Sunday, February 25, 2007

Missing my MIL

The little people and I drove up to Cleveland yesterday for a birthday party. It was fun. Always nice to see friends and enjoy a great milestone all at once. Another plus was it was decent weather and the traffic was bearable.

The big downer is that I am missing my MIL. I never thought I would miss her as much as I do. The reality is we were not that close. At least not in the traditional way. She lived to make my life difficult. If I said the grass was green she would insist it was blue. She also made H's life an uphill battle most of the time and for that I would often quietly stew. Never have I met someone so difficult. Never.

But all that aside - I am kinda missing it a bit. I guess I got used to it. I am not perverse enough to say I enjoyed it, but I guess it had become a normalcy that is now missing. I miss the phone messages in her heavy accent declaring - Susan, It is meeeeeeeee. (She made "me" sound like a really long word.) Or her litany of complaints about the neighbor, the cost of produce, the weather, the priest at church, the news, doctors & medication. I miss our Germisch discussions. The conversation flowing in and out of German and English, effortlessly. Not knowing the language flow was happening unless an outside party gave us a funny look.

The true sadness of it all and I have concluded this recently, but kicked it around for years, is that we could have been close. We both liked alot of the same things: cooking, reading, flowers, gardening and H. (I mean that is what brought us together.) It was handy that I studied German in both high school and college. I mean it made arguing all that much easier and in the last 18 months, it was helpful as her English failed her more and more. We were both strong willed, determined women. I admired her in many ways. She came to the US in the 70s at almost 40 years old. She self taught herself English for the most part. She left the only home she had ever had in a small village (I have been there and I mean it is small. I can walk from one end to the other in less than 10 minutes. Today it is roughly twice the size as when she left.) and moved to one of the larger Metropolitan areas in the US (Cleveland.) Not a path for the faint of heart.

Many times over the last 12 years, I have wished that we could have been closer, that we could have had more common ground. That I would have suited just a bit more. I am on the fence as to whether she liked me or merely tolerated me. I go back and forth. I mean we have spent a fair amount of time together. Be it trips to Cleveland to visit or once she relocated closer to H & I, dinners and the like. In the last 2 years, I had become a regular at her house. Helping with the grocery and checking in on things when H could not. I am who she called the day she had the heart-attack.

Towards the end, she seemed to be at peace with my visiting. That last night we spent together reading and talking, seemed like the truce I had always wanted. I wanted to make her feel comfortable that evening. I knew in my heart it was closer to the end, little did I know how close. I had wanted her to be at our house, but she would not hear of it. I had wanted her close to those who cared about her. I am still not sure if she understand that even though she made me nutts, I still did care. I kept facing the "firing squad" year after year, because I did care. As a human being and as the DIL I did care. On a certain level I really did like her - even when it felt a bit like a head ache that never went away- you just managed along with it. It was what it was and in the end - I ached for her, for H and for L & E. It was such a tough situation. One of her own creation - in many ways - but painful for us all.

We had argued about a month before she passed. She just could not accept the fact that her dogged determination to stay home until the bitter end was slowly killing H and I . It was a hard pill to swallow all around. Little ones to care for, a career that takes H away for days at a time, watching someone slowly slip away and trying to hold it together on so many levels, knowing that she was not following all the guidelines as outlined by those trying to help her achieve her goal. Watching the end was hard - so hard I cannot put it into words. While I was living it, little things escaped my notice - but now they creep into my conscience in a slow ebb and flow.

It is not that I regret anything. I just miss her. There is a place in the family that will never again be filled in the same way. I guess perhaps this is part of the grieving process, normal.

I would have gone to the cemetery while in Cleveland this weekend, but it was still snow covered. So that made it bitter-sweet. Not that I think you need to go to see, to remember - but there is something about being there and being near.

Questions to which I have no answers....

Yes well, here is a sample of the questions I have been trying to answer today:

1. Are dinosaurs in heaven with Oma. Does she get to play them?

2. If princesses have to wear pants and boots on cold and snowy days - do princes have to wear sundresses in the summer and at the beach?

3. Where does snot come from and why do I have so much of it.

I swear I am not making this up. There were a dozen more like this yesterday, but I have forgotten them. How does on answer questions like this. I mean sometimes a totally tongue and cheek answer is right there on the tip of my tongue. (Like number 2 - I almost blurted - well maybe on Miami Beach! All the while that is zinging around my head the self editing fairy is screaming - shut up shut up. Smile and say no!)
Where in the world do all these questions come from.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Funny Story II

Again some of you may have heard this one too, but it is funny so I thought I would share it too.

So the back story - just had E. H was gone for two and half months. I have the best friends in the world. It was a very warm spring and when I am pregnant and right after having a baby I crave ICE. Not the drug mind you - but rather frozen water.

So here beginnith the story!

It is in May. It is warm and I am eating a half pound of ice a day. Thank goodness we have an ice machine in the freezer. In theory, it will make as much ice as you could ever desire. You take ice out via the door (very handy - that ice dispenser) and it dumps more, refills and you can repeat the process as often as you like. Unless, it betrayes you and stops working. Ahhhh, the horror!

So, that is what happened. But never fear, we have a warranty. Sears must come fix ice maker. So I set it up. Repair guy comes to the house. L is napping and E is hungry, but ice repair man is there and is freaked at the idea that I might nurse the baby. So I am holding E off, while repair man is messing in my freezer. I am dreaming of ice.... must have ice. Baby can cry a bit, I need ice. Well, no dice. We need a part, so the repair guy orders the part, sets up a follow up appointment. Leaves. I feed E and stew over another week of no ice.

A few days later a package comes for H. I put package in the dinning room. He's not around and if he wants it - he will tell me. FORGET ABOUT PACKAGE.

So, the repair guy shows up. New guy. (Please note: he was really cute!) He looks in the freezer. Then asks me if I have the part? (Do I look like a ice machine fixer. No, why would I have the part. MMMM, ok, new mom, have a toddler/preschooler, not sleeping alot - totally forgot about the package that came for H. I thought the point was he would come with the right part and fix my ice machine. Dreams of ice.) So he plays in the freezer a bit more, tells me to call when the part arrives. It will be delivered to the house. (Might have been nice if first guy had mentioned that.......)

So still no ice (oh, alright who am I kidding - I bought a 5 lb. bag of ice at the store. Must have ice.) So I take the kids out and about and then return home. After getting them settled into bed for naps and setting down myself to rest, it hits me like a ton of bricks. The package..... I run to the dinning room and open the package. Some funky part. I call the repair guy on his cell phone. I describe part - he says: "Yep, that is it!" He says he will come back in the morning or on his way home.

He comes and fixes my ice machine. Ice from the door is bliss. He also kindly did not make me feel like the biggest idiot in the world.

Now, while I am somewhat embarrassed that the part was there all along. It is not totally my fault. First of all not sleeping alot..... secondly, the box no where says SEARS. How was I to know it was for the SEARS Kenmore repair guy. Hello! Furthermore, someone should have told me I would be getting the part and to keep it handy for cute repair guy.

But it worked out.....I got my ice :)

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I have been pondering this alot. Well, I ponder alot of things alot. Ideals fly around my head like butterflies. As a kid this was a real problem. Now that I am older and wiser and not employed in the psycho world of finance, I am letting the ideas flow and sometimes they drive me a little bit batty.

So I have been thinking about the many sides to an issue or an event. It seems to me there are as many sides to a story as there are viewers or participants or both. Person A will see something slightly different from Person B. It is human nature. We all see the world, life thru a slightly different lens.

My mom and I have a rocky relationship. My high school years were not the best and my parents did not really get along. The road to divorce was long and rocky and no one managed to drive along it without some chips to the paint as it were. But funny thing - we all see those chips differently. We have also all dealt with the chips, differently.

But what is the truth to what was happening. Whose truth is more valid. Which truth is true. Can someone wanting your truth to be different ever succeed in changing your mind. Should you let them and at what cost? MMMMM.

I am not sure what is the answer to my quandry. I am still puzzled. I always tell L she must tell the truth, that if she tells me honestly what happens - that I might not like what she has told me, but that the truth - honesty is always better than the alternative.

Sometimes I wonder though.... IS IT???


AS a bit of intro- I discovered Nalini from a Sil Desire novel, that was in a bag of books that a friend gave me. Then I stumbled upon her web-page and her Slave to Sensation novel. The first para-normal fantasy book I had every read - unless you count Tolkin, which I read for a class in college - or maybe that story about the Lilliputians - in Eng Lit.

But anyway, I wanted to pass this along to you all, to support the release of her new book.(Ok, Ok, I also get entered into her contest - so that helps too.... but seriously - this is fun too!)


1. Which psychic power would you most like to possess?

I would so like to be able to find things, that are missing without tearing my house apart. I spend a serious amount of time looking for my car keys, sippy cups, favorite toys, a stuffed bunny named Babalious aka BABY aka BABS, a stuffed bear, the remote control, my cell phone, my sunglasses, my husbands sunglasses, his car keys, his work ID and any number of other household items. To simply be able to wish them to appear in front of me would rock!

2. If you could see the future, what would you like to see?

I really would hate to be able to see the future. I am not sure it is health to know what it going to happen in the future. Messing with time is a heady thing. I remember reading The Time Travelers Wife and that just seemed to freaky a concept for me. I will just stay right where I am.

3. Imagine you woke up one day and could shapeshift - what would you shift into?

I would like to shift into a hawk. I would really like to be able to fly and see the world from the sky. It also would not hurt to be near the top of the food chain, as an animal and as a human.

4. What kind of a paranormal creature would you invite over for dinner if there were no limits on who you could ask?
I would like to invite some fairies over for dinner. They seem like they would be fun and my daughter really really likes the fairy godmothers from Sleeping Beauty. Although the Valkyie form Kresley Cole's Vampire series seem really cool too, they might be fun dinner company too.

5. Which future innovation do you wish would hurry up and get here already? i.e. flying cars, a transporter, computers with artificial intelligence, an auto chef?

Well I may sound like a broken record, but seriously I spend so much time searching for my stuff and other people's stuff, I would love a household computer that keeps track of stuff and brings it to you when you ask. If you want your coat, just ask. If you want the groceries put away, just ask. Like a smart house that cleans itself.

This meme was begun by Nalini Singh to get the word out about her next book, Visions of Heat (releasing March 6).

Want to play, too, and enter to win a $50 Amazon voucher plus an ARC? Click here for details.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Who said I had to be logical and consistant

Ok, so I have to clarify something. The logic is as follows:

1. I love my glasses
2. I am so happy that I choose to have LASIK

These two statements are not mutually exclusive. In fact I still love my glasses. H wants me to run out and donate them. I want to keep them on my dresser. Will I need to wear them in the near future - no I am seeing 20/20 for the most part and loving every second of it.

Now, it is my feeling, that as a woman I can change my mind on a whim. When it suits my fancy or any other time I damn well please. However, I do see the shocking and apparently glaring inconsistency of my posts! I did say I loved my glasses. I did gloat a bit that I liked getting compliments on their stylishness. None of those facts have changed. Still true today.

Now, I also must point out that I can see great. No more chasing my glasses as they slide down my nose, run off in the smeary, grimy and sticky hands of my toddler turned cat burglar. No more squinting at the clock in the middle of night. No more nearly losing them while working on perfecting my downward facing dog, ect!

The main reason that most of you were shocked by my LASIK post is that I told virtually no one I was having it done. I just could not stand stories about some one's cousin's brother's friend's girlfriend's aunt's daughter's teacher's dog. (Not that any of you would do that!) So I choose to face the laser and spill my guts later. (I needed to be strong! Note I stated it did not hurt - but at no point did I say I was not a bit worried. This process involves a LASER and my eyes. How often do you use those 2 words in the same sentance.)

So now that my logic is as clear as mud, I will leave it at that. Nuf said!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Funny Story

The other day - L asked what was the funniest thing I had ever seen. MMMM, that is a tough one. So I kinda hummed and thought about it for a bit and made up something - sorta funny, because honestly I cannot tell her about the funniest thing I ever saw. For those of you who know me - you might have heard it - but I will share it again.

So in my former life, I worked with 401K plans. One of my regular duties included hosting enrollment and educational meetings. This would mean traveling to the plan sponsors work site and setting up my projector and laptop and doing the meeting. A number of our plans involved factories.
So one such meeting was in Florida. I had to be there at 6:00 am. So I arrived and got set up. My contact - I will call her P, met me and while I had spoken to her on the phone, I had never met her in person. She was in her 60s and very sweet. A little brash and brassy. Kinda with an edge. With a bee-hive 50s style hair-do. I knew it was going to a long day when she asked me in all seriousness if I "spoke Haitian" Ahh, no. I live in central Ohio - I am blond (well I was then, heh, heh) and have grey/green/hazel eyes. So then P hits me with the next question - "Well you must speak Spanish then?"
I pause, "Ah, no! German" I volunteered.
She just sighed and shot me a look.
So after some discussion with the shop foreman on my part, I had arranged for both a Haitian and Spanish interrupter. The meeting was slow - with it being given in three part language harmony - but we muddled thru every last fund and objective.
If this were not enough pre-breakfast and coffee - the fun really started when I headed back to P's office - to go over the enrollment process with her and what she needed to know about loans and distributions. I normally did this at every site I visited.
We get to her office and it was a large room, with a high back chair in one corner(which she suggested I sit in) and an old desk along the opposite wall and a long table adjacent to the desk. She had an "L" shape work space with a rolling executive chair. At each end of the "L" she had a trash can and about 2 ashtrays.
NOW the FUN began. She lit one cigarette as she sat down. (now I am an avid no smoker - but I was not going to freak. I could handle a bit of smoke.) So as I started my standard run thru she listened and smoked - taking drags at a steady pace. Then she rolled to the edge of her desk and laid the cigarette in the ash tray, rolled back towards me and lit up again. Rolling closer to where I sat at the short end of the "L." As she listened she began to tap ash into the trash can. I took a deep breath and continued on. Then she rolled back to the other end of the "L", lit another cigarette and rolled back towards me, with both cigarettes and a copy of some materials I had previously mailed to her. Dropped the almost completed cigarette into the trash can and started going to town on the new one. (Now should I worry about her hair getting on fire as she waved the cigarette about wildly as she talked, or the now lit cigarette in the trash, mmmm. What was I talking about???)
All of a sudden I have visions of fire. Had she really put a lit cigarette into the trash can? This process continues for about 15 minutes. P rolling along the "L" with various cigarettes in play. One in her mouth, one in her hand, a few in the ashtray, some in the trash. I am feverishly trying to keep track of them - so sure the room is soon to go ablaze.
She must have looked up from her rolling, smoking and questioning and saw the horror on my face, which she mistook for lust or desire for a cigarette - because she the offers me one from the now nearly empty pack - unfiltered Pall Mall (do they still make those???)
In a rush, "I say oh, no I am fine thanks."
To which she responds, "Well, you do not look fine."
I cough, from the smoke and to stifle any flippant comment lurking in my subconscious.
And onward I march. When we conclude our meeting I head back to the hotel - for a shower.

Now I have to admit now - it was funny. I mean, seriously, I have had friends who chain smoke, but this was extreme to say the least. It was rather like juggling cigarettes. The rolling and smoking and talking. Combined with the ash and lit cigarettes going into the various trash cans. WOW, watch out!
I can only imagine the look of shock and horror on my face.
So not funny hah-hah in the classical sense - but still one of the strangest and funniest things I have seen.
So have you ever had an experience like this??

Glasses no more....

Yes that is right - as of Friday I am glasses free. I had LASIK done. I have been toying with this for 3 years. I admit at first I was so not excited about a procedure that included the words - eyes, laser, flaps, and reshaping. But I have to say that contacts are not working and glasses with active kids were giving me more and more problems. So I decided to go see about it again.

So, Friday I took the plunge. Today I am seeing great - a bit blurry at times and bright light is to be avoided, but all in all I am so pleased. Last night when E was fussy in the middle of the night and I went to check on him, I could see without hunting for my glasses. It was nice.

So the procedure you wonder. Really painless. The worse part was the doctor "marking" some guiding marks on my eye lids. It takes a special kind of person to poke at your eye while chanting - "no, don't blink, just keep looking to the left, hold steady, no blinking." Really there are words for people like that!

But beyond that it was easy and painless. It took about 5 minutes total (I think) to you the laser in each eye. Some pressure and just a bit of odd noise but no pain. Then I came home, took a nap and was reading a book at 9 pm last night. I felt a bit like I had sand in my eyes and they did burn a bit off and on in the afternoon, but today I am fine and within a month, I should be all set.

Now I guess I should give everyone a bit of a disclaimer. In the last 5 years - I have had two children. Both without the use of drugs. So, I do have a tolerance for pain and honestly - labor can seem like it goes on forever, right - so this procedure was like 2 to 3 contractions long. So just bear that in mind before you run to nearest LASIK provider. Think along the lines of having a cavity filled. Mildly irritating - but essentially short in duration and in a few days - you are as good as new - well better actually.

Now where did I put my sun glasses......

Knee deep in Snow

Yes Well, I have not been about lately because I have been busy dealing with snow. It started snowing here on Monday afternoon and did not let up until Wednesday. Depending on where you are in the city you have 6 to 12 inches. Plus there was a good bit of drifting. They say a picture is worth 1000 words - but sorry you are just going to have to visualize on your own - as I am not going to be standing in the snow snapping pictures. Trust me - I cannot see my deck and my driveway now looks more like a tunnel than a driveway. My front door - forget about it.

On Tuesday, I shoveled with the help of the neighborhood teenagers. They were great! But come Wednesday we had this weird mixture of snow - ice - sleet-snow that came up in big chucks. If I had been so motivated I would have been able to build a killer igloo, from the chunks! It took me and my neighbor to break it up and dig me out. It took us an hour and then I came in the house and melting into a puddle.

And H, you wonder where he was for all this fun and excitement. Well, stuck in Atlanta. So he was bored out of his mind and not getting paid for people watching - but at least he was warm and not getting pelted by falling ice on Tuesday and/or chipping at icy snow - but then he did have to did his car out of the airport parking lot on Thursday!

Anyway - I am done with winter. I hate snow. I hate winter and I have had my fill. Bring on the sun and fun! I am craving flowers and the like.

Although-- someone did bring home a nice big basket of tulips on Thursday - so I guess I can gaze at them and envision spring - as I watch the snow fall today!

But hey, while we are cooped up inside - check out this quiz - too funny.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Down memory lane...

I have to say that recently we have been sorting the MIL's stuff, as we cleaned out her house. It is a tough job and now we are down to trying to catalog and integrate the stuff we are keeping with our stuff.

So we are looking at old pictures and remembering her and I am trying to put things in some usable order, as I want L & E to have a sense of their history. I think I am a bit too obsessed about this - but I think it is important to have a sense of where you come from. Adoptive children often spend years seeking out their birth families to have a sense of that history. Sometimes it is to establish a sense of medical history. Whatever their reason(s), history is important.

Both L & E have very small immediate families. H is an only child of older parents. He had no cousins very close to his age. Half of his family lives in another country. Not like one can be all that close. Now - perhaps with the advent of email and the phone - but when his family immigrated in the 60s - it was alot harder. Also none of his cousins overseas were close to his age.

Me? Well our story is one part small immediate family and one part dysfunction - of varying sorts. My grandmother traced her side of the family all the way back to England and Wales. She was very active in keeping the family lore - but sadly with her passing - the distant cousins drifted away. I was too young to really keep up. Now I fear it is too late. There are no reunions anymore.

My children will be left with some photos, some old Bibles and prayer books. Some stories that H & I share with them. I am taking them overseas to see my MIL's hometown this spring. I want them to know where they came from. That their family stories are that of conquering some pretty tough odds, of taking a pile of lemons and making some damn good lemonade. It is a story of taking your knocks and getting up again to stand tall and proud.

It is my hope that I can create that for them, by showing them the physical places that Oma and Opa walked. To show them where my grandparents grew up - along the Ohio River. I want them to know this. I want to feel that while no one did anything really big, no one was famous, that their history still matters. They were real people, with real problems and real opportunities. H's father came to this country for a better life after WWII and he found it.

Maybe over the next few weeks I will share some of their stories, they really do matter.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sensory Overload

Ok, let it be said that I do not get out much. That is one part circumstances and one part free will. (I am a closet homebody.) However, I am also somewhat of a protester of popular culture. Now before anyone runs off screaming - I am not a member of some secret anti- group , I am not stock piling beans and bottled water, nor am I encouraging anyone to blow up their TVs. (although ours may implode all on its own. It is 11 years old and is color challenged. Really, it is lacking blue - which if the Smurfs were still around, might be a problem.)

All in all, it is true, I am living under a very large and cozy rock - not unlike a potato bug, snail or a slug. I freely admit it. But I have digressed.

The entire point of this post is to describe a birthday party that we just went to - at Chucky Cheese Pizza. WOW, was it an extravaganza of noise, lights, people, kids, the badly dressed and screaming animals singing on TVs. I was so overwhelmed. It was so loud, I could hardly talk to other moms. But all that aside, the really scary part was people were waiting in line for up to a half hour - all to enter this noisy soup of popular culture.

Now I will admit, I have not been to this type of place since I was about 8 years old. On occasion and for some work related functions I have been to the adult version - Dave & Busters or GameWorks - but really this was more than my head could take in. Too loud and too many people. Plus I was somewhat obsessed with the fact that there appeared to only one way out. Is that legal?

I am just not sure if I am doing my kids any favors by avoiding these types of place. I got alot of strange looks, when I volunteered that I had never been there. I am not sure video games are all that good for kids. I would much rather take them to the library or the park. Maybe a museum or swimming. Media is so present in their lives already, that I just like to expose them other things. That said, I worry that L, might be culturally behind a bit when she hits kindergarten - in that we do not watch Disney, we have not heard about high school musical or the Cheetah girls (huh?)

All that aside - she seems ok. She knows Dora and Diego and she has been to the Caribbean, Canada, Europe and many places in the US - so maybe she is behind in popular culture - but boy does she have frequent flyer miles. Which I suspect will be more important to her as she gets older.

So I am going to go rest my eyes and head and try to get the beeping to stop.

Friday, February 9, 2007

A quick trip

Well, you know that sometimes real life is fun, so I will tell you about our last 24 hour adventure. H is home for 6 days, so we wanted to take the kids somewhere - anywhere. With all that has been happening in the last 6 to 9 months. We have stuck pretty close to home and since free time has been at a premium, we have not done much that has focused only on them.

So we checked out The GreatWolf Lodge located right next to King's Island, in Mason (northern Cincinnati, Ohio) It is brand new, in fact in a week or so they are planning their official Grand Opening Celebration. It isa huge hotel which features an indoor water park. Very cool, given that the weather here is ultra - cold! It has a rustic, hunting lodge feel. Black Bear sculptures, a large tree house in the lobby, a restaurant with trees and such inside and lodgelike/cabin like decor. Very kid focused and a big bonus - the entire lodge is smoke free. They have a kids club, with no water stuff to do and story time in the evening. (We skipped that - H took them to the free cookie decorating.)

The place is brand new, so naturally it was really clean and nice. It has a huge amount of water fun, in a relatively small area. Lots of slides and falling water and places to splash and a nice wave pool. Since we were there during the week, there were mainly families with young (pre-school and early school age kids.)

The only downside - was our littlest one decided he was not going to sleep and since the "suite" was not a suite in the traditional sense of the word - we had a bit of trouble. Which troubles me, as it always seems like that is our problem, someone not sleeping. But all in all, we plan to go back and everyone had a really nice time.

So often the restuarants at these types of places - leave a bit to be desired - however we really enjoyed the breakfast buffet today. Moderatley priced and with a huge variety - we really felt we got our monies worth. (Note: There was plenty for me to eat that was dairy and wheat/corn free!) We packed our dinner - so I cannot comment on the evening meal selections - but f it was anything like breakfast, I imagine it was good.

Then today we decided to go back to a place that H and I went to alot while at Miami University. Jungle Jim's in Fairfield, Ohio. Now, all of you who know me, know I love food. I have always been a foodie of sorts. Albeit, one with food issues, but I do so like food and I love to cook. In college, I took many a drive to Jungle Jim's.

Well in the 5 or so years that I have not been there, I have to say it has expanded in a big way. It is now an extravaganza. In fact H and I kept saying to each other - "Wow, this is a bit overwhelming." However, it was a nice time and we got some really yummy items that we will be eating over the next month or so and I think the kids enjoyed the trip too.

So, while the weather is chilly we managed to indulge in some water fun and indulge our inner foodie! Not bad for a weekday adventure!

Not bad at all!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Memories and old stuff

I have a few saved posts that I am not done with, but wanted to put this out there. H and I are big E*Bayers - mainly we have selling all our old stuff. (actually stuff our parents have given us and used airplane parts.) We have been busy selling more stuff - as we clean out his mom's house and our basement. As reformed pack rats there is alot of stuff.

So - in a jar of old jewerey and the like, I found my grandfather's service pins from when he worked for State Penn and then for the State of Ohio. He retired from the State of Ohio in the late 70s. (He had had a heart attack and was of retirement age. I was about 6 or 7 years old.)

Well, I decided to sell the pins on Ebay. I thought a collector might really like to have them. Clearly they meant very little to me - since they were mixed in a jar with old hair clips, some old buttons and so forth.

Well they sold for $60. (there were 5 of them.) I was really pleased, because hey - I got $60 for something that was in my basement and presumably someone that will spend $60 for old pins must really want them and will take care of them. To them they will be meaningful.

So I packaged them up and mailed them off to the buyer and did not think a think of it. Until the buyer emailed me to to thank me for the quick shipment and said the following:

"Received pins today in fine condition. What prison did your dad work at? Do you have any of his badges from the prison? Can't figure out why someone would want to sell items of the family like this but they will all go in my personal collection of Ohio prison items."

Well, the last line of that email bothered me like a bad toothache for the better part of yesterday. I am not really sure why. To me, my grandfather was not a prison guard or the manager of the machine shop for the Ohio Penn. He was the man who puttered in the garage and mowed the grass on his Cub Cadet riding mower. He was the man, who taught me to drive 3 on the column in an old Chevy Impala when I was 14 years old - because it was fun and he was bored that summer. We stayed with him on Thursdays while my grandmother went to her Sewing Circle.

He called the buffet at Elby's "The Trough" and used to meet his friends for lunch there. He would walk around town in ratty old pants and shirt with over $1000 in $20s in his pocket. He loved going to the Hardware store to get the daily update.

He was a good man. He worked hard. During the depression he hauled coal from West Virginia and then would whatever he could back down. He married my grandmother and they were married for 53 years. They survived some really difficult times. He survived the Ohio Penn riots - because he had been fair and kind to the inmates and they had hidden him in a closet. Otherwise he would have died.

He is the reason I got to study abroad in high school. He gave my mom the money to cover the trip. He felt I should go see the world.

He also slipped me money - the last night I saw him alive. The night before I left for Germany. He was in the hospital. He was dying of cancer. We all knew it and we did not talk about it. I had offered to stay home and he told me "Suzy - you are getting on that plane and you are going to experience all that you can, learn all that you can, and love life." He gave me some more spending money and told me to take alot of pictures and bring back something to remind me of my trip. It was one of the only times I saw him cry. He knew he would never see me again. I was so sure he would still be there when I got back.

I bought a Steif Teddy Bear with that money. I still have it. I would never get rid of that bear - but some old pins? For me it is just not the same.

He died while I was gone. He was buried and I missed it all. For a long time that haunted me, but I now know that I was fulfilling my destiny and that is what he wanted. I was getting to see a part of the world he had only read about. I was getting the education that he had never had the opportunity to get. I was experiencing life. What a gift.

This entire train of thought - also reminded me of a conversation that I had with a school mate. who also went on the trip. He had taken no pictures and had purchased very few momentous. I had asked him: "Why not??" and he told me something to the effect that his memories were in his heart and mind and would be with him always.

I did not believe him then - but I do now. The best memories are in your mind and heart. Stuff is just stuff. The experiences stick with you forever. It is not about how many pictures you have, but the memories you nurture and the time you take to care about others.

So, does the email still bother - NO. I have what is truly important.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

I found this on a BLOG I just started to follow. Love her insight on books. Many on my TBR list come from her suggestions! Check it out. Maria put this up and now I am doing the same :) Give it a try. Cut and paste and do it in email or on your blog.

1. Cigarette: Disgusting
2. Sex: Connection
3. Relationship: partnership
4. Ex: co-workers
5. Power: House
6. Create: -ive
7. Job: Rocking Stay at Home Mom
8. Food: choices
9. Type: writer
10. Home: safe
11. Care: ful
12. Value: treasure
13. Eve: snakes
14. Jest: er
15. Religion: Episcopal
16. Thunder: God of War???
17. Fear: No
18. Marriage: our third child
19. Back: water
20. Spark: Sparkle
21. Tear: drops
22: Trust: Betrayal
23: Boredom: No anymore
24. Inside: Out
25: Fire: Fahrenheit 451
26. Game: Chutes & Ladders
27: Soft: as a baby's bottom
28: Ice: Cold
29: Hard: Ass
30: Because: I want to
31. Community: It takes a village
32. Wood: Carving
33. Theme: Not sure
34. Love: of my life
35. Hate: too much of in this world
36. Friendship: more valuable than gold
37. Money: clip
38. Heartache: opportunity for growth
39. Lust: mmmm, not going to share this one!
40. Time: Not enough
41. Divorce: not what I had thought when I was younger

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Time to get serious

So - I have gotten off my schedule altogether, but I am back at it and getting serious now. I am going to tackle some edgy topics and get in the swing of writing again. A few friends have really encouraged me - so here it goes. I welcome your comments and will attempt to respond as time permits.


Reality and Fantasy.

So, I have been spending alot of time thinking about this in the last week, for reasons I will not share. Suffice to say that the topic has come up and I have used a fair amount of gray matter thinking about many related topics and ideas.

So, why is it that we spend so much time escaping reality all the while being scornful of those who live, want to live or enjoy escaping into the realm of fantasy. I mean really the entire point of fantasy is to escape reality - right? Let it also be said - that one man's/woman's fantasy is another's reality and vice versa. It is not a one size fits all proposition. I mean how dumb would that be - "This is going to be your fantasy!" Please! Like one size fits all T-Shirts - the reality is that that is a dumb idea - does not work - if you wear a size 2 or a size 12 - no way is a one size fits all T-shirt going to work and work well. So it makes sense that fantasy should come in shapes and sizes. Book, movies, TV, your own get the idea.

This came from a BLOG that I follow and I think she is right on the money.

Books come in variety of genres and so they should. I mean for all the visualizing I can do about John Wayne like cowboys - Western Novels really do not work for me. I also have a hard time with talking animals and very dry mysteries. Sometimes a "serious" work of fiction does it for me - but more often than not I am drawn to romance novels, suspense and spy novels, and recently I have dabbled in paranormal romance. Because hey, lets face it - it is an escape - it is fantasy and sometimes we just need a vacation from reality.

For example, after a long day or chasing 2 kids around, trying to figure out what the almost 2 year old wants but cannot exactly put into words, figure out where the car keys have gone, make three meals, clean up after three meals, chase down the missing socks from the laundry (where do they go - a mystery worth solving at a later date), organize a wide variety of things - from play dates to church potlucks, and so forth and so on - do I really want to curl up a night with a copy of "A Catcher in the Rye" or Catch-22? Oh, no my friend. I have read those before and seriously what was the point? Hands down I am going choose the latest from Nalini Singh or Alison Kent (to name a few!)

And this does not just have to be about books. Movies too. For those of you who know me - know I can hardly work our DVD player. Until last weekend, I had not been to the movies since May 2002. (We saw Spiderman - last weekend I saw Catch & Release) I have tried NetFlicks and liked it very much - just did not watch them fast enough. (OK I have been so busy reading that I did not have time to watch DVDs. There is only so much fantasy time.)

So, OK I have shared my thoughts - what about you??? Is escaping reality for a few chapters therapeutic for you too? Is it so bad to imagine what it would be like to be someone else?