strike in the same place twice. I'll do exactly what I did with Harry — I'll write what I really want to write, and if it's something similar, that's OK, and if it's something very different, that's OK. I just really want to fall in love with an idea again, and go with that."

Great advice for all of us writers who think we'd like to contend with the success, the wealth, and yes, maybe even the death threats.

My copy of the latest book was in my mailbox when I came home from work today. I haven't started reading it yet. But for me, a writer, a dreamer, Rowlings story is as captivating as her fiction. I feel like that little boy in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory searching for the golden ticket each time I sit down to write. I look at the writing landscape and wonder what the next phenomenon will be -- or will there be anything like this again in my lifetime.

And like every other fiction writer I'm saying, "Yes! Yes! Let it happen again and let it be me!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Time to Kick Some Bad Guy Butt

We haven't seen it yet, so don't ruin the ending....I'm talking about Live Free or Die Hard starring Bruce Willis. I mean, after watching all of these Die Hard movies, could it be that the bad guys might win one?


I love this series.

One reason is the good guy is not some namby pamby good guy he is a "Yippee Ki Yay...." good guy. Flawed, human, and so utterly a hero I can cheer for and in some ways identify with. He's just an ordinary guy. Every man. An American loner of the old tradition of Shane.

OK, he's Bruce Willis, and nothing he is involved in is ordinary (remember the TV series he was in -- Moonlighting-- it changed the TV landscape forever). But he, his characters, don't have super human or super wealthy abilities. He's tenacious and he's funny.

And he faces some of the coolest, most delightfully evil villains -- Alan Rickman (now known as Professor Snape). I adored his urbane evilness. And of course Jeremy Irons, the ultimate Mr. Cool.

And the sidekicks. Better than even Lethal Weapon's duo -- maybe not. But close. Samuel L. Jackson came off as my favorite sidekick of the three Die Hard movies I have seen. But I do have a soft spot for Dennis Franz. This new guy -- the computer commercial guy -- Justin Long. I can't wait to watch him interact with Bruce Willis.

As disappointing as America's 'non-military' political/leadership hero pool, given the men (and woman) running for president, and the president we now must contend with, we have to resort to fiction to reinforce our belief that we actually have good guys.

The last good guy I can say I truly believed in was Jimmy Carter, maybe Ralph Nader.... But they haven't done alot of physical butt kicking. So I return to Bruce Willis to deliver the adrenalin rush.

I am a pacifist, that's what I tell myself. I don't like confrontation. But I so enjoy watching an underdog fight for justice and freedom and the American way. I don't think that ever goes out of style. I guess if this were a music analogy -- Die Hard movies are the Sousa Marches of the movie world.
March on Bruce, march on!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Updates on Reverse Auction and Lightning Strike

Today we are closer to getting back to our normally scheduled lives after that near-direct lightning strike scrambled not only our electricity but shook up our lives a bit. Not as dramatic as the steam break in New York, our little emergency involved only us and the long line of service people we contacted.

Phone service has been restored, although I don't know if the telephone repair man hooked up the necessary line for the security service -- I guess we'll find out Saturday when the security tech arrives. We have one land line and our cell phone of course. Our cordless phones are forever silenced, fried. The DSL works then quits, then starts again, then flashes, then turns red and often requires a restart. I'm hoping this is temporary.

According to the Direct TV tech, our black boxes -- receivers -- were toast, too. Derrol was glad to see television reception restored -- too bad there isn't something worth watching!

The electrician checked out our wiring and it is all good. We are excited to find a reasonable, responsibile certifed electrician and are putting together a list of things we've been needing done, but didn't have anyone qualified to do them. Of course about all we saw was him test wires and change a lightbulb and reset a few outlets. But it was enough to bring the beloved toothbrush back to life.

The garage door opener isn't so easily fixed. It still remains mute (like the cordless phones) waiting to find out if we need to replace a little $20 transformer or the entire opener (for much MORE than $20). So far Sears is saying they don't have the part, that is when they answer the phone.

Our hot tub stands dead in the water, so to speak. The electrical hook up is fine, but the tub doesn't work. We're hoping it is as simple as a fuse blown. If you have ever dismantled a spa in an effort to find the fuses, you'll know that 'easy' may not be the appropriate description. Inexpensive may be what I am hoping for.

The adjuster sent by the insurance company climbed up on our roof and said how nice our chimney looks. But doesn't have an explanation for the leak that left spots in several areas of our ceiling. He suggests caulking around the roof vent, just in case.

And our security system continues to tick -- whether it is like a clock keeping track of the minutes since it was zapped, or a time bomb waiting to fly apart, I'm not sure.

Also in a totally unrelated topic, the SAQA Reverse Auction began July 16th. Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. (SAQA) asked members to create and donate One-Foot Squares. Members responded in record numbers. The squares and the rules of this fundraiser are available at: I want to point out the beautiful landscape square made by good friend and amazingly talented art quilt designer Eileen Doughty that can be seen at: and the prices are beginning to go down (thus the title 'Reverse Auction). It was at $500 earlier today. Several other prices are going down, too. It's a great opportunity to get some one-of-a-kind fabric art for yourself.

And for any of you wanting to read an educated, well-thought out blog concerning social, political and economic concerns, visit Barbara Ehrenreich's blog site. Her comments on the Medicare situation is worth the visit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fast as a Lightning Flash

One minute Derrol and I were sitting in our comfy chairs listening to the rain on our roof. Next nano-second we hear BOOOOOOM! ZAP! SIZZLE! Followed by my scream and me sliding off my chair in an attempt to get as far away from that doom-filled noise.

People really do have a natural inclination to hit the floor when danger strikes. At least this people does!

We're still sorting out what all happened, but lightning struck at least close enough to our house to scramble our electric wiring, set our security alarms shrieking, and scared at least one of his nine lives out of our Bernie cat.

Of course the first to go was the phone service, my Internet DSL hook up and much to my husband's horror -- his Direct TV service! Thankfully the computer seems intact. Bless you surge protectors! The cordless phone is toast. Communication came to a stand still. It may be the first time I've been truly thankful for our cell phone.

And my husband's grieving over his electric toothbrush. It took him two years to decide which brand to buy and in a flash, we're back to manual brushing. Oh what a hardship. Not.

It wasn't even a bad storm, as storms go here in the lightning capital of the world. Just bad lightning placement. So it is a wakeup call for us that if we actually experience a hurricane or tornado or severe tropical storm -- we're on our own. I think we'll be nixing our Bell South service and searching for something a bit more dependable. If there is such a thing. And we'll be investing in a weather radio and lots of batteries.

We're waiting expectantly for an electrician to test out our electrical systems. We also added a new garage door opener to our garage door order. Of course the nice man who came out to measure for the door more than a week ago asked me, "Are you going to replace the opener?" And I confidently replied, "Oh no, it works fine...."

How quickly acts of God change things.

A day without email access seemed like an eternity and made me realize how addicted I am to that form of communication. Add to that no phones, no television, and sadly no hot tub, our leisurely Florida lifestyle took on a less appealing style.

Thankfully the air conditioner kept working without pause or hesitation. I guess it is true that God knows how much we can bear and doesn't give us more than we can shoulder. After a good night's sleep, things began to look better. And I'm actually hopeful again that all is well. But I am stocking up on surge protectors, and instituting an 'unplug everything' policy at the first dark cloud.

We realized that our assurance that we were ready for bad weather -- was a false sense of security. We need to get organized and ready for whatever nature throws at us. I may get a special necklace and wear the key to the security alarms around my neck -- shrieking sirens that can not be silenced can cause a man and women to resort to some fearful things to shut them up. And worst of all, the security company had no clue we were having a problem. That doesn't make me feel very secure....

Hopefully we'll be good as new soon. But for now we are just feeling very thankful that it wasn't worse and there are people willing to help us get back to normal -- whatever that is.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Imprinting Quilt Shows

When I head to quilt shows, it is with such anticipation of what I'll see and learn there. I have yet to get to the American Quilt Show in Paducah, KY, but it is a goal of mine. I'd love to take classes with some of these creative women who generously (for a price) share their expertise. The whole atmosphere of a quilt show just feeds my spirit. The quilting community is warm and generous and comforting -- much like the work they create.

So my best assignments for writing involve writing about quilts and quilters. Recently I had the opportunity to work with Valerie C. White. Up until the past few years she's been known as the Louisville Police Chief's wife -- but now he is the husband of Valerie White, quilt artist.

Her quilts have such energy and delight and joy. You can see them move and undulate to the jazzy rhythms that influenced their maker. Add her African American heritage and you get a good idea of what these quilts involve. But there is a whimsy as well as layers of meaning to these quilts that draw you in and reveal themselves as you watch.

Her Changes quilt -- the last of a series -- is me after I've spent the day at a quilt show. :) The artist meant for them to reflect the changes that people undergo after a visit to Africa. Even Richard Pryor came back with a changed attitude....but for me her Changes will always be the imprint of all of those quilts on my face as I leave, filled with the urge to create something of my own.

Thanks Valerie for a most delightful conversation and for your beautiful quilts. I wish you all of the best.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Peace begats peace

A gifted writing friend, Ann Hite, wrote in her blog: "If you want peace, be peace."

She picked it up somewhere in her reading and passed it along.

The words conjured up an experience or maybe I should say a shift I've made in my own attitude.

Telemarketing calls infuriate me on many levels. They come at inopportune times, most of mine are computers with a canned message or someone with a foreign accent mauling my name. The worst are those who act as if we're old friends and won't take no, just keep hammering at me.

I'd slam phones down, yell at them to "Take me off of your list! Don't call again." And worse.

My son worked as a telemarketer for awhile and would tell of the horrid way he was treated. But that didn't stop me. I just couldn't seem to stop the anger.

These days I'm receiving more and more phone calls from clients, editors, colleagues. It is a sign of success, I tell myself. In an effort to promote good relationships and demonstrate business etiquette, I answer the phone with a more harmonious, welcoming voice.

Because I don't always recognize the name of the caller, I continue to be congenial. I still hang up on computer generated calls and tell telemarketers to "Take me off your list." But I do it with a smile in this new kinder, gentler phone voice.

My expectations when answering the phone have changed. Maybe something good is awaiting me instead of frustration and discourtesy. I feel better.

I really am more at peace. I like myself better. And as weird as that may seems, the new attitude makes it easier to deal with telemarketers and unwanted phone calls. And it is spilling over into other aspects of my life. Peace comes from within. Only we can control the way we act or react to others or situations. And as much as you want to say, "No I can't, it just freaks me out...."

Yes, you can control your emotions, your actions, your reactions.

We can chose to go angry and belligerently into the world, or we can seek the bliss of knowing that 'this too shall pass,' but your imprint on the people you encounter could last a lifetime.

Many people have crossed paths with me in this life -- they might be surprised what I remember about them. I would like to think I left them with a pleasant memory. Some days I still freak out -- but on those days when I can find my balance, my smile -- peace surrounds me like a protective force.

In this world of turmoil and greed, struggle and war, I hope you will strive to find your inner peace. The key to unlocking your peaceful center -- a smile -- real or forced. It is a magic thing that seems contagious, like turning on the tap for happy juice.

The sixties had a great greeting and farewell: Peace. What a great way to start and end an encounter.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Beatles now selling diapers

One of the exciting, thrilling things about getting old is you've seen a lot of history. And being a student when Beatlemania first hit the world ranks right up there with Neil Armstrong's moon walk.

Today I get an email from my son saying, "News that might just ruin my day: The Beatles have sold licensing rights to use their song, All you Need is Love, to Luvs for a commercial. Doesn't that just make your day?"

Like his father, music is of prime importance to him. And also like his father, they are stalwart Beatles fans. Their tastes diverge from that point, but on that they agree. Beatles rock.

I remember the Beatles funky haircuts, their British appeal, their innocence and their smiles. I remember the Fab Four on the Ed Sullivan show -- I saw the show when it originally aired.

Lately I've been missing John and George and lamenting Paul's too public divorce while wondering what Ringo was up to. Almost like distant relatives, I think of them now and then. They played a major role in my formative years and changed the music landscape forever.

Now their music is used to pimp diapers. "All you need is Luvs...."

How the mighty have fallen!

My husband's response, "At least it isn't Michael Jackson who sold the song and will get the money."

One blogger commented that many of us thought the first Beatles song to be used to sell diapers would be When I'm 64 and the diapers would be Depends. Somehow I like the humor of that.

But "All you need is Luvs" just ruins, just overrides the thrill of a song that yes, I could actually remember the lyrics to, but more importantly it became a rallying cry for my generation who were sick of corporate greed, war, government, and wanted to get back to basics.

Now there will be a generation of kids who will associate that rallying cry to nappies, diapers, and baby poop.

Wikipedia describes the Beatles hit All You Need is Love this way:

"All You Need Is Love" is a song written by John Lennon with
contributions from Paul McCartney[1] and credited to Lennon/McCartney. It
was first performed by The Beatles on Our World, the first ever live global television link. Broadcast to 26 countries and watched by 350 million people, the programme was broadcast via satellite on June 25, 1967. The BBC had commissioned the Beatles to write a song for the UK's contribution and this was the result. It is among the most famous and significant songs performed by the group.

Now after the 60s has become a memory of druggies and flower children instead of a generation of activists, our music is reduced to sound tracks for commercials, who wins?

Corporate greed.

And that's the pits about getting old, you live long enough to see your life turned into a commercial.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Making a house a home

Almost three years ago, we moved into the house where we now live. During that time we have lived with almost everything as the previous owners had left it. The only redecorating we did was to replace the washer and dryer. While the appliances were gone, we painted.

I chose a 'sunshine yellow' to brighten up that windowless room. The paint was actually named 'Van Gogh' yellow and that should have been my clue that it would be bright, bright, bright. At first I winced, but now I can't imagine it any other color.

We make changes slowly, very slowly, since neither of us want to redo something, especially because it was a bad choice. Maybe that was the motivation to embrace Van Gogh's yellow.

When I recently used a favorite piece of cloth to recover a valance in our bedroom, I pulled a green from that print and painted the window wall. Just that wall. The remainder of the bedroom desperately needs painted, but I can't decide if I want a whole green room. Please understand that the remainder of the house is green. The previous owners really liked that color.

Since I can't imagine the walls inside our house as any other color. We decided to work on the outside.

We hired Billy Price and love his work ethic and devotion to perfection. It took a few tries to come up with the colors we wanted him to paint our house.

At first I embraced a golden yellow -- it is that Van Gogh influence. But when we drove down the street and saw several houses being painted that color, we decided to try something else. So now we have a chocolate brown house with tan trim -- love it. LOVE IT!

Most houses reflect the inhabitant's personality by the door color. Seems that alot of people in our neighborhood like white, green or red doors. Our neighbor painted theirs black. Not sure what that says about them....

I wanted something different and chose blue. I thought 'Sapphire' blue, but sadly the color I chose was much more turquoise than that.

Now, like with the Van Gogh yellow, I'm wincing and not sure I can handle this bright, bright blue door. It looks Hispanic. But maybe if I get a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign to hang on the door or near it on a wall, maybe the door will look more at home and also reflect my heritage. Right now it looks out of place. I swear, it glows.

Yet, Heidi, our mail delivery person, shouted out while delivering the mail this morning, "I love it! It looks great!"

The painter just shook his head and said, "I don't discuss color choices. I just paint what you tell me."

The neighbor man diplomatically said, "Well, it certainly is blue."

My husband's coworker added, "Blue's good -- maybe navy blue...."

But I'm pinning my hopes on Heidi. Maybe she saw what I was hoping to create. A cheerful, welcoming entrance that would make you smile -- not because it was so ugly, but because it is a happy color.

OK, I'm probably going to repaint the door. But I'm sticking with blue. Just not this one.

The exciting part of this whole painting project is now when I drive up to this chocolate colored house -- it feels like it belongs to me. Who knew paint could make a house into a home.

Now we just need to pick out the new lighting fixtures, house numbers, and paint to decorate the green bench on our front never ends. But that's OK, at least now we feel like we are in our own home. And I could paint the foyer to match the door -- just not this door.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Oh how I appreciate my fingers!

For a couple of months it looked like my body was attempting to grow an extra finger out of the side of my middle finger on my left hand. My 'e' finger. If you're a typist you'll know what I mean. Health care providers call it my 'long' finger. Those of us who know sign language call it the bird finger.

Finally after several doctors looking at it, giving it a name -- pyogenic granuloma -- a fancy name for an infected benign growth of unknown origin -- they scheduled surgery.


It is a little growth, not much bigger than a wart. Just freeze it or give me a cream to make it vanish. Shave it off.

Noooo. My general practitioner named it and then named a surgeon for me to go see. She wouldn't touch it.


With all of the bells and whistles, I was told. They even wanted me to have an EKG and blood tests in preparation for this minor or all minor surgeries. They took a complete history right down to my foot surgery back in the 1990s -- "and which foot was it?"

Who cares? I'm having surgery on my FINGER!

I'm not one for unnecessary expense or procedures, so I searched for a way to simplify this removal procedure of a tiny little growth that had transformed into a major life-event.

The key, I discovered, was to omit the need for an anesthesiologist. The way to do that was to just have the procedure performed with a local anesthetic that the surgeon could administer himself. Just numb the finger and whack off the growth.

Well there is more to it than just whacking, I was informed. The complication comes for this kind of growth in the connection to a blood source. A tiny little vessel feeds it blood like it was sipping on a straw. Cauterizing the bleeder is key to success as well as getting all of the granuloma so it doesn't just grow back again.

No one knows what causes them. I read on the Internet that pregnant women and children tend to get them. Sometimes they just disappear. Mine didn't disappear, it grew an ear.

My surgeon, up to the last minute was still concerned that I might feel some discomfort. I've given birth to two large babies. LARGE babies. I can handle a little pin prick in my finger. My oldest son must test his blood three and four times a day -- ask him about discomfort.

So on Thursday, I went under the knife. The surgeon demanded that I have an IV and fed me antibiotics and Ringers Lactate -- whatever that is -- and I had to undress so that he could fix my finger -- sterile field, he kept reminding.

Seems that all of my clothes except my Fruit of the Looms are contaminated. Of course the nurse who has been dealing with all manner of patients for the past eight hours didn't seem to have any contaminates on her clothing as she accompanied me into the operating room, touched everything with her unwashed hands that she thrust at the last minute into a pair of gloves.

I just couldn't get past the ironies of this 'sterile' terminology. They do operations every 15-20 minutes. There was maybe 10 minutes between the previous surgery and mine. Do they really think that germs can be killed that quickly? They can't even get the room wiped down in that amount of time. Of course they do use enough of that awful-yellow colored soap benzo-something. With the amount they foamed up on my hand, I could have washed my car.

In less than 30 minutes in the operating room, at least half of that time making sure I didn't feel any discomfort, the surgeon -- a young lad with delicate hands -- removed the granuloma. Done!

Then he bandaged my finger. I have had catchers mitts smaller than this bandage. He tied my middle fingers together and so I am typing this as if my fingers were in a potato sack race.

I haven't seen his handiwork, but I would like to tell him that the type two narcotics he prescribed for the pain were also a bit overkill. I took a couple of Tylenol the first night and that's it.

I'm fortunate, I know.

And if I have something major happen, I'll know the surgeon to go to. But it seems that everything is done the same, no gradations, no common sense, no different levels of need -- all surgeries, all the time, all the same. I suppose it saves the staff from making decisions about how to prepare for the next surgery.

I'm so thankful that all went well, that this young man was gifted in the art of granuloma removal and that they cared enough to over protect me. I'll be ever so grateful until I get the bill. Then I will be thankful for insurance coverage -- something that is becoming more and more precious and even more difficult to get than a simple procedure.

And that is why my blog has not been updated until today. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Happy Birthday, Nick

My two sons were both born within a week of a holiday. Dave, my oldest, born just before Labor Day (seemed appropriate after 30 hours of labor) and Nick was born just two days shy of Independence Day.

We brought Nick home on July 4th to our apartment in Whitehouse, Ohio, entering town at the end of the annual holiday parade. We felt like celebrities as friends and neighbors and members of the church waved and cheered and wanted to see our new addition. Nick doesn't remember anything of his grand welcome. He doesn't remember the heat. He doesn't remember his first sunburn, and he doesn't remember the fireworks. But I will never forget.

I tell him the reason he has red hair is because he's really a firecracker. Corny even when he was young.

So, although we are separated this holiday by hundreds of miles, I will forever associate fireworks and freedom with my youngest son.

Happy Birthday Nick -- and Happy Independence Day.

A couple of years ago Nick brought us a lovely, special gift. It was near my birthday. He knew I had always wanted a daughter. I couldn't want for a better daughter-in-law than his wife: Casandra. She has brought us so much joy and just seeing the way she and Nick look at each other with love overflowing -- makes this mother's heart happy.

So wrapped up in this holiday is not only freedom, but new life, a loving son, and the joys he has given us for the past 29 years. Here's looking forward to the coming year and many, many more!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Knowing the family history is good for your health

Cousin MJ is the genealogist in the family. She maintains the family archives, photographs, family tree charts, and takes the time to track down birth, death and military records. Thanks to her I know that our grandfather, Christian, came from Germany by way of Canada and Fort Wayne, Indiana. She even dug up his father's and mother's names, which I can't recall at the moment. But if I sent a quick email to MJ, she could tell me. She keeps her records organized and can find just about any tidbit you'd want.

She inherited family recipes and put them together with the history of the cook into a book, or maybe it was a CD, as gifts for her three daughters. What a treasure!

Nothing makes MJ do a happy dance quite like finding another relative for the tree. Her idea of a fun time involves cemeteries or dusty library genealogy files. And, although that sounds like light entertainment, it is serious business, especially when it comes to family medical history.

What do we pass on to our kids? Freckles? Brown eyes? Curly hair? Dominant right-hand? Diabetes? ALS? Heart disease? Lazy eye? Arthritis? Glaucoma?

Doctors don't seem to want to know family history beyond the parents, more often than not they only ask about my own medical history. They don't care that my mother has turned into the bionic woman with just about every joint replaced.

But then of course, doctors rarely know a patient from birth to death -- unless the patient doesn't live very long. So it is up to us to know. We expect doctors to figure out what's wrong, but they barely know us, and haven't even figured out what's right, so it is up to us to keep our medical history and make it relevant to our own lives.

Maybe MJ could add another column to her records that list all of the ailments of past generations. Consumption? Old Man's Disease? They could be relevant to me, to my children, to my grandchildren.

But knowing MJ, I bet she already is way ahead of me. Did you know, Grandpa was blind? I bet MJ knows why.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Growing Old or Getting History

I have reached the age of graying hair, wrinkles (just a few around the eyes) and polite young people calling me ‘ma’am.’ I never thought I would hate polite. I do. For the longest time I would look over my shoulder, expecting to see my mother-in-law when someone respectfully called me Mrs. Goldsmith. Who me? No, really, I’m just Dawn. It had nothing to do with informality and everything to do with age. I was not ready to accept the matron title and the persona that went with it.

A couple years ago, I reluctantly admitted, there is now a bigger percentage of people younger than me, than older than me. It becomes more difficult to carry on conversations with nubile little check out clerks when I realize that my driver’s license is older than they are! School teachers look like students, I met the new Domestic Court Judge — I remember when he was born. I remember when he attended high school and played football with my sons and when he told his father, the farmer, that he wanted to go to law school. The kid in front of me in line at the grocery — he’s the new Methodist minister. That little girl is his wife!

These young faces surround me. At work I see a new face across from my desk and I realize it is a new coworker. He quickly supplies personal information. Age, 21. College graduate, all of three months. He’s getting married in six months. And I observe he probably doesn’t shave more than once a week. And he looks at me observing that, “you’re old enough to be my mother!” I really don’t like this kid.

Yet, I admire them for their fortitude. I wouldn’t want to be 21 again. I, for all my griping, like being where I am in life. The gray hair and wrinkles not withstanding, I like the wisdom that comes with age. I like knowing how it feels to be this age and I like knowing that I watched the moon landing on live TV and listened to Kennedy’s inaugural address and even saw the geyser, Old Faithful, in Yosemite while it was still so faithfully erupting. I saw this country before freeways. I know what it means to heat water on the stove and take Saturday night baths. I watched Gun Smoke before it was reruns in syndication. I saw M.A.S.H. the first time around. I was there for Vietnam. I protested and I sent my fiancé off to war. I sang the songs of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez when they meant something. I wore the original mini skirts and bell bottoms and platform shoes and wove flowers in my hair and mourned the kids that died at Kent State and watched the horrors of the war on nightly news. I was there when Kennedy was assassinated, when LBJ was sworn in, when Bobby and Martin died. When Teddy had his Chappiquiddick and Strom Thermon wasn’t all that old. I was there when women congressmen were different than the men. When they stood for something righteous and not for something lobbied for or lucrative. I was there when women first got maternity leave and when we burned bras and and and when we started becoming single mothers.

Getting old means I have a history – and I like that. I like that more than the wrinkles and title of ma’am.