Monday, January 30, 2012

A Song for my Husband

McDonald's Breakfast Burrito

My husband of 39+ years and I have had this running ‘battle’.  One thing you need to know is that he loves fast food while I am not one who randomly eats empty calories or fat-laden burgers.  Another thing you need to know is that John loves to eat this fast food in the car while he is driving.

The Big Mac
Oh, the arguments we have had over the years.
Oh, the Big Macs, Famous Stars, and Jumbo Jacks that he has eaten (not always successfully) while trying to drive. While he does this, I am simmering in the passenger seat, sometimes steering the car while he stuffs those special sauce burgers into his mouth.
And, no, he would not let me drive while he ate.  You don’t want me go into that direction.

Famous Star
In honor of this ongoing struggle, I have written lyrics for a song.  The melody would be more on the lines of country western; maybe Arlee Bird or Elisa'shusband Cade could come up with something.  Well, here goes.

I’ll eat my dang burrito—
Don’t care if it might drip.
Oh, sure, the thing is messy,
But I’m over fifty-six.

Eat my burrito-oh- oh…
And pour salsa down the side!
Eat my burrito-oh-oh…
And let that salsa slide.

I’ll eat that hot burrito
‘Cause McDonald’s made it hot.
Jumbo Jack--nummmmy!
I am a grown man, that you know,
A careless kid I’m not.

(Possible key change with a snazzy riff)

I’ve got this big ol’ belly,
It works just like a tray.
No, I don’t need another napkin,
I 'll do it my own way.


You might hand me a napkin,
There’s a big drip down over there.
No, the people that I work with
Won’t notice or even care.

(Repeat, and throw in some big ending)

WELL, there you have it: a song for my husband. 

Also, today is the A to Z Challenge Kick Off!   This is so exciting!!  Click on the badge on the right of this post to access all the information!   Yay!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Other Side of the Curtain

You wake up the morning, thinking of the plans for the day.  It is a day off from work, and a full ten hours of daylight lie before you.  Movies?  Walk in the park with someone?  Visit friends or relatives?  Go out for lunch?

But, no.  Something else wakes up with you, and you end up in the emergency room.  The ER is packed with people elbow to elbow, jockeying for a spare chair.  It is a holiday and all the doctors’ offices are closed.  Everyone in a city of 130,000 is lined up to get help for something.

I was there, oh yes, I was there.  A migraine had emptied me out and left me a dried up worm of a person in agonizing pain.

During eight of those ten daylight hours, an appreciation for the plights of men swept over me.

When a gurney surrounded by curtains became available, I finally was allowed to lie down. In the bright cubicle with my eyes covered, my super hearing kicked in, and unwillingly, I became part of the drama* taking place on either side of me.

Off to my right, an elderly man with the beginnings of Alzheimer’s talked with his granddaughter, who had brought him in.  The rumble of his voice and the tender response from the young woman rolled through my quiet pain-filled space.  Love was there, and the grandpa would go home soon.

But to my left.  Man. 

On the other side of the curtain a young man (early twenties, maybe) had come in with chest pains.  Thinking it was the remnant of bronchitis from weeks ago, the man/boy talked with the doctor.  His answers to standard questions rang an alarm in my own chest.  Drugs?  Uh, not for a couple of weeks, only ‘coke and some weed.  Drinking binge?  Uh, only a few beers.
His answers were always followed by a silence

Each question was asked in different ways.  Tests were run, more questions asked.  Then the man/boy was left alone.  No friends or family brought him in; no one sat holding his hand.

Doctors came in, one after another, to talk with him.  Each time the questions were the same, but the answers came closer and closer to the truth.

Ultimately, the cardiologist came in; he had the results of a Cardio-Ultrasound, which he showed to the man/boy. 
Enlarged heart.  Stroke level blood pressure.  Tell me again…drugs…?

The truth came out in almost inaudible whispers.  The next words from the doctor were that this man/boy was being admitted to cardiac care unit, and then if there was any family to be called. 

His gurney with all its attached IVs and monitors were wheeled away with the young man/boy in stunned silence.

The ‘mom’ in me wanted to go with him, hold his hand, pray with/for him.  The first two I couldn’t do, but prayer was what I could manage. 

Then I was released after getting a ton of drugs that would kill the monster migraine and restore me.

The other side of the curtain—you never know what you will learn at the end of the day.

...and the curtains come down....

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

With Lightning Speed

I was on a long-weekend trip with my husband to Idyllwild, California.  The mountain air was brisk; there was the promise of snow in the air.

We wore coats because it was cold and we needed them.  Those coats were so thrilled to be let out into daylight; lingering in a closet must be depressing to a coat meant to shield one from rain, or buffer away the cold wind.

We did our best to support the mountain economy, buying mugs and gifts for our granddaughters.  Anything with a red cardinal on it was in my hands and at the cash register in lightning speed.

It was in the Mountain of Books store that I found a book by Alice Hoffman, The Ice Queen.

Recently, one of my posts dealt with the issue of being invisible.  The M/C narrator (never ever given a name) in this book survives by her ‘invisibility’.   Then she is struck by lightning.  Instead of killing her, this electric life-changing event sends her in a different life direction.

Are people drawn to each other because of the stories they carry inside?  At the library I couldn’t help but notice which patrons checked out the same books.  They appeared to have nothing in common, but who could tell what a person was truly made of?  The unknown, the riddle, the deepest truth.

Reading the narrator’s journey left me wondering about this being-invisible status so many of us share.  It made me resolve to break through the shields of the invisible. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Utmost for His Highest

I sat down at the computer today with great intentions to write about an observation or two that had been part of my walk here.  But, yesterday the choir director handed out the CDs for our Easter cantata, “My Utmost for His Highest”.    “Here, have a listen and I’ll hand out the music on Tuesday night,” he told us.

‘I’ll listen to this while I write,’ I reasoned.

But the music said “Oh, No!  You won’t!”

It started with bagpipes playing “I’d Rather Have Jesus”, made famous by George Beverly Shea from the Billy Graham Revivals.  Both men are near 100 years old, but when asked about their thoughts about life and faith, each one unequivocally affirmed their unshakable belief.  

The music continued and moved into the words of memorable Christians in years past:

Remember the Scottish missionary Eric Liddel who ran for English in the 1896 Olympics? Those memorable words about “God made me fast…”  He ran for the Gold medal, then moved out of the public eye.  He went to China where he served God until he died at a young age .

Remember Corrie Ten Boom?  She wrote The Hiding Place about her experiences in a death camp during World War Two.  While the writing told a riveting story of survival and faith, the book is mainly about faith and forgiveness.  Her own steps of forgiveness, and her steps to forgive the German guards who caused the death of her sister and many many others.

There were other voices whose names I did not know, but words were familiar.  The book written by  Oswald Chambers has reached out to Man in a way that humble pastor never anticipated.  Compiled after his death by his wife, My Utmost for His Highest, these devotions pull the reader into a closer relationship for God.  

 The voices heard on my CD each spoke of abandoning personal goals, and giving all to God.  Giving “My Utmost for His Highest”—can or do I do that?  Do I love God with such passion and selflessness that I can be used by Him to effect change in a harsh and corrupt world?

I have been negligent in shouting out "Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Light!  NO ONE comes to the Father, except through Jesus!"  So afraid of offending, afraid of confronting other beliefs.  So afraid I will have to summon courage to be what God wants me to be.

As we practice this cantata for Easter on April 8th, I will be asking that question daily.  I invite you to ask this question as well.

Friday, January 20, 2012

John Wayne  

Okay, what did you see when you read his name?  Did you picture him in some favorite movie?  Which one?  True Grit?  The Shootist?  Or, The Quiet Man?

We all have an image we form when we hear names, especially if the names are well-known and famous.  James Bond, Dirty Harry, Quickdraw McGraw…the list is endless.

Recently, the movie Rio Bravo was on a cable channel.  The cast was as follows:

The summary of the movie:
“A small-town sheriff in the American West enlists the help of a cripple, a drunk, and a young gunfighter in his efforts to hold in jail the brother of the local bad guy.”

As I watched it once more, this time I paid attention to the monikers. Dude.  Colorado.  Feathers.  Stumpy.  Life had to be interesting if those were one’s names.

Ricky Nelson’s character ‘Colorado’ had no life skills.  Not really good with a gun, he was ‘the kid’ who wanted to be bigger than life, as ‘Sheriff John T. Chance’ was huge.   He chose the name ‘Colorado’. 
This set me to wonder what name I would chose given the fact that I am a 60 yr. old retired school teacher with some extra pounds.

These were some choices:
Des Moines           Boise          Newark            Dubuque     or instead of cities,
Sourdough            Limburger   Blumenthal    Lentil        or, how about,
Lancet                   Boil             Incontinent    Salivate

Silly, I know.  But, what made me think is that the character’s names pre-established my perceptions of them.  Angie wouldn’t have come across well if her name was ‘Stumpy’, and Walter Brennan became ‘Dude’.  The character’s name is all important. 

Something to keep in mind in the crafting of a character in my writing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

...Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound...

One good or bad effect of having my type of migraines is that I have hyper sensitive senses.  Honest!  I can hear your thoughts even while you read this, and sense your doubt.  But it is true.

At the movies, my super sense of smell can tell me that the man in two rows behind me had pepperocini on his B.M.T. Subway sandwich.  That can be a good thing, or sometimes a bad thing

With my super sense of hearing, I can hear conversations when I really shouldn’t be able to hear them.  Factor in some ability in lip reading, well, it can be good or bad. 

Oh, Lindsay!  I wish I were more like you, in so many ways....
My hyper hearing recently gave me many moments of pleasure.

My husband and I recently took Sunshine to Wal-Mart for a quick shopping trip.  Wal-Mart is not a good place for me on so many levels:  the noise, the lighting, and Lord-please-help-me, the smells.  The cheese balls alone can send me into a spinning world. 

Given those facts, the trips to Wal-Mart must be hyper quick, in a run on a directed path. 

This time, Grandpa, Sunshine, and I were there to buy some sewing supplies.  It is a boring place for a kindergartner and a grandpa. 
Within minutes, Sunshine announced she was hungry. “There’s a McDonald’s here, did you see it, Grandpa?  And we could…”

Grandpa was ahead of her, and as they walked away, my super hearing heard a good portion of their conversation.  The important bits are here:

Sunshine: …blah, blah, blah, Happy Meal, blah, blah, diet Coke…
Grandpa: …blah, blah, blah, No, blah, blah, hamburger, blah, share a drink…
Sunshine: …But, Grandpa, blah, blah, blah, Happy Meal!...Toy, blah, blah…
Grandpa: …Blah, blah, No, Sunshine!...blah, blah,…a cheeseburger, then…
Sunshine: …blah! Blah! But, Grandma X. always lets me…Blah!
Grandpa: …blah, blah…Then nothing, okay?...
Sunshine: …blah…a cheeseburger, then…

The voices faded away, and I knew that I would find Sunshine glumly eating a cheeseburger, with a smiling Grandpa.  There would be no toy, or anything.

courtesy of
I didn’t need any super skills to see that one.  I know my husband.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Drama of Life

In looking for something, I found treasures…I think I have used that phrase before...anyway...

Well, not treasures exactly.  Journals from years ago, I found my journals. 

At times throughout life, I have kept one or more journals at any given time.  They would be filled with everything—a record of good and bad events, thoughts, and concerns.

In my childhood, there was nothing print-worthy happening in my opinion, so my journals-diaries were little snippets of drama.  A verruca wart on my foot was exaggerated to be a crippling illness.  That would then morph into life threatening.  To make the diary appear even more dramatic, I dribbled some cologne water over entries to create tear smears.  Oh, I was big on drama as a child, my father always maintained.

Drama must be part of life in one shape or another.  Falling in love, getting married, childbirth—those are darned dramatic.  I have photos to prove it!

But, the little dramas, the ones that are interspersed on a daily basis?  Now, those are the stuff of life. 

Losing one’s car keys?  Not drama.  Standing in line at Starbuck’s behind an elderly couple holding hands?  That’s drama.  Their whole life was played out before me in simple gestures, soft looks, few words, and even their order. 

She had “…the decaf coffee with vanilla syrup…not too much, now…and room for creamer…”  He had the “…full-strength stuff, and …NO, I will not have decaf instead….”  See?  There lays a whole one act play, filled to the brim with drama, leaving a little room for cream:  “…leave room for cream…you have real cream, dontcha? Not that fake stuff they call creamer…”

See what I mean?  Real drama.  I wanted to follow them to a table, but my order was ‘to go’.  Who knows what I missed? 

Those journals will have months!  months, I tell you, of future postings.  I can feel the drama vibrating through the cardboard covers.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Oh, the days of college....

"What should I do?  What career should I pursue?"

Going away to college…just writing the words hauls up the memories of anticipation and excitement.   
Since 8th grade I had been planning for college.  My future career changed frequently, depending on what book I was reading at the time.  One day I would decide to be a nurse, after reading the biography of Florence Nightengale.  The next day I wanted to be a doctor, after reading about Louis Pasteur. 

With college, the options opened wide for a farm girl from an isolated rural area.

I still can sense the nervousness of signing up for classes and planning the schedule.  Buying the books was a shock; $28 for one textbook!  Can you imagine! 

But those years are long past.  I have taken many post-graduate courses, bought many textbooks ($150 for one textbook!).  Even now, when the local community college course catalog arrives, I find myself looking through it with that same sense of excitement.

But things have changed, as the needs of life change.  The course titles for my group are very different.

Take note of the recent classes for the workforce and community development:

*Let’s make a bikini!

*Backyard chickens!

*Mastering the 

*Tie-Dye, parts 1, 2, and 3!

*What Were You Born to Do?!  Find out!

*Be Forever Stress-Free with EFT!

There are, of course, other courses for vocation and career changes.  Those courses will be invaluable to the younger generation seeking careers and such.  But, for me?  A person who lists "writer" as an occupation?

Somehow, I am drawn to “Mastering the Bandsaw!”

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What You Don't See Is...

Courtesy of

It is easy to be invisible.

These words occurred to me on a day when my head hurt so badly that I could barely speak or socialize with the family gathered on Christmas Day.

If I sat quietly and did not say anything, I could disappear into the noise of my gregarious and outgoing Irish family.  I realized that I frequently do just that.

This not-so-unique idea extended to others like me.  People who suffer from silent, not obvious illnesses become invisible, just as I do. 

Fibromyalgia?  Oh, what’s that?  The invisibility curtain drops.
CFS? Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?  Oh, I think I heard about that 20 years ago.  Down comes the curtain.
RA?  Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Alcoholism?  You're in AA?
Addiction to what?
It is so easy, so very easy, to hear these words.  However, because the person speaking them looks “just fine”, it is amazingly easy to shuttle them aside.

I once suffered a serious injury in which the tendons of my right elbow were almost torn from the bone.  I was told by the doctor that it would have been much better if I had simply broken the elbow. 

The problem with no cast or obvious scars, no one realized how serious the injury was.  I looked “just fine”, even though in constant pain. 

It is easy to become invisible.  Just ask anyone.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Who ARE these people? Part 2

My maternal great-great-great grandmother
My maternal grandfather

I was privileged to grow up in a small rural community where the extended family was involved in my life.  My mother’s parents lived fifteen miles from our farm.  My father’s widowed mother lived down the street. 

Sometimes life in such an enclosed world gives one the chance to look at ‘both sides of the coin’ simultaneously. 

On my other blog site today, I am posting the second side of the coin, or my mother’s side of the family. 

Please go there to see that post, if you could.  Photos tell so much more than words sometimes. Please take a peek at that site today (or anytime:).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

As Seen from the Crest of the Hill

The car parked next to the field, and the man opened the door.  Two dogs leaped out, tails wagging and gratitude expressed in every muscle.  The man motioned toward the green field and those dogs took off.

They flew.  The big black retriever ate up the ground with his long strides.  The black and white Border collie glided along the grass behind the bigger dog.  They bounded and rolled with each other, taking turns in the chase, and stopping reluctantly at their owner’s whistle.

The owner held a bright tennis ball, and the dogs lay at his feet in anticipation.  He teased them some, but then lofted the ball far off into the field.

The retriever burst into a full run, hind legs pushing off and front legs leaping forward.  He was fast and soon found the ball.

all photos courtesy of
Behind him ran the collie.  He had run his best and his fastest, but short legs never beat long legs.  Laws of physics demand consistency.

Again, they waited for the owner’s throw.  Again they raced each other to the ball.  Again, the retriever trotted back with the ball in his mouth, head high and tail waving from side to side.  He dropped the dripping ball at the man’s feet and looked up expectantly for the next throw.
Happy, happy, happy!  I'm so happy....

This time the collie didn’t return to the owner.  Instead, the wee black and white dog stopped half-way, and waited.
In your face, big dog!

The owner sent the ball off into the field.  The collie watched it go overhead, and ran with it, seeing it land in a patch of sea grass.  He plucked it from its perch, and trotted back.  Coming to a braking stop is hard for a locomotive retriever; he rolled head over tail, just as the perky collie carried the ball to the man.

The collie played the game well, getting to the ball first time after time.  The retriever poured on the power, ran his big dog heart out, but lost.  Finally the retriever gave up, and lay down. 

The man whistled and the dogs climbed into the open car door.  They moved slowly, but the retriever moved the slowest of all.

(Observations on a breezy ocean day: 2008)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Possible Writing Titles

Writers have gotten creative with the titles.  The movies have joined in. 

Showing at theaters this week are multi-word titles that use colons and sometimes even hyphens:

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Alvin and the Chipmunks:  Chipwrecked
Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows
The Twilight Saga:  Breaking Dawn – part 2

This titles-with-colons-and-explanations trend spurred a list of book titles in my little pink notebook that I keep on my nightstand.  NOW, it is possible that these titles are silly due to my general peculiarities, or to the sleeping (herbal) meds I take, or even the non-herbal meds. 

Just bear with me while I list my possible (and highly improbable) new book projects:

Riveting Tales of Menopause:  One Woman’s Struggle with Sanity
Dark Halls:  The Post-Christmas Laundry Avalanche
Frozen Depths:  The Mystery of the Mixed Vegetables
The Not Shining:  The Missing Batteries
When Polyester Attacks:  Hot Flashes
The Loneliness of the Channel Surfer:  The Late Night Hours
To Tweet or Not To Tweet:  That Is the Question
Living Large: The Upsurge of Elastic Waists
Who Turned the Heat Up:  Guilty?
The Missing Remote:  Who Used It Last?

Silly, I know.
 But, I ask you:  Why Not? 
Again:  Why the Heck Not?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Samuel and Christmas Day

Christmas morning dawned with the doorbell ringing.  When the Old Church door opened, gift laden relatives gushed into the house. 

Taken by surprise, Samuel was swept up in the flood by Aunt Tammy.  Having no spit, vomit, mucous, or gas to give her as his own gift, Samuel improvised.  He balled up his fist and bonked her square on the nose.  Just for you, Tammy Whammy.

The result was spectacular as blood poured.  Nana grabbed Samuel before he could be dropped, and said, “Good grief, Tammy.”  A sparkle in Nana’s eyes told him that he had done well.

The flood carried Samuel to the Christmas tree, where a lone cookie lay on the plate.  Samuel shook his head. No sense of adventure?  Disappointed, Samuel stuffed the cookie in his mouth, raisin and all.

The gift opening frenzy began.  Present after present came at Samuel.  He scarcely had time to tear off the paper before The Daddy took the box away and gutted it for the toy inside.  Not the box!  Don’t hurt the box!

When the box was heaved onto a growing mound, Samuel glared at The Daddy.   Dammit, man!  Have you lost all touch with your inner child?

With the last gift unwrapped, the adults wandered around.

Samuel was lost in a sea of knees, a crowd of crotches. 

He found his way to the cat cage, where Ginger hunkered down.  Move over, cat.  I’m coming in.

Ginger snarled.  Get your own, kid.  This is mine.

Samuel sighed.  The mound of boxes looked promising.  Inspired, Samuel found the large microwave box and pushed it down the hall.  It was a monumental effort.

Arriving at Grammy’s guest room, Samuel moved the box to the open closet.  He climbed inside, tucked his thumb in his mouth, and dropped off to sleep.

Hours later, The Mommy found him after a frantic search.

In the wrapping paper clean up, Santa’s letter lay sadly unnoticed.  It read, Nice try, Samuel.  I will see you next year. the R. S. aka Santa