1800's Farmhouse where I grew up

Monday, December 19, 2011

Greeting Cards Have all Been Sent...

Although I have stories to tell, and things to share with friends and family alike, I have found the events of this fall ( concussion, bronchitis, sinus infection, WORK) have left me short on time and energy.  Good thoughts and prayers are being kept close to my heart for all of you who touch my life, as I hope I have touched yours.

Wishing you all an Advent Season of unexpected miracles, warmth, and the reminder that love came down at Christmas.  Feliz Navidad!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a lot like....

CHRISTMAS!
As the carols have hit the airwaves and calendar days are being X'd out, counting the days til that jolly old elf decends the chimney, I am caught up in the hustle and bustle of decorating, shopping, wrapping, and planning. Between these activities I am required to go to my place of employment, which really puts a damper on the whole holiday affair.  Christmas is a SEASON, not a day. It is a FEELING, it is FAITH, it is WELCOMING.  It is also a time for remembering.  Tonight I will light a candle in remembrance of a special young man, taken from his family and friends much to early.  I will light the candle for Stevie and for all of the children who have been lost to this world too soon. I will remember the impact their short lives have had upon those they loved.

Today is World Wide Children's Remembrance Day. In countries, cities, towns, and homes across the world, candles will be lit from 7-8 PM, in one time zone after another, lighting the way of those lost to us for a full 24 hours. A show of faith and compassion, touching the heart and offering healing to those who have lost a child.
Dearest Lor...my candle will shine for you.

A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Falling for Autumn

Summer 2011 was a summer of extremes for much of the world.  Hurricanes, droughts, earthquakes, heat waves, tsunamis and record rainfall to name a few.  It makes one pause to consider the 2012 predictions. Scientifically, increased storms and changing climate and weather patterns are reported to be a symptom of global warming...caused by man made sources or as natural warming patterns throughout the world. Regardless of the cause, it does seem to be happening.  In a county nearby here in PA, residents were evacuated from rising creeks and rivers three times in three weeks.  Water can be serene, or powerfully destructive.  It certainly demands deliberation over where to live these days.  It is gratifying to feel somewhat safe in the mountains...or at least it was until the VA earthquake shook us all!  I have decided to continue to find joy in every day, in home, family, God, and nature.  Living in doubt or fear is no way to live at all.
My focus now is creating the homey atmosphere that envelops you in its warmth as you cross the threshold. I am over summer and all its weather, and falling for the gift of autumn and its cooler temps and blazing colors. 
Each season casts a spell of its own, but for me, fall into Christmas is my time to embrace nature and enhance my home with country accents, indoors and out.
Here's hoping you also fall for autumn!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Sunday, August 28, 2011

GOODNIGHT Irene

Winds over 50mph
5+ inches of rain
Power out 17 hours
Flooded roads and basements
First day of school CANCELLED!
And finally....Irene departing Pennsylvania.....

GOING....GOING...GOING...


GONE!!!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Hurricane Cometh

Clearing the deck and battening down the hatches....Irene is on her way! More to come.....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The END

Today marks the last day of summer vacation for teachers in my district.  I have absolutely NO IDEA where those carefree days went. Too few gone too soon. A brief 24 hour visit to my daughter Sunday was the bittersweet end to road trips and time away from the everyday of home.  As the university she works for ( and who I believe is LUCKY to have her!) returned to classes yesterday, the norm of schedules and intellectual pursuits begin. And so does FOOTBALL!  My husband, as I write, is experiencing his first scrimmage of the year, determined to find success on the gridiron that has eluded his group of freshman of late.
Tomorrow I will be back in my normal routine, and once again don the watch I refused to wear for the lazy days of summer.  I will pack my lunch like I did as a student, and thankfully drive to school in the warm rays of the rising sun. That too shall end.
Here's to new beginnings, to fall, to football, and to the students who are the critical factors in stories to be told for years to come.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Short List

As the summer begins winding down, my long list of activities, chores, projects and trips meant to fill the short 2 months has barely been touched.  I have spent the past two rainy days painting trim in my kitchen, knowing full well it will remain half painted for the holidays if I do not complete it by Labor Day weekend. Of course, school begins even before that date, so this is a luxury to sit for a few minutes and get myself back in blog mode.
I think my list of what I didn't accomplish is longer than what I was able to actually scratch off that list.  The funny thing is...I don't care!!  I slept in, stayed up late, didn't wear a watch all summer, spent most days barefoot in the garden and by the pool, and it was well worth NOT getting through my list.
I say YAY for me!  Life is short, and sticking to my short list of relaxing time with family and friends trumps all those projects any day!
Enjoy the last dog days of summer, I know I will!

A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Technical Difficulties

It has been a summer of technical difficulties, and I am currently without a reliable internet signal.  This has been an ongoing issue but I hope to be up and running again when school starts.  Sadly, that day is right around the corner. I found my first fall leaf, in all its red and yellow glory, in the backyard today. 

It both saddened and gave me joy, as fall is truly a spectacular season when you are tucked amidst mountains and trees.  Thank you for your patience and warm thoughts.
I'll be BACK!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Amish Country

As little tykes, my kids loved family trips to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to not only visit the Amish but to throw themselves wholeheartedly into their lifestyle.  Of course, at seven, adopting the Amish lifestyle for my daughter meant wearing a bonnet with her t-shirt, sneakers, and shorts, and taking a buggy ride behind a somewhat aromatic equine. Not the traditional garb of this religious sect, but her excitement was palpable, and she was a sponge soaking up the local color and customs.  My son, on the other hand, was topped off with a railroad workers cap, as his love of the country was tied to the railroad in Strasburg.

My husband and I returned to our idyllic vacation spot alone recently, to find the area has been built up considerably, catering to tourists, some who seem to view the Amish lifestyle like a foreign venue at Epcot Center.  These are real people with real beliefs and real customs, not teens and college students hired to portray someone at a theme park. I really think people tend to forget this fact.  Personally, I will not take pictures or interfere in any way with the daily activities of this sect, which caused me to react with surprise when an Amish woman driving a buggy waved to me when I stopped to let her pass.
Regardless, it remains a beautiful area, and for the country nuts like myself, the shopping couldn't be more rewarding! 
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lighten UP!

The sun is a little brighter today, and my step is a little lighter.  I spent some time on my first day away from school to walk around my yard and "just smell the roses", although roses are one type of plant of which I am not a fan. They are beautiful, I concede, but the scent is too much for me and there is a formality to the blooms that do not fit into my lifestyle.
Easy, beezy, and yes, beautiful... is my goal for turning my winter dreary home into my summer oasis. Plant by plant the conception I have of a calm summer retreat takes shape, first in my mind and then in dirt and furniture arrangements.  The serene blue pool, trickling bird baths, colorful plants, palms and ferns swaying in the breeze...HEAVEN!
The only place I find greater serenity is at the BEACH, where I can leave the daily tasks that must be done to upkeep my little home oasis ...well, at home!
My deck is now nearly transformed into a place I intend to spend the majority of my summer in peace, both reading and writing, thinking and praying, enjoying private time as well as time with family and friends. 
It's time to kick back and lighten up.
Ahhh SUMMERRRRRR!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Monday, June 6, 2011

STRUGGLING

My posts of late have gone from slim to none...and I apologize to my faithful readers who look to me for some funny anecdote or an inspirational story that is worth their time reading.  Truth is, between end of the year activities, changes in Mom's care, some issues with other loved ones, and a complete lack of inspiration due to all I have mentioned, I have stopped pressuring myself and refused to feel guilty for not posting daily as I have in the past. But I miss it.
There are many days that life gets to you, and tried and true ways of relieving stress come to the rescue. Sometimes, though, the rut one is in becomes a real depression....and it takes more than blogging to set my corner of the world right again.  There are just times where I realize that these days have all melded into YEARS of caring for Mom and her situation at the nursing home. That is not meant to be read as a complaint, just an observation of the reality.  Either way it has become a struggle.
Struggling to get up for school in the morning, struggling to make myself exercise and eat right, struggling to make the world right for students who have found it to be so wrong for them, struggling to be there for others when I feel no one is here for me, compounded by struggling to make myself take that daily walk through fumes from urine and excrement, and face the lined, sad faces of those forgotten by their loved ones.  Recently it's all been a struggle.
My woe-is-me, self-pity-party has me realizing I am facing some depression right now and need to step up and out in taking care of MYSELF for a change. This is one of the hardest things a mother and caregiver has to do. We are not wired to put ourselves first or take time from others to fulfill our own needs. BUT, it is much needed.  A necessity of life that can, for me, no longer be ignored.  Truth is, Mom could live to be 93 as did her own mother.  She is now 82.  I don't want to look back on the time I had with her and regret NOT seeing her frequently. I also don't want to look back at years of my own life lost to the oblivion of Alzheimer's that Mom is now facing....hers OR mine... should that be my life sentence.
For now, I am praying I reach June 17th with an element of style, compassion for my students, and a few marbles still intact.
I need summer. I have a book to write and a beach to visit.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Time Flies

As the school year winds down I find myself short on time to do the things I WANT to do, in favor of doing things I HAVE to do.  Not that the "have tos" are things I dislike. Picnics, parties, awards ceremonies. Tragically they all come with extra calories in the form of celebratory foods that have caused me to "find" about 7 pounds I thought I had misplaced back in the fall!
I have a student who struggles with never having enough time to complete the things that are important, surprisingly... including school work. We have put our heads together to find a workable solution to the fact that sometimes time just FLIES. It is a hard concept for a child living within the autism spectrum, but something that we are managing none the less.

Today I am the one who is struggling with the fact that time does indeed fly, and always when we need it most.  It also flies when you aren't looking and find a school year nearly behind you.
Sadly, I already anticipate summer vacation flying even faster, but for now will do my best to live in the moment and enjoy each passing minute.
I hope you do too.


A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Special Day

Today was our county's Special Olympics event.  The day initially threatened rain, with a fine mist and drizzle making the stadium bleachers slick and too wet to sit on.  It could not, however, dampen the spirits of the contestants and buddies who came to celebrate life, or the winning spirits of so many kids who...from many people's standards...had been cheated in life.
The group of excited, smiling, and dedicated special athletes demonstrated so much more class and passion for their scheduled track and field events than I have seen among many in the general high school population in some time.  The truth is, these kids have not been cheated. They have embraced their challenges, they have overcome so many obstacles, and they have won hearts and loyalty from so many volunteers. 
They are loved. It is something of a mirror image love, reflecting back to them as they shine on all of us. Their hearts are pure. No animosity, no jealousy, no bitterness. So many demonstrate an unequivocally, unconditional love we know only for our children, or receive from our pets.  Watching a young man sprint for 50 yards, struggling before reaching the finish line, only to find a burst of energy to cross victorious, and fling himself into his mother's arms was heartwarming.
There were many moments of blurred vision as my eyes teared at the accomplishments and pride shown by these hardworking young men and women.  The entire crowd celebrated with each success, devoted entirely to making the day both memorable and fulfilling.
I know it was for me.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Voted

ELECTION DAY....
    Exercising my right to VOTE!



A warm AMERICAN country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Monday, May 16, 2011

Three Mondays

My sanity is SCREAMING for summer...no more 5AM wake ups, no more rushed 20 minute lunches where I am LATE if I actually chew.  My head is DREAMING of poolside lounging, gardening at my leisure, and going out for ice cream. My heart is ACHING for time to read, spending time with my lonely pets, and actually seeing the man I married.
A sense of completion and certainly of relief will envelop me in a few longggg weeks, when I am able to say goodbye to students for the summer.  Remaining are three Mondays, five Tuesdays, five Wednesdays, five Thursdays, and four Fridays if my count down to summer is correct.  The weeks will undoubtedly fly by as the individual days drag on.  I love my kids...don't get me wrong...but this millennium's added responsibilities and standardized stress create a need for the summer break I remember being paramount in my choice of teaching as a profession!

I most obviously have "senioritis" right along with our graduating class.  I think I do every year, even when I worked at the intermediate and middle school levels.  The difference is, the seniors are leaving for good, heading out into a world we can only hope we have adequately prepared them for in this era of joblessness and economic uncertainty. My heart bleeds for those who face the prospect of unemployment, the improbability of being able to leave home soon, or the lack of funds for spiraling college education costs. Our governor has personally destroyed the hopes of many hoping/praying/desiring to further their education.  My own two master's candidates will be paying for the privilege for years to come.
Regardless of future prospects, we ARE all ready for there to be only thee more Mondays....and a whole lot of summer!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Get Your Grow On

Warm weather has finally broken the 70 degree barrier, and with Mother's Day weekend over, it is time to plant and get things growing.  Mt goal for the summer...to create my own little oasis in the backyard that I can retreat to whenever life gets me down, or just because school will be out and I CAN!  With so much to do I plan to enlist my daughter, who has a wealth of good ideas and jumps on my bandwagon with a hearty, "Do it!"
This weekend she is coloring her apartment balcony with flowers, pretty pots, and cozy candle lanterns to create her own little piece of heavenly privacy in a complex filled with hundreds of people.  At most, it may be 40 square feet, so when her ideas and energy become to big for her space, I will happily scoop up the excitement that remains and use her creativity and muscles for my own masterpiece.  Devious? Maybe, but we will both enjoy it immensely and then be able to sit back and revel in our accomplishments.
Today's drizzle and rain checks only on mulch at the home improvement chain allowed me to do very little to get my oasis started.  Some impatiens and coleus made it either into the ground or a pot, along with already blooming geraniums and spike plants.
It's a start. The Black Eyed Susan's I want to add in honor of my mom Susan will have to wait a few weeks until they reach the plant stands.
There is also a small pond..no fish...in the game plan that my husband is trying his best to nix.  How complicated can a pond with only water and rocks be to care for?!  I tend to see adding flower beds, expanding areas of mulch, and yes adding ponds as LESS work ( AKA mowing) for my hubby.  He just doesn't see it that way.
As the next few days bring rain and wash the pollen from the air, trees, and my burgundy-turned-green car, I will sit back and dream up some idyllic elements to the retreat I want to build.  Like most projects, it will be ongoing, but I still plan to steal some moments to kick back and relax. To enjoy the scenery and my labor of love.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Roadtrip

Mother + Daughter + BEACH = One great Mother's Day Weekend!

The best gift ever is time spent with those we love.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Did Something Right

I have done many things in my lifetime.  I have shot game winning baskets playing BBall. I have received awards. I have sung solos. I have helped the needy. I have planted gardens. I have run miles. I have prayed and reflected and wondered at this world.
The BEST thing I have ever done, however, is to bring two very wonderful children into this world. Two little miracles, who taught me how to be a mother.  There was no instruction book. Just the tug of tiny fisted hands on my heart strings that helped me to instinctively know what and how and when to do things.
My two little miracles are now young adults making an impact on this world. With hopes, and dreams, and helping hands that once held mine so tightly.
They grew by leaps and bounds, through scraped knees, first days of school, and college graduations... into who they are today.
I am blessed to not only love my kids, but to also LIKE them, and find that friendship is now central to our relationship.
Here's to the children. Our own flesh and blood, or those chosen by love through adoption, who allow us the honor of being called Mom, Mommy, and Mum.
Here's to our little miracles.
Here's to mothers everywhere.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"I Have Something in my Pocket

That belongs across my face"...  As this old girl scout song goes, "take it out and put it on, it's a great big brownie smile!  I clearly remember singing this little ditty when I was a brownie. Complete with brown dress, little brown socks, and that adorable but awkward beanie we were required to wear not only to meetings, but to school on those days. I am sure our parents thought we all looked absolutely adorable. (Not!)

Scouting had its rewards, and some mighty fine cookies. The reason I mentioned the smile song, though, is because I realized this morning it is a fact that your day truly does go better when you put a smile on your face and let it lighten your mood.  I have a morning duty at school monitoring the main entrance doors, watching the zombie like teens enter and shuffle their tired feet to homeroom each morning.  I am usually as tired as they are due to a 5 am wake up and sunless drive to school. It is hard to be awake and energetic enough for both myself and the kids.
There are those souls who respond to a cheery "good morning" and a welcoming smile.  I have been attempting to "take it out and put it on" each morning in greeting.  I have noticed that the few, the happy, the wide awake have been consistent responders to my bright greetings.  I have also noticed returned smiles.  It is as contagious as a yawn.
As the year winds down and the students sleepwalk their way into summer, I am happy I have had an impact on the start of their days.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Monday, May 2, 2011

And I Cried Again

We all remember where we were on the morning of 9/11....the graphic details that were broadcast are certainly burned into my brain.  I was in a fifth grade social studies class, watching in horror as the first, and then the second plane crashed into the twin towers.  In a room full of ten year olds, most of whom did not grasp the enormity or reality of the news, it was difficult to remain calm and reassuring for those who did understand.  The tears of a ten year old whose parent worked in the north tower caused my own eyes to tear when I was trying so hard to continue the day's schedule as though nothing had happened.
We will now all remember where we were on the morning of 5/2....the graphic details that were broadcast are again burned into my brain.  I was in State College, just 2 miles from the throng of 5,000 jubilant and emotional students and residents who took to the streets at midnight to celebrate the news that Osama bin Laden was taken down.  The song "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" came into my head, causing me to half laugh/half cry as the new enormity of the day hit home.
On 9/11 my neighbor Mary met Christ along with some 3,000
others who were lost to us on that fateful day. She left behind four sons, the youngest just starting 2nd grade.  I have watched those boys grow into young men, and the 2nd oldest join the Marines to fight for right in a world gone so wrong. Mary must be so proud to see the difference he has made for so many on 3 tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.  He has done it not only for the love of country, but the love of his mother.
I cried again today. At the sad memories, in pure astonishment, relief, disbelief, a sense of patriotism swelling my heart as crowds across this great country waved flags and belted out "God Bless America". 
I prayed again today. For the service men and women, for the families who lost so much, for the friends, teachers, neighbors, and all of us who knew we couldn't change anything, but wanted to help anyway to pick up the pieces.
Tomorrow the sun will rise and set again as usual. But the world is not the same.  We are all a little wiser, and hopefully much more grateful for what we have and who we love.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nonagenarian Extraordinaire

I have missed my time of late to sit down and ruminate over recent events, or some old but heartwarming stories. A little oral surgery for a broken tooth, and plans to celebrate my father in law, who is now 90 years young, have occupied my time and mind.  As a matter of fact, the dental emergency over shadowed the party planning, and I am now ready to go into full swing panic.
The goodies are bought and the menu is set, but it's too early to cook OR clean. Throw another unrelated and scheduled-forever-ago doctor appointment into the mix...the day before the festivities, and I foresee a college style all- nighter of cooking, cleaning, and set up for Saturday.  I am thanking God right now for the blessing of a daughter who is willing to drive 3 hours to hold her dear old mom's hand and help with the last minute preparations.  How extremely smart my genes were to create such a wonderful daughter and best friend. Love you Kates!
The birthday boy, John Sr., who is symptomatic of short term memory loss after several small strokes, is thrilled to be the guest of honor a the celebration. At least he is when he is reminded there will BE a party!  Relatives, friends, and his 90 year old girlfriend will also be present to most likely roast the man who touched all of their lives in so many different ways.
He is a father and grandfather, a former Marine Raider, husband, coach, teacher, and general ball buster.  It amazes me how many lives he has touched, and the strong, intelligent, compassionate...irritating, annoying...way he immerses himself into your life.  He is loved and lovable, respected and respectful, playful as well as strict, and selflessly served our country so well during WWII.  We will all live and die free due to the time he (and others) spent putting their lives on the line all over the world for those ideals.
So here's to Corporal John, Farfar/Morfar, BBF, Coach Finelli. 

HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Everything is NEW Again

HAPPY EASTER!!!!    
Here's to believing in new life, in resurrection, and in bursting into spring with renewed energy, hope, and passion for what life has to offer.
Everything old is new again....enjoy!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

I have always wondered why today is called GOOD Friday, when in fact we commemorate a very sad day in our Christian heritage.  I tried to do a little research on the matter, just out of curiosity, and found no definitive answer.  The Bible actually states that Christ died on a Wednesday, which complicates the whole Friday thing even more.  As a kid I thought Jesus died on a Friday, because, in essence, that is what I thought I was being taught.
As an adult, I am finding I now have more questions than answers to most of life's mysteries, and have come to the conclusion that believing in the unseen, and trusting in something bigger than ourselves is a matter of heart more than mind.  I remember days as a child that I would TRY to contemplate the idea of a Universe that goes on forever. It literally gave me headaches trying to wrap my mind around the idea that there is no end.  The mind likes concrete answers. The heart instead soars to higher plains.
You can't see love, but it can be felt in outstretched arms, a gentle touch, and a heart bursting with affection. A heart doesn't physically "break", but the pain of loss is very real.  The point is we are merely human, and not meant to know or understand all of creation. At least that's an answer I can live with for now.
I hope everyone has a GOOD Friday.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Egg on Your Face

With Easter week in full swing, egg hunts are scheduled everywhere.  Our church has a tradition of hosting an Easter Egg Hunt the day before Easter for all the young and young at heart in our congregation.  When my kids were little, the youth group of the church hosted the hunt, gathering early in the day to color and hide hundreds of eggs on the church property. 
When Katie was about 3, she was pretty quick for a toddler from all the practice she got chasing after her older brother and the boys on the block.  She was very successful that year, filling her Easter basket with both candy-filled plastic eggs, as well as the real thing, decorated in pretty pastel colors by the youth group.
On the way home, both she and her brother helped themselves to their baskets of goodies in the back seat of the car.
As I was driving I listened to them ooing and ahhing over their finds, counting to see who found the most eggs.  Nearing home, I heard the first crack of an egg. My kids had been taught by their grandfather how to crack eggs on their foreheads before peeling and eating them. I thought this was harmless fun, provided the "crack" on the head was not too hard! I had not anticipated another problem that could occur.
After she had cracked the egg on her head, Katie began crying. Adjusting the rear view mirror to see her scrunched up and crying little face, I had to stop the laugh that burst from my very core. My little girl was covered from the top of her little head to the bottom of her little chin in gooey, dripping, raw egg.   She was startled and obviously mortified. Her brother and I were clearly amused as we tried to comfort and clean her.
Apparently one of our wonderful youth group members was unaware the eggs he brought should have been HARD BOILED before they were colored.  At church Easter morning we were able to track down the youth and share our egg in the face story.  He was apologetic, but like me had found the humor in the situation.
Katie laughs now too, but at 3....not so much. Regardless, it is a cherished Easter story for our family.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hello Harvey

For several days last week, my husband was doing his best to convince me he had seen the Easter Bunny.  While, as a child, I had never stopped to think what the Easter Bunny might look like, the one my husband purported to see was white. All white, albino to be precise, with pink ears and pink eyes.  Now I KNOW that's not the kind of rabbit you see in the wild, so I was convinced he was playing with me.
Nevertheless, each time he yelled to me that the white rabbit was outside our window, I would go running to look.  It was never there by the time I arrived, if it ever had been in the first place.  My husband is an aficionado of old movies, and a fan of Jimmy Stewart.  It's a Wonderful Life just may be his all time favorite movie, whether he watches at Christmas, or in the middle of summer.  This is not the movie that came to mind, however, whenever the white rabbit was "sighted". I instead thought of Harvey, another Stewart film, where he is befriended/stalked by a man size white rabbit. Whether it was Stewart or the rabbit that was called Harvey, I have no idea. It is definitely the name my husband was stuck with for that week, though.
After days of playing hide and seek with a very clever rabbit, I refused to be suckered into whatever game my husband was playing anymore.  Relaxing on the couch before dinner one night, I got a phone call from my husband who I knew had JUST pulled into the driveway. I answered anyway, and was told he couldn't park because the white bunny was in his way. Laughing I went to the window, expecting him to give me one of those "got you!" faces, only to see a pure white rabbit with pink ears and eyes sitting in the drive.
My husband had been truthful the entire time!
Following the moments where I had to admit I was wrong and he was right, John called neighbors to see if someone was missing a white rabbit. None were, but he gathered more Intel that not one, but TWO white rabbits had been spotted in the yard a few houses up from us. The couple was nesting under our neighbor's deck.
Chances are, someone's pet rabbit had broken out and had gone over to the wild side.  A country neighbor...who lives a few miles away....shared that his own white rabbits had escaped just a year before, and he had seen evidence of white-meets-wild in baby bunnies popping up in the area.  Hybrid white and tan mixed rabbits now populate our immediate vicinity.
It is nice to know my husband is not always trying to fool me, and that "Harvey" does exist.
Hoppy Easter Week!!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Memories of My Life

Growing up with a mother who was sometimes organized, sometimes not, I learned some very important lessons about planning and being organized....from my dad!  Seriously though, Mom had a unique way of journaling and record keeping that I used when my children were small. Everyone keeps SOME kind of calendar. Mom's was covered in writing, recording everything from appointments, to bell due dates, to which days someone had called or stopped over.
As a young mother I had little time for journaling, and quickly fell into Mom's footsteps with calendar diaries. I too would record daily activities, phone numbers, and sometimes even predicted weather when a trip was coming up. ALWAYS I recorded my children's milestones, school, and social events.  It became MY diary family life. Somewhere in the attic there is a box of these old calendars. They are all from when my kids were young, and it seemed more important to write down everything to keep our collective and separate schedules in order. 
When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and we began boxing up her house and life piece by piece, I found her most recent calendar, still scribbled with the daily notations she had used for so very long. "Lisa called", "Katie's birthday", "visit from Lisa and family".  We remained her life and love long into the diseased moments that stole her memories.
As I am spring cleaning and going through items that should have long since left our house and closets, I stumbled upon old checks that needed shredding.  One in particular caught my eye, made out to The Official Star Wars Fan Club.  My son, still a Star Wars fan, joined when he was 12 or so. I had forgotten. There are so many memories we tuck deep to keep forever safe, but forget to remember if we don't bring them out every once in a while.
I plan to resume my Calendar Diary, so that when it is my children's turn to box my things, they are reminded also of the family life, loves, and activities we all shared....and SMILE.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

PS They have added LOL to the dictionary.  I think journaling should be added also. VERB: to write in a journal (or calendar!)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Forgive you

A precious, little baby girl was baptized in our church today. Surrounded by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and two very proud new "big" brothers, she was quietly taking in the sacrament, making a sound only when blessed and washed clean with the water.  As members of the church, we are charged with seeing to the religious up-bringing of any child receiving baptism in our sanctuary. In essence, we are ALL the God-parents.
My first child received his baptism at my husband's former Presbyterian run prep-school, by the headmaster, who was an ordained minister.  It was such a special day, with warm weather, family, and God's presence in our midst at the outdoor ceremony. 
Our youngest's baptism was more traditional, performed in the church we still belong to, where she screamed through much of the liturgy and blessing, prompting some to suggest she join the choir and "sing" with me.  Today's celebration of baptism made me remember these blessed days fondly.
It also made me contemplate the concept of love and forgiveness.  We are all human. We all make mistakes.  It is much too easy to succumb to being judge and jury, or to indulge ourselves in the presumption that it is even our job or right to judge others, especially if we condemn others more harshly than ourselves in being accountable for our own wrong-doing.
Baptism washes away the sins of the flesh, leaving our souls, and hearts open to hearing God, and having a life that reflects the love He has for us...and the best He created in us. 
I know this. I have taught this to both my children and to those I have instructed in Sunday school. Unfortunately, we forget we need reminding of this, to reaffirm the promise regularly, and more importantly, to apply it to our lives on a daily basis.
I believe in my baptism, and because I am blessed as a child of God, I believe in second chances, in forgiveness, and in new life.  God has given us an avenue to move forward from heartache, failure, and sin. By this I am not only blessed, but grateful.
Life is too short to hold onto dark moments or memories.  My choice is to say "I forgive you".
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Friday, April 8, 2011

Comfort

Fuzzy blankets, sleeping in, kick-back slippers, mashed potatoes, puppy hugs, hot tea, a baby sleeping on your chest bear hugs (from people), amazing grace, rich milk chocolate, over-sized sweatshirts, a roaring fire, the sound of RAIN on the roof, scripture, homemade chocolate chip cookies, forgiveness, a hot bath (with bubbles), favorite songs, being tucked in, a shoulder to lean on, staycations, someone to hold your hand, the smell of a new baby, dancing in the arms of the one you love, hugs and kisses XOXO, peace....family.

A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In-tent

My family has never officially taken a camping trip together. As a child I was a girl scout and "camped" on occasion; the most memorable being INSIDE a recreation center with running water, a kitchen, and (sometimes) working plumbing. The most camp-like feel to that trip was cooking one meal over a fire outside to earn a badge.
Tents, nevertheless,  have been a fascination for my kids since childhood. Who doesn't love the opportunity to cocoon oneself in a homemade or pre-constructed tent, to hide from the world, while telling scary stories, and making inventive flashlight shadow animals on the tent walls?
We graduated from a military looking tannish-green "pup" tent my husband had as a child, to a larger nylon pop-up variety as my kids feet began sticking out of the other...along with their father's. That tent provided space for my daughter to have birthday or summer sleepovers, with her girlfriends packed in like sardines. I can still hear the echoes of the screams and giggles that emanated from the zippered enclosure, or the stage- whispered "shusssshhh"es of the girls ransacking the kitchen for food when they thought I was asleep. Let's face it, who could sleep? No one slept on those nights, but a great deal of fun was had by all.
There was one specific tent that never made it from plans to completion. It was to have been a tepee,  constructed from the trunks of small hybrid elms we had removed from our property line.  My husband and I fashioned the framework, lashing the poles together into the traditional conical shape, awaiting the sheets to be sewn together by a neighbor child's mother, and then painted as the Native Americans might have done.

As summer cooled to fall, those poles stood erect in our backyard, but remained naked of sheets that were to cloak the frame. Summer had gotten away from us, and by the following year, the appeal of a tepee had waned. It remains a fond memory, though, of excited faces and a fun time building and planning.
Sometimes it really is the journey and not the destination that we remember.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Silence is Golden

Travelling half way across the state usually calls for radio, CDs, or a fully-loaded Ipod to pass the time.  Usually.  An unexpected trip yesterday, with hastily packed bags, and things on my mind left no time for tunes.  As the ribbon of road unravelled behind me, the miles passed silently, except for the chatter in my head.  Driving with only my own thoughts as company is not a first time thing. I often find the enforced solitude gives me much needed time for introspective thoughts and prayer.  And in some cases, to hatch a plan of action for something that needs addressing in my life. 

Yesterday was such a day.  The hours and miles passed quickly since I was deep in thought.  What a blessing when the road travelled is a long and boring one. I now know my own heart a lot better, and found some peace in my own company, with which to bolster my frame of mind for dealing with my daily obstacles both at home and work. 
Life is a winding road full of obstacles, and sometimes, should not only be approached carefully, but silently as well. 
Here's to listening to our inner voice and for God's presence in our life.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Half a World Away

I am regularly amazed that my blog is viewed by so many people, and that they are not all logging on from a place somewhere here in the U.S. of A.  When I first started writing, lets just say a "while" ago, I was my only audience, and my writings (ramblings?) were kept private for fear of ridicule or being misunderstood. Especially the song lyrics and poetry that have taken shape in my mind, with only the fourth or fifth mental re-write actually ending up on paper.
Working with words is a tricky business.  It is easy to bare your soul when writing about topics that are close to your heart, and learning to take criticism, both good and bad, is a given. Editing student papers for years has given me some insight into critiquing written works with both compassion and an open mind to the message the writer is attempting to convey to their readers.  Remembering the countless papers and essays of my own children throughout high school and college...always prefaced with a whiney-voiced reference to the assigned length of 1,000 words or more...I was quick to remind them I have words (and I know how to use them!). 
My daughter's friend from down-under warmed my heart today when she mentioned I had helped her, from half a world away, to put words to a memorable and emotional experience she had overlooking crashing waves of the Pacific in Australia. 

I think this points to the pull of song lyrics for the teens and tweens, and poetry for the more refined reader.  When another individual can put into words or lyrics the feelings of love, angst, anger, and other emotions, the listener has an "ah-ha!" moment, bringing together swirling feelings and descriptive phrases with a clarity that just moments before had been non-existent. 
I write for myself, for the pleasure it gives me to create and express myself.  It is an added bonus when others appreciate my efforts or applaud my creations, and I am so very thankful for that. 
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Monday, March 28, 2011

Forcing Spring

It's definitely time to shed my winter frame of mind in favor of longer daytime hours, and eventually, warmer snow-less days.  A much needed break visiting the birthday girl this weekend was uneventful weather-wise, and the greening scenery with cloudless blue skies on my journey served to both increase my desire for warm weather and soothe my tired winter soul.
Kate and I broke out the cleaning supplies and put our heads together to redo her dark and wintry bedroom. By the time I left, brights of purple, pink, and teal floral-bedecked paisley swirls covered her bed. Purple silk dogwood and spring greenery popped against a newly painted white wall, nearly screaming "SPRING!" Yellow blooms, like miniature suns graced her dining area.  Beach accents were also turned up a notch in the bathroom, with a sign announcing that "The sea calms the soul".  Amen to that, and countdown to Mother's Day at the BEACH!
Visiting the Presbyterian church in her town, we were treated to a sermon expressing the effect of nature on the human condition.  Solitude in nature does not promote feelings of lonliness, but of wholeness. There's a reason eggs (new life), bunnies (always reproducing), and Easter grass fill baskets at this time of year. There is a promise made and delivered to us each spring that life indeed goes on, despite the harshness of nature during winter or after globally felt storms, as have been felt world wide this winter season. (Summer down under in Australia.) 
The promise of spring....this year... still remains a promise. The calendar announced the new season, but Mother Nature seemed to miss the memo. So for now, I will continue to THINK spring, to spring clean, and force blooms that keep that promise alive in my heart.
Forsythia is always the first bush in my yard to erupt with blossoms, about the same time the daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths pop through the frozen ground and burst itno bloom.  This year we have flowers pushing through SNOW, greeting still cold days with the outstretched greens.  Surprisingly, day lilies I don't usually see before early summer were convinced during the unseasonably warm days in February to adjust their arrival time. It appears the gardening game is ON!

    




Thinking... and forcing SPRING!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

My BABY is a quarter of a century old today, and I would sincerely like someone to explain to me when exactly that happened?!?  I am positive it was just yesterday that she was a 3 year old clinging to my leg as I rang the bell of our new neighbor's house to introduce ourselves. I am sure it was only yesterday that her big brother thought it would be a good idea to make her take a bite out of a night light bulb. I am certain it was only yesterday that her little 3 year old hand took mine, and calmed MY fears as she was about to receive stitches for a gash in her chin...telling me not to worry, because Jesus was with her. *Sniff*
There are certain stories that you just never forget. They live in your memory as though they did just happen yesterday.  Mothers forever remember the intense labor, and pure joy, when their newborn child is placed in the arms, pain immediately forgotten.  The fact of the matter is that your child, your baby, will always be your child and your baby.  Even when they are a quarter of a century old.
So as we sing and celebrate, as the candles are blown out, the private moments, memories and stories flood back, warming the heart and once again bringing out that unconditional love a mother has for her child.  When their special day arrives and they are hours from home, leading adult lives, we can be thankful their new found "family" of friends will also celebrate their life and new found "old age".
Here's to birthdays, extended family (thank you Ping and Dont!), and our babies staying forever young in our hearts.

Oh, and let them eat cake! 
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3
Happy Birthday BABY!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Curly Sue

Rushing to the nursing home after school today I hoped Mom would still be awake. It's her normal shower day and it tends to wear her out to the point of "sawing wood" when she dozes off in her lounge chair.  I found her wide awake and smelling sweet from her bath time, and was astounded to see the hospice aide had dried and curled Mom's nearly white hair. The new "do" softened her features and made me yearn for the days when our curly headed mother with the big smile would greet us all with hugs at the door when we visited. It was truly bitter sweet, and brought tears to my eyes.

As usual, though, Mom dozed off as I was talking to her. I work very hard not to take it personally, assuming it isn't my daily stories rehashing my day that cause her to go into hiding behind her nearly translucent eyelids.  She loves my company, of that I have no doubt. My presence brings her some peace and security in the chaotic moments she survives each day on her unit.  I understand now that, when she holds my hand and dozes off, she is comforted and feels safe in my company. She is able to relax and rest.
I also found a flower on Mom's pillow today. Some benevolent soul had placed an unopened daffodil on each resident's bed.  A true sign of spring and the hope it brings our tired, winter souls is unequalled.  Mom, like many of the residents, was oblivious to the gift, although I did attempt to get her to notice the sunshine yellow of the bloom by waving it under her nose. I brought the bud home with me to place in a vase on my kitchen island, a bright reminder from nature to let our light shine, no matter how hard winter is trying to hang on right now.
I sent my silent thanks to the secret flower girl or guy, and hope they somehow know they truly brought some sunshine into my life today.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Day of Spring

Here in the mountains, we are celebrating the first day of spring with about 4 inches of the white stuff and a SNOW DAY from school. Quite unexpected.....who believes the weather forecasters these days?!  It sure looks pretty, but it is difficult to believe I was sunning my oh-so-white legs on my porch in 50 degree weather just yesterday. Friday I had already shed my coat and packed away sweaters. With another day of snow, note I didn't say snow day (ah!) due on Wednesday, I can only hope this surprise from nature is short lived and melting quickly!
Now I have some shoveling to do, and apparently time to work on the next chapter in Country Roads. Until I am able to get out on those roads to walk, I will live through my own story.
 HAPPY SPRING!!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

PS Weather done RIGHT yesterday
Happy Valley Style....thanks Kate



Yessssss, she rubbed it in a bit!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Story Two...Continued

Continued from Original Blog Country Roads, January 28, 2011
Relaying the story to her brother, who moonlighted as a security guard, meant Kate was in for a lecture on safety afterwards. She new she should have had her cell phone with her, even (or especially?) on infrequently traveled country roads. I’m strong, and fast, and smart, she thought to herself, rationalizing her lack of preparedness in an emergency. Besides, there wasn’t a Pine Ridge, or Pine Anything road around here that even has cell service.
“Psshhh”! The expelled air calmed Kate a bit, as she thought about her early morning experience. Then she giggled to herself. He’s probably some nice, old man who thought I needed a ride, right?
Glancing at the pendulum clock Kate had inherited from her grandparents, she realized Topher was likely to be sleeping in especially late, after a night shift. Thankfully the tale of her “brush with death” could wait. And Dad never had to hear it at all.
Pouring a steaming cup of tea with an excessive amount of sugar and half and half, Kate returned to her waiting laptop to work while the cottage was quiet and still relatively cool. In a few hours the sun would beat down on the surrounding decks, inviting Kate to take a sun-break. This was her summer ritual. Workout, shower, write, RELAX.
Today’s agenda took such a twist when run for your life was added to the mix, Kate thought.
“Back to work”, she said out loud.
Pulling her still somewhat shaky legs beneath her on the couch, Kate began typing.
“The incidence and risk of suicide in brain injury patients increases for those sustaining repeated concussions during athletic events.”
Her latest story for FemSport was beginning to take shape. The controversial topic was difficult to address and personally devastating, knowing people who had lost loved ones in such a tragically, horrific way. All stars and scholarship athletes, ending their own lives after concussions had altered their frame of mind, or perhaps even their brain chemistry. That’s what she hoped to learn and present in her current article, after meeting with an expert later in the week.
A stiff neck and aching knees alerted Kate to the fact that she had been curled up and hunched over her laptop for over an hour. It took her the better part of five minutes to untangle her long legs and slowly stretch the taut muscles both there and in her neck. What she wouldn’t give for a shoulder massage right now, she thought.
Rubbing her own neck as she headed for the kitchen to find food, Kate felt a presence before she heard the sound outside her front door. She had locked it, hadn‘t she? The hair on the back of her stiff neck stood up, and that fight or flight instinct kicked in, sending her heart racing as she approached the door. A shadow crossed the arched, glass panel at the top of the door as something briefly blocked the sun from entering the room. The sun was now at its peak in the sky, but Kate felt a chill, fear gripping her and leaving her unable to move any further. Whatever caused the shadow, just as suddenly moved away. Swallowing hard, Kate got up the nerve to approach the door. As her trembling hand touched the doorknob, she closed her eyes, took a deep, steadying breath, and pulled the door towards her.
A sudden flutter of wings caused a gasp to escape her lips. Then nervous, relieved laughter bubbled up, making Kate sound a bit on the hysterical side. Thankfully the only one to hear her was the blue bird, caught stealing pieces of Spanish moss from the wreath that decorated the front door of the little cottage. The events of that morning had affected her more than even she had realized.
It was time to tell SOMEONE, and to do a little investigating of her own.

Part 3 Anyone?!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Whose Cause is it Anyway?

I can't go anywhere in my smallish town without being asked either for money, a signature, my time, or today.... to beep my horn.   The support staff union at our local medical center is on strike. While I am 100% behind their right to do so, I cringe at the idea of blaring obnoxiously loud and somewhat rude/crude music outside the windows of those needing hospitalization.  While I believe in the right to free speech, I stumble in my backing when bull horns are used so close to a nursery where newborns lay, or cancer and cardiac patients recover from surgery.  I refused to BEEP my support, outside of an institution where people on hospice are taking their last breaths.  I know I sound anti-support.
In actuality I am a giver, usually of my time or helping in some way, although I feel like a Scrooge every time I say, "Sorry, not today", to hopeful faces from brownies through the VFW.  Mind you, I occasionally drop in a buck, but where does it end?  There are so many GREAT, worthy causes out there.  The cause of the week seems to be Japan, and well, if it's not... it should be.  Just the images of destruction and homeless people makes me want to cry.  And then I remember my church is hosting several homeless families this week too. I should really be there doing what I can.
Instead, I was once again at the nursing home giving my time to Mom. In the end I think this is as it should be.  Mom is not a cause, but she is worthy of my time and the funds I spend keeping her clothed and well taken care of now.  It is not charity, but love. It is not a donation of my time, but an investment.  It is not done to receive, but to give.  She is my family.
I also arrived home today to find a fundraiser packet from my GROWN son's drum corps band.  It made me laugh, remembering all the pizzas, wrapping paper, and goodies we bought to support him in his high school band. Thankfully, the Blue Band at PSU didn't nickel and dime the parents. They just flat out asked for (large) donations. I have to give them credit for that.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Priceless

A picture is worth a thousand words, yet this one leaves me speechless.

Hair Cut $25
Nursing Home $7,000
Time with Gram....
                             PRICELESS!



A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Miracles

Last week the doctor took Mom off Aricept, the drug used to help with her memory as the Alzheimer's was claiming her life one remembered story at a time.  I understand his decision, and support the idea of minimizing unnecessary meds. The drug treats mild to moderate cases, and we have surpassed that stage in Mom's care.  She is comfortable, well fed, and has many aides who dote on her at the nursing home.  The idea of quality of life for her has changed dramatically since she first became a resident there. 
During her initial 2 years on the ACU (Alzheimer Care Unit), Mom participated in daily activities that included the likes of parachute play, seated kickball, indoor (plastic) bowling, along with singing and dancing. Sadly, her then dance partners have gone before her to that big ball room in the sky. So have the duets and quartets that sang incredibly accurate and musically sound versions of Chattanooga Choo Choo and other oldies but goodies.  I miss them all, as well as the fun of observing or participating in their social and recreational activities. 
Since Mom's hip was broken 2 1/2 years ago, and as surgery was not an option due to non existent bone density and her inability to rehab in a constructive way, she has been a granny on wheels.  As her body has deteriorated from lack of use, her mind has gone the same way. Aphasia has turned into a general lack of speech.
Then today, a week after stopping her memory drug, something of a miracle occurred.  Mom began repeating many words I was saying to her. She smiled her beautiful smile for the first time in a very long time. I was elated, and yet it broke my heart at the same time.  I know in my heart this is not permanent, but to have such a gift for even a day is something to celebrate and be thankful for.  Mom's aide mentioned she even tried to feed herself today, for the first time in an even longer time.  It is most definitely a miracle. Small by many standards, but huge in my life, for I thought the mom I knew was already gone forever.
This glimpse into the past has reaffirmed my faith, blessed me with something of a family reunion, and given me the strength to handle whatever God places before me and Mom on this journey we call life. Amen to that.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Twins and Things

Mom was a twin. Dad was a twin. Mom's twin had twins.  I found out today that I have a twin also....not the identical, born at the same time kind of twin, but the mother-daughter variety.  More like a mini-me, except when your daughter is taller than you are, she's not exactly mini.  There is a family resemblance, with similar hairstyles, heels equalling out our heights, and strikingly similar clothing styles. When being processed by an elderly mind, all things added equals...well, twins. 
Katie and I visited Mom at the nursing home while she was home this weekend, and this is where we discovered we were "twins". In actuality, Katie was told she looked better as a blond. The blond was actually me. I can not even imagine how the resident's mind was working when she saw Kate and I together, how she processed two similar images, decided they were twins, then translated that information into mirror images to comment that Kate (me) looked better as a blond. Confusing.
The mind is truly an amazing thing.  I have read that we only use about 20% of its capacity for learning, solving, and storing facts and information.  The potential is there, the ability and neurons are there, yet we somehow are unable to make use of it.  Building up the brain, working it out, generating new connections can stave off diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia in later years. Like muscles, the brain must be worked in order to strengthen it.
During Katie's visit this weekend, we also found some time to play a few games of Scrabble. It was fun, but not as intriguing as I thought it would be. I don't recall ever playing it as a child, but perhaps I did and it is my brain's inability to bring up that information.  Personally, I prefer the word game of creating smaller words from the letters that make up a larger one.  For example, the word achievement can be scrambled to form words like hive, chive, and meant. It's a great game to play mentally, no equipment, gameboard, or pencil and paper required.
Twins often skip a generation, so the probability of Katie having twins is conceivably far greater than mine had been.  I look forward to having granchildren, and especially the idea of a two for one deal.  I will cherish whatever we are blessed with, and pray that good health and more mental gymnastics will keep the degenerative diseases of the brain at bay, both for myself and future generations. 
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tomorrow

As the rain pummels the northeast, particularly the east and west sides of my state, the central counties have somehow escaped the worst of the deluge. This makes my daughter happy, but for me, I am currently living in fear that the sump pump will die a quiet death while I sleep. Awaking to an indoor basement pool is not something I want to repeat, as we have had to throw out life preservers for some of our family room furniture and other items twice before.  Since then I have sworn by our newly installed B-Dry system, and just want to say...don't fail me now! Tomorrow promises to bring clearing skies, and with it safe travel for my daughter to come home for a weekend of shopping for her upcoming birthday, and all the good food she can eat. The fact that for 2 days she doesn't have to cook it herself is a bonus.
It still strikes me as strange that my baby is all grown up and living and working so far from home.  She recently sent me a pic of her in her lab coat....giggling the entire time she was posing.  I think she finds it even harder to believe that she is a mature and contributing member of society.
At work she is currently researching and providing data to doctors on head trauma injuries. I find it interesting and am totally proud of her knowledge, the experience she is gaining, and how capable she is in her role at the lab.  There is no doubt in my mind I would trust her with my life....and should probably have my head examined at some point.
Her Gram and Farfar are happily contemplating spending some time with their granddaughter, or at least they would be if either had any sparks left in their short term memory. While biology and disease has stolen pieces from their memories, the upside is the joy that overtakes them at "surprise" visits they were told about repeatedly.
Here's to family reunions and living in the moment.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What are you making for dinner?

Reservations! I've always loved this old joke, because I truly hate to cook. If anything takes longer to make than it does it eat, I most likely won't be making it. As a kid, my mom served us the typical meat, potatoes, and vegetable dinner, and although I had my favorites, the canned beans were uninspired. Our family didn't have pizza for dinner until I was in high school.  Until reaching college, I never realized how deprived my taste buds were.
I have adapted most of Mom's recipes to appeal more to my own family's tastes, and vegetables are now fresh or frozen....which means I eat a lot more of them!  Mom's homemade potato salad, minus the onions and celery seed, is requested by my kids and even my daughter's boyfriend.  It wil always be known as Gram's Potato Salad.
Most of what I make now has an Italian flare, learned basically through trial and error, although I did discover what a creamy addition ricotta cheese can be in pasta dishes. I learned that from my SWEDISH mother-in-law.  I quite honestly have no recipes from Denmark or Sweden. She embraced being American, and otherwise cooked to please her Italian husband. 
The rest of my culinary triumphs came from recipes that claimed to be ready in 20 minutes or less. That's my kind of food! As it turns out it is my daughter's kind of food as well.  After her first year of dorm life at college, she excitedly moved into an apartment, but the one drawback to being grown up was the cooking.  I sent her off that year packed with her Gram's old cookware, plates, and silverware, along with a small book of recipes that even she couldn't mess up.

She found it hysterical that her entire repetoire of recipes numbered less than a dozen, and despite explicit directions, she still called home everytime she attempted to cook.  In spite of herself, some of her meals were quite good, although she didn't like cooking enough to do it often. Thankfully though, she had one roomie who would feed her on occassion, and her other unfed nights became take out or something simple. (Cereal?!)

Now that she has another hungry person to feed, with an appetite like no one we know, she has grown into the art of cooking, and experiements a bit beyond my tried and true recipes. That's the way it should be. We take what we are taught, incorporate our own likes and dislikes, and create something new based on the old. It is much like this with traditions, customs, and parenting, in addition to cooking.  We all learn from each other and pass on what we know from loved ones, and of course from family.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Parking Gestapo

My time is limited for visiting with my ailing mother.  Circumstances have changed dramatically since she was in her own home. At that time I had a key, and could come unannounced, staying over if need be. The nursing home still advertises a facility where loved ones can visit at any time...day or night.  The web site, nor any printed information, don't seem to have (but perhaps should) the fine print that gives exclusions to this offer. 
Arriving at my usual time to see Mom recently, I was flagged down in the parking lot before I even had an opportunity to look for a parking space. Lowering my window, the receptionist-turned-parking-gestapo barked at me, "You can't double park!"  I wasn't even aware all the spaces were filled at that point, and felt almost violated by the brusque treatment.  Thankfully, another visitor was departing as I was biting my tongue, holding in the response I would have liked to share. Suuuuureee I can come ANYTIME....as long as there's parking! In a discussion with the facility administrator just a short week before this incident, I was instructed to come see him if there was no parking available. Apparently he forgot to mention I'd have to come see him about there being no parking when there WAS parking. Ridiculous right?
After parking, I headed for the main entrance, biting back a giggle at the receptionist being wind-blown and aggravated. There was a lot of that going around that day.  I am certain her job description does not include parking attendant, and her treatment of visitors was tempered by this fact. It was also only about 32 degrees outside that day.
Once inside, breathing a sigh of relief, I was able to greet Mom, grab her a snack, and we headed to our usual hangout in the sunroom. Or so I thought. The door was closed, but opened as if by magic as I approached to reveal a meeting in full swing.  The sunroom is advertised as an amenity for residents, but on that day was being used for training sessions. I was told it would be free the next hour, so I bit my tongue again....a little harder this time....to wait it out.
Unfortunately, the information I had been given was again incorrect. A second hour of training sessions were to start.  At this point I felt compelled to file a grievance.  I am truly not an unreasonable person.  I definitely don't like to make waves.  Over the past 5 years, though, I have learned the true lesson of the squeaky wheel, and went ahead with my complaint.  Mom and I had only an abbreviated visit as there was nowhere to sit quietly with her. This made me more sad than angry, and feeling emotional, I fled the building before tears overtook me.
A few days later I was approached by the unit director with the training staff in tow.  I received an apology and the promise that future training sessions would not be held in the residents common areas.  I appreciated this gesture, but feel the need to insure it is followed in the months and years to come.
Petty? Perhaps.  When there are individuals who cannot speak for themselves, someone needs to speak up. And for Mom I would do anything, because family is everything.
By the way, turns out there was no parking due to the ill planned, timed, and improperly located training sessions. Imagine that.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I Still Do

Thirty years ago today I was on spring break from my first teaching job.  It was also the week before my wedding, which had initially been planned for summer of that year.  Teaching at the same school as my husband, a couple states away from home, we decided to move the wedding up to our spring break. I had a week off for the final list of things to do, and a honeymoon week following the mid-break ceremony.  Perfectly laid plan.
From the date of our engagement in August of the previous year, plan time amounted to only seven months, and was being done long distance, mostly by my mom.  In retrospect, I am amazed we were able to pull things together so fast, and so well.  While time was not on our side, the fact that I was no "bridezilla" was. I would travel three hours home for weekends spent dress shopping, flower selecting, and reception hall hunting.  Once I had THE DRESS, the rest was easy.  My fairly simple tastes made selection of invitations easy and flowers even easier.  A reception to be held in the ballroom of a local racquet club was also a piece of cake....which they provided with the sit down dinner for almost 200. 
There were no real snags except the missing song for our first dance, for which we easily substituted another equally romantic and meaningful tune.  The most wonderful memory I have from the day of my wedding was the feeling of calm, and everything being right with the world as I waited for the evening ceremony. I was a very happy bride.
Thirty years later I still am. I still "do".  I find it uncanny at the timing of my husband discovering a yellowed slip of paper among his mother's things yesterday, much like I did recently.
His mother and I were not what I consider to be close while she was alive, but I loved her and wished I had the words to comfort, to connect, or to just talk sometimes during her life ending battle with cancer.  I am sure she knew my depth of caring, but it makes me pause with regret to this day.  Before John and I married, she and I never talked about marriage, and she never shared with me any advice or thoughts on the nuptials. Now, thirty years later, my husband handed me this just discovered top ten list, written in his mom's own handwriting.
"The Ten Most Important Things in a Marriage".  Love, laughter, talk, involvement, friendships, integrity, tolerance, adaptability, sex, sharing.  All true, so true.  I can't help but wonder at the circumstances causing her to pen the list. Was it something she had shared with my late sister-in-law perhaps, or a moment of wisdom she had hoped to share with me or my husband? We will never know for sure, but the fact that it has surfaced means it will give future generations the benefit of her insight and power of perseverance with a man she loved with all her heart... when he wasn't driving her crazy. I am grateful to have this heartfelt, handwritten advice to pass onto my own daughter, together with my own recipe for a good marriage, before she weds the love of her life one day. 
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3