Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Jim!

Happy Birthday to Jim -- 28 years today. I can't post a photo, since I'm not at my PC and can't get to my save CDs, but you know who you are and what you look like anyway! I love you, little Jimmy!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


All my guys are starting to come home for Christmas & I'm excited to see them! Dan was going to fly out today to go to Orlando & drive home with Charlie, but we got 12" of snow last night & today, so all flights were cancelled. I'm sad that he won't get to go to Florida, but happy because I'll get to see him more and Charlie that much sooner! Not only that, but the snow is beautiful... if only I didn't have to drive in it tomorrow.

As unhappy as I was about Christmas last year, I am excited about it this year. I'm definitely in the zone, as my guys say! I've already made 5 kinds of cookies, am all decorated, almost finished with shopping and wrapping and there is still a week and a half left.

Dan brought his new kitty, Little Dice, with him and she's really sweet and friendly! She's a black and white semi-long hair and I find it interesting that all of our pets -- Turner, Leo, Dan's Little Dice & Jim's Simon -- are black and white. They all look great in our kitchen (or would if they weren't afraid to come out of the basement).

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're off to grandmother's house, but I wanted to wish everyone a happy and blessed and truly thank-full Thanksgiving -- not just an eat-turkey-and-plan-tomorrow-morning's-shopping day!

I'll have pictures from our trip to Minnesota when I get back.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

They Shall Not Grow Old. . .

I have to admit to being obsessed with World War I.

Today is Armistice Day -- the day the treaty was signed that ended World War I, the forgotten war. Over 12 million were wounded and over 5 million killed. Most of the wounded and dead were Russian, British and French. We can't even imagine what it was like to see an entire generation of young men lost, often an entire family or village of men, since they signed up and saw active duty together. If, as Tom Brokaw says, WW II saw the "greatest generation", WWI was the "lost generation".

People in Britain still where poppies this week to commemorate Flanders' fields. We don't do that any longer here, or remember the meaning of the poppies. We've become such a nation of weenies that we can't even imagine the bravery of those who fought, were wounded or killed. We lament (as we should) the loss of several thousand, while they lost millions, sometimes with entire famiies or entire villages lost!

Here are two of my favorite poems (or parts of poems):

Grass -- Carl Sandburg
Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo,
Shovel them under and let me work--
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

For the Fallen -- Laurence Binyon
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Remember the lost generation this Armistice Day.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

An Interesting Post - Not By Me!

In light of my last post, I'm reprinting this from one of my favorite Daily Photo blogs, Ham's londondailyphoto. I didn't just link to it, because I didn't trust any of the 3 people who actually read my blog to navigate to it & it's GOOD STUFF! Enjoy!

Ham writes:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Sovereigns Gate

After the 5th of November and the Gunpowder Plot comes the state opening of Parliament - they still search the cellars for gunpowder, just in case. The queen arrives in full pomp and circumstance, enters through the Sovereigns Gate in Victoria Tower and reads the speech the Prime Minister has prepared for her.

I happen to believe that the process of making our laws is important and the single thing that will destroy our democracy is not Left wing extremists, or right wing extremists, or even terrorists, but apathy.

Talking of laws, I'm sure you'll find this report entertaining of a survey into the stupidest laws still on the statute books.

Also if you want to visit and you aren't in London, you may enjoy the Virtual Tour.See where on the London Daily Photo Map

posted by Ham at 00:16

Monday, November 05, 2007

Remember, remember the fifth of November

“Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.”

Today is
Guy Fawkes, also known as Bonfire Night! I'm late posting this, as I wanted to note it early this morning, but life got in the way.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's Good to be a Packrat

I'm very excited! We found a box in the attic (that we've obviously moved 5 times) with a lot of old Reds' scorecards and World Series books going back all the way back to the 1970s & the Big Red Machine. Some are scored in and some aren't. There are a few from Opening Days in the 80s, including 1983, the last one I went to in Cincinnati (with my sister -- poor thing -- because Jim was already in Philadelphia). My favorite is from 1982 and has this note: "July 24 - Farmers' Night - Baby due Aug. 4" That baby is Charlie, who arrived August 5!

Too Cool!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Goodbye, Garden

It looks as though our incredibly warm weather is finally gone and autumn has come. We had our first frost two nights ago, so the garden is put to bed. I'm actually a little glad, since it allows me to turn to some indoor projects I've been putting off. Here are some end-of-the-season pictures, including some of the Turner the Crazy Dog actually sitting still!

What do you do with 130+ little pumpkins?

I wanted him to sit on the bench for a shot for the Michigan Border Collie Rescue 2008 calendar, but he would have none of it!

A classic pose. Doesn't he look calm & composed?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Yawns revisited

Back in August, I posted about yawns and how powerfully I'm affected by them. At the end of September All Things Considered did this story about a man at the University of Maryland who set out to create a "doomsday yawn" (sorry about the quotation marks, Bethany ), where NO ONE who saw it could resist. He found that it isn't the sight of the gaping mouth or sound of the "ahhhh" (sorry, again, Bethany) but that some people just can't resist any suggestion of a yawn, while others remain unaffected. Listen to the story, because the research is fascinating!

Now, I know there are lurkers out there -- honestly, how many of you yawned when you read this?

I've yawned 4 times since I began this post!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I hate plastics!

I haven't posted in a while and was planning to update on my garden or what I've been doing lately. But what I've been doing lately is stewing over a story I heard a few days ago on All Things Considered.

Albatross chicks on Midway Atoll , in the Pacific Ocean, are dying because their little stomachs are full of plastic. I have long thought plastic, along with its nearly-eternal lifespan, is almost an evil thing. The thought of PETE 6 cups and disposable diapers piling up and existing forever in landfills is so disturbing! Perhaps, though, I should hate not the plastic, but the truly ignorant and, yes, selfish people who are responsible for all of it -- people who won't wash diapers (disposables) or wash a mug at work (styrofoam cups) or carry an item out of a store by hand (plastic bags) or who drink bottled water when they aren't on the go AND people who won't recycle because it's too much trouble to clean, sort or take labels off AND, most especially, the people who just DON'T CARE!

I would be happy living in a plastic-free environment, even though it would mean no computers or electronics and the end of myriad items I use every day. Our entire disposable-mindset has gotten out of hand and, from what I can see, even the thoughtful and responsible people I know don't care! Everyone would rather throw things out and buy new than restore, repair or clean the old things.

And where, by the way, did the plastics come from that the albatross chicks ate? The mainland -- 1000s of miles away!! The plastic litter (thrown by stupid people) washes down the storm sewers and is washed through water systems until it goes out to sea, where the parent albatrosses think it's food and pick it up to feed to their young.

So, even if you don't REALLY care, do something nice for the environment every day -- reuse a bag, wash out a cup, buy recycled-material products, throw away your trash, recycle EVERYTHING recyclable and, best of all, don't use it in the first place!

Sorry about the rant -- I'll be back to thinking happy thoughts at the next post.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Creepy Crawlies, Haze & Cake

Today's post is a collection of photos.

There are always lots of insects in the garden -- especially when one gardens organically. We brought in a large basket of tomatoes yesterday and brought a few creepy crawlies with them.
I know the quality isn't good, because I can't get close enough with my camera, but here's a tomato-colored bug with a chevron on it's back, just like a Box Elder Bug, on the side of the basket.

If you look closely her at the handle of the cookie jar, you'll see a little tomato worm who crawled all the way along the kitchen counter overnight to go to the largest tomato it had ever seen!

This is a creepy caterpillar that was on our barn door.

I'm including this picture because I like it! It was hazy last Friday morning and the sun was beautiful through the haze. Of course, I couldn't do it justice through the screens on the back porch and only an idiot would have gone outside to be carried off by the mosquitoes!

On to animal foolishness. . . we've known for a while that Turner has a sweet tooth. However, we stupidly left my birthday cake unattended and he licked the icing from one side, in a surgical strike, never eating a single crumb of cake!

And here's the culprit, pretending to be innocent. This one's for you, Charlie!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Garden

Since I don't have a separate garden blog, you all have to suffer through posts about the garden.

It's starting to wear the typical August look -- overgrown, browning and tired. The weather has alternated between really hot & droughty and cool and too much rain -- not a great combination for keeping plants from getting fungus, black spot and shocked. In spite of that, we've had great yields this year, though, no matter how bad the plants look (about a bushel of green beans, lots of broccoli heads, lots of strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes and cukes)!

Here are some pictures. And, as a reward (?) for looking at the pictures, when you get to the bottom you'll find a video of Turner, the crazy dog. I apologize for the poor quality of the video, but it was shot on a regular digital cameral and he's so incredibly fast that it's hard to keep him in the frame.

Thanks for visiting!

Lumina pumpkins that are taking over

The "attack luminas" from another angle

All the beds are running together

Leeks -- new to the garden this year

Some of the tomatoes & green beans

Not in the veg garden -- native prickley pear flower

Also not in the veg garden --
"Joseph's Coat" climbing rose

Turner, the Crazy Dog

Friday, August 17, 2007

Jim's Next Chapter Begins

Well. young Jim has successfully moved cross-country from LA to Washington DC, to begin working on his Ph.D at the University of Maryland. I must admit that, as a mother, I'm breathing a great sigh of relief. Now he'll no longer fall into the ocean when the great earthquake hits (or when Lex Luthor destroys it to make Arizona oceanfront property). However, in disaster movie logic, he's really not better off! He should have moved to Des Moines or someplace like that (Butte, MO, perhaps?)

Just think how often you've seen the White House blown up, either by terrorists or aliens! IS the DC area truly safer than LA? Compare "Volcano" (where lava runs uphill) to "Independence Day"! The only place that's less safe is New York City, particularly the Statue of Liberty -- think "The Day After Tomorrow" or "Deep Impact". I suppose, in the end, we're not really cinematically safe anywhere -- even Jericho, KS isn't safe!!!!

At any rate, I'm happy that Jim and his dad (and Simon, of course) made it across the country with no mishaps -- highway-wise or politically! Happy new beginnings, Jim -- I'm really excited for you, taking this step, and proud of you, too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I can be a simpson, too!

If Jimmy and Christy can be simpsonized, so can I!! Here are Unc & I. . .

Monday, August 13, 2007


Coming home from work tonight, I drove past someone (driving in the approaching traffic) who was yawning a big, open-mouthed yawn and it made me yawn immediately! That got me thinking about whether or not yawns truly are contagious or if it's just our imagination. As I started looking up articles on this: this one & this, I began to yawn & continue to as I write this post.

Yawns definitely are contagious, especially to me! I must be very empathetic, or closer to the chimpanzees than I like to think!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Happy Birthday, Charlie!

Today is Charlie's birthday and we got to have him at home with us to celebrate it. That may not sound like such a big thing, but with our guys scattered across the country (literally) having an at-home celebration is major.

I know that Charlie always refers to himself as "the good son" (as do his brothers, and NOT in a Macauley Culkin way) -- but what I think of most about him is his good nature. He almost NEVER gets angry or upset about things. I believe he is the most even-tempered person I know.

I looked at lots of pictures of him for this birthday blog, all cute and most with an interesting story attached. I chose this one, though, because it is exactly as Charlie looked growing up -- always smiley and always happy.

Happy Birthday, Charlie -- the big 25!! We love you!!!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Happy Birthday, Christy!

One of the greatest pleasures of blogging, to my mind, is sending birthday greetings to people I love and getting to choose just the right photo to honor them that day.

Crit, this one's for you!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I've think it's pretty sad when a middle-aged mom updates her blog more often than her twenty-something sons. Jim, Charlie & Danny -- where are you?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Danny -- You're not a kid anymore!

Happy 21st birthday Danny!

It makes me sad (that my baby is 21) and happy (for you) at the same time! These momentous birthdays tend to make parents thoughtful -- so here's what I think about you! You've always been very generous -- enjoying giving as much as receiving -- sensitive to others' feelings & very wise (even as a little guy) and deep in your faith. I've always liked your love of music (you know more songs than anyone I know!) and the fact that you're a free thinker (yes, I'm even used to the plugs and tattoos).

My favorite Danny-ism: when you were 4 and told me you'd seen a spider that was little and big -- it was a daddy-longlegs. Also, another favorite is big brother (translate: second mother) Charlie constantly ripping into me for letting you mispronounce things as a toddler: "he's going to talk like that forever!"

So, happy birthday, Dan -- Charlie's roast comes in a few weeks!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Power Outages Suck!

I haven't been on a computer in 3 days. We had a huge storm move through very quickly Thursday afternoon and leave in its wake many downed trees, alot of debris and widespread power outages -- including ours. A tornado was reported to the southeast of us and I think there was a wind shear, because our neighbors across the street had 4 trees and/or their larger branches sliced off at exactly the same height.

Our power was out from 3:35 Thursday afternoon until about 4:00 today (Sunday).

Here's what I learned from the 3-day experience:
  • Living without electricity, telephones, refrigerator (you can't open it, in order to save the cold) or water (NO TOILETS!) really sucks!
  • Detroit Edison doesn't give realistic time estimates for repair
  • Detroit Edison never tells the caller what happened or why the power is still out
  • There are lots of people in Meijer at 12:30 on Friday night (especially when Harry Potter is released)
  • One cannot find gallon jugs of water anywhere when there are power outages
  • It takes 25 bottles of water to fill the holding tank on a toilet
  • If one eats enough junk food in a 3 day period, one gets sick of it
  • There is a God and He has a sense of humor -- Jim left on a golf outing early Friday morning and is getting back tonight and missed the whole thing!

    Thanks for visiting!
    • Saturday, June 30, 2007

      In the garden today

      The raspberries are in! With less than two weeks to be sad that strawberries and asparagus are done, we're getting big, beautiful, sweet raspberries. I used the only container I could find in the barn (this teacup) and filled it -- putting those left over into ME!

      Also, we put up the scarecrow, called "Basketball Head" -- not very original, I know. He used to be named "Mexican Jones" because young Jim put a face on him that looked like a Mexican bandito, but that cloth face rotted away and was replaced by a dead basketball. Anyway, when Turner went out after that, he saw the scarecrow and FLIPPED OUT, barking and challenging. I can't get him to go near him -- he's sure he's a threatening person. Here's are some pictures -- see how scary YOU think he is.

      Monday, June 25, 2007

      Western Trip

      We've just returned from our trip to the Rotary International Convention in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake was a much more contemporary and interesting city than I expected -- it was really clean & safe and had great sculptures throughout the whole city. We did a side tour to the Great Salt Lake and the Kennecott Copper Mine.

      After that, we drove down to Las Vegas, stopping at Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park on the way. What awesome places they were! I continue to be amazed at the beauty and variety the Lord has created, just because He can!! I think Zion was my favorite because we were able to drive through it and really get a feel for the size and majesty of the canyons.

      The next day, we drove out to Grand Canyon West, which is in the Haulapai Indian Reservation. We opted not to go out on the glass skywalk because it costs $50 more and you can't even take cameras out there! We were, however, just west of there at Guano Point (you can see where we were here on Google maps. The vistas were lovely and the Canyon is, of course, awesome -- there's a reason it's called one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The reason it's called Guano Point is that the indians used to zip-line & rapelle down the side of the canyon into bat caves there and "mine" the guano to sell!

      Before you get to GC West, you drive over 17.5 miles of the worst dirt roads ever (even worse than those here in Michigan)! It takes about an hour to go those 17 miles, but they go through a Joshua tree forest and a beautiful part of the Mojave Desert. The Joshua trees go on for miles and are small (the tallest is about 15 feet) and gnarled looking. They are really old -- the forest is estimated to be about 900 years old! You can read about Joshua trees here in Wikipedia -- they really are fascinating, though I did find them ugly.

      I saw some new birds, too, though I didn't have a field guide and had a hard time identifying them. I saw a Common Raven, a female Golden-Crowned Kinglet, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. I get really excited to see new birds! I know I'm a geek, but I just can't help myself.

      After that, we stayed in Las Vegas for a day & a half. That was, for me, the low point. I'm always taken by how decadent and darkened it is, with everyone concentrating on nothing but themselves, sex, drinking and gambling! It was also 11o degrees, which is REALLY hot when there's nothing but asphalt and cement. We walked miles and saw all the sights, including the new Wynn (which is lush with water features and gardens and really lovely) and the waters at Bellagio. There are some really pretty parts of Vegas, if you can forget about the loss and economy that builds it and the fact that they're devouring all the water everywhere around them.

      So that's the story of "what I did on my summer vacation". Be sure to check out the webshots link below for more pics. Thanks for visiting and for reading my long post!

      Image hosted by
      by auntie20

      Friday, June 15, 2007

      What's New?

      I haven't updated in a while. I've just been busy planting, watering and weeding. We've already got our first tomato growing (!) and have picked so many wonderful strawberries! I think the garden will be great this year, though the season is starting out really hot. New this year are leeks -- I'll keep you posted on how they do.

      One of the girls died this week. Tiny, the Aracauna, had gotten so thin that I don't even think she weighed 1/2 pound. She just had less and less energy and hadn't laid an egg in months. All the girls are 3 years old and I believe that's old for hens, though they don't have a long life expectancy. My girls certainly don't face many hardships or much stress in their sheltered world!

      We leave tomorrow for the Rotary Convention in Salt Lake City. From there, we'll go down to Las Vegas and will be going to see the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam at some point. It should be a fun trip, with lots of sightseeing. I'll try to post at least once from there.

      The chickens, cats, dog and plants are all going to be in the care of Danny -- I hope he's up to the pressure (and Turner's early mornings)!

      Tuesday, June 05, 2007

      Lily's Quilt

      Christy wanted me to post something about the quilt I made for Lily. When I gave it to her, I told Crit that I would, but now it seems like boasting -- forgive me if it seems like that to you, too!

      The blocks in Lily's quilt are from animal patterns found in "Claire's Cats" and "Grandma's Bunnies", along with others that I made up because I wanted more variety. The fabrics are primarily Aunt Grace's (a reproduction line of 20s and 30s fabrics) and a few vintage ones that had enough strength to stand up to play. The polka dots, which also are the backing fabric, are an Alexander Henry called "Pop Dots" and I know that I bought every yard (and piece of a yard) available online throughout the country (because there is no more available anywhere)!

      I love the outdoors and animals and hoped that Lily would have fun learning the animals and colors, discovering the patterns in the fabric and counting. This is, by far, the most fun I've had making a quilt and (I think) the best one I've ever done. The more I sewed, the more my imagination ran away with me and I'm really pleased with the result. Here are pictures of the blocks -- thanks for looking!

      Saturday, June 02, 2007

      Gardens & Laptops

      We've been working in the garden, finally planting the vegetables and STILL planting perennials! We're picking about a pound and a half of asparagus each day. The great news is, though, that the strawberries have arrived!!! They're so sweet -- well worth waiting a year for!

      In other, totally unrelated, news -- I'm very excited because we finally have a laptop. Charlie's hard drive died and he replaced his laptop and gave the dead one to us. I replaced the hard drive & disk drive myself (it sounds harder than it is) and reloaded all the drivers, OS & software and -- after 3 nights of working on it and online chats with Dell because of our wireless router -- we have a laptop. It's fun to finally arrive in the 20th century!

      Tuesday, May 29, 2007

      Happy Birthday, Aunt Gene!

      Today is Aunt Gene's 85th birthday. What a great person she is!! She's always had a "glass half full" attitude. Growing up in a single parent household during the depression, she says that they were the happiest people and had everything they could ever have wanted. She finds great pleasure in the simplest of things: the Cincinnati skyline from the Kentucky side, the ducks at a local park & birds that nest outside her window. She says that she looks in the mirror and says to herself "Who is that old woman?" -- we look at her and are amazed that she's 85! She still walks 1/2 mile on most days and just recently gave up swimming (temporarily) because of some minor health concerns. May she have years and years of continued good health & happiness.

      Years ago, Danny had to write a descriptive short paper on someone's hands. Here's what he wrote about Aunt Gene. I've always liked it because it fits her so well:
      Geneva has had the same hands for 80 years. The same wonderful hands that held a tennis racket through her youth and won countless state championships. The same hands that typed gracefully on a typewriter at P & G’s headquarters are now weak and full of arthritis. The same hands that wore an engagement ring, but not a wedding ring, for war does odd things to the minds of fianc├ęs. She still has the same hands that held two nieces when they were born, and five great- nieces and nephews, as if they were her own grandchildren. These are the same hands that held many young hands while crossing the street. These are the same great hands, that have hugged and embraced friends and family.

      These hands have never missed church, unless they must. These are the same hands that finger through the Bible page after page. These are the same hands that fold and team up with the knees for a daily discussion with the Lord. These hands also hold the hand of Jesus, as they walk through the garden, in Aunt Gene’s daily walk with Christ.

      These are the same hands that have never cooked a meal before. These are also the same hands that very rarely labor to benefit themselves. These hands are also the same kind and loving hands that have very little desire to spend time, love or money on themselves. These hands will never be forgotten, for they have touched a great amount of peoples’ hearts, minds and souls.

      Tuesday, May 22, 2007

      Time for an update

      I really don't have anything meaningful to blog about, but it's time for an update on what's been going on in my life.

      Last week, I went to a convention in Chattanooga for our church database software. Chattanooga is a cool little town and southern hospitality is a real thing. Everyone was so nice and friendly. I'm such a geek for being as excited as I was about the classes -- how many people would be energized by the topics "Maintaining a Clean Database" and "Managing Classes and Small Groups"?

      The flights there and back were just creepy! We were on very small jets (40-50 people), including one that taxied up to the gate with only one propeller working -- that's right, I said propeller! We were also delayed 4 1/2 hours in Charlotte because they first didn't have a plane, then didn't have a crew and finally didn't have a captain -- who wonders why the airline industry is in trouble??

      Gardening time is upon us and I've been busy planting and weeding. We've got lots of strawberry blossoms, which means lots of strawberries! I can hardly wait. They'll come and then the raspberries will be right behind them -- Yum! We're also getting about 1 1/2 pounds of asparagus every day -- enough to eat and freeze some, too!

      We're going to Cincinnati soon to celebrate Aunt Gene's 85th birthday! (If you're one of my boys and you haven't gotten her card yet, be sure to buy it and get it in the mail by Friday.) I might post a happy birthday message for her, but it would be a waste because she's a real technotard!

      I'm ashamed to admit it, but I really got hooked on Heroes. The season finale was last night and they did, indeed, save the world (or at least a large chunk of New York City). I was disappointed in the ending though, because one of my favorite characters died. He can, however, return next year from death in true soap opera fashion, since he has the ability to regenerate. Does anyone else watch Heroes? What did you think of the ending?

      Friday, May 04, 2007

      Turner and the Muskrat

      I haven't posted in a while -- I've just been busy with the usual routine, so there wasn't anything to comment on.

      We had some excitement here last night, though -- Turner, the 75 pound dog, had close encounter with a muskrat. For about an hour & a half, he ran around the base of one of the pine trees barking and lunging at the muskrat, which was cornered and occasionally lunged back. Turner's legs and paws got cut by the brush & pine branches and when we finally got him out, we spent the next hour finding the cuts, getting the bleeding to stop, bandaging him up and cleaning blood off of him and the kitchen floor. It's so much fun having a big dog in the country!

      There are always things to be thankful for, though: he's going to be okay, he's a little subdued today (always a good thing), it was a muskrat and not a skunk and that particular muskrat will never come to our house again!

      Thursday, April 19, 2007

      Spring is REALLY here!

      I've been so sad about the Virginia Tech massacre that I haven't felt like posting anything else and even felt it was a little inappropriate to take anything lightly in the wake of those deaths.

      However, Spring has finally really arrived here in Michigan (though not yet in the UP). Today it was 60+, the peonies are coming up, grass is getting green and trees are beginning to leaf out. By 10:00 this morning I was out in the Beetle (she started up right away) and had rescued my first road-crossing turtle for the year!

      Which brings me back full-circle to Virginia Tech. I think part of the reason I like gardening so much is that it puts me in synch with the earth's natural rhythms. No matter what horrible experiences we live through or we learn of, the days continue to get longer and warmer, the bug-eating birds return from wherever they go, trees leaf out and the earth (life) goes on, regardless -- just as it has for thousands of years. I find that more comforting than any of the platitudes or cliches that I hear people say. I find it as comforting as scripture because, for me, it's living scripture. It all works together to reassure me that God is sovereign, what seems so long to us is but a moment to Him and that it will, ultimately, all be well.

      Tuesday, April 17, 2007

      In the midst of life we are in death

      They got up this morning and went to class -- the usual mind-dulling routine -- perhaps thinking of the snowy spring, summer jobs, lovers, upcoming projects or just wishing they'd slept in. Not one of them could have known it was their last morning of life.

      Every parent shares with the parents of those students the pain too horrible to give voice to. The IM or text message that won't be coming. The waiting, hoping to be one of the blessed families, one of the survivor stories. Every one of us must stop and think of the brevity of life and how fragile we are. In the midst of life we are in death.

      Sunday, April 15, 2007

      Stages of life, culture and stupid questions

      I've observed that, just as we all have stages in life related to age, we also have stages in life related to our culture and stages in, what I call for lack of a better tag, stupid questions.

      I remember when everyone I knew was getting married, having babies, and buying and decorating houses. Now everyone I know is buying a smaller house or redecorating their original one (because the kids have moved out) and is on a mission to get rid of stuff they spent years acquiring. I remember my parents doing exactly this same thing and, believe me, as creepy as it is to look like one's parents or sound like one's parents, it's equally creepy to do the same things one's parents have done! We all tend to (want to?) feel like we're moving into uncharted territory in our lives, but we're really only acting out the cycle that everyone else has acted out before us. As I play my part in this cycle, I think that, with both of my parents dying in their 60s, mortality is looming in the recesses of my mind. I'm not going to elaborate on that, though, except to say that it ties in to the stages of stupid questions . . . .

      I'm amazed at how many times I've been asked lately if I have any grandchildren yet! I don't even have married children (but, apparently, I should) and I don't feel old enough mentally or physically to be a grandmother. I must have, though, developed the definitive wrinkle on my face that causes people to move me from mother-of-college-aged-children to the next level!! Not particularly flattering, to my mind and it just makes me feel old. Just as the questions once were "are you married yet?", "when are you going to have children?" or "when are you going back to work?", now I'm asked about grandchildren. I guess people ask these questions as openers or ice-breakers, but they just seem prying to me. I've never liked to interrogate others about their personal lives -- obviously, this is why I'm not good a small talk (and, also, why I don't want to be). I'm sincerely interested in other people, but I'd rather get to know what they think and feel than the current state of their family.

      My youngest son told me recently that I don't update my blog often enough, my posts are too long and that I don't write about interesting things. I think the last point is proved out by today's post -- interesting to me, but probably not to a college sophomore. He is, though, living out both stages. All he needs to do is count the number of times he's asked "what's your major?" or "do you have a girlfriend?"

      So, as you read this blog, ask yourself what stage you're in and what stupid questions you've been asked lately.

      Thanks for visiting -- leave a comment!

      Wednesday, April 11, 2007

      Catching up

      I haven't posted in a long time -- so I'll try to catch up in 60 seconds or less (which seems the be the amount of time someone will look at a page).

      Spring is coming to some parts of the world -- but not to Michigan! Here is what our spring looks like:

      And here's what spring looks like on other blogs I check daily:

      London, England
      San Francisco
      Brighton, England

      We're all so tired of cold and snow!!!! I'm afraid we're going to go from winter straight to summer and skip spring all together. I don't know what that will do to the garden . . . I don't care, though -- I just want the snow to stop!

      Further news:
      I had my 1,000th view last week. That won't seem like much to those of you who have blogged for years and have blog-iversaries, but I'm pretty excited. Especially since no one knows my blog is here!

      Next item:
      There was a fascinating piece in the news lately about Joshua Bell (winner of the Avery Fisher Prize) playing his violin for an hour in a Washington DC Metro station. He made $39 ($59 if you count a twenty thrown to him by a woman who recognized him as a world renowned violinist), and only a handful of people bothered to listen. Bell gave the money to the lady who loaned him the violin case to lay out in front of him for donations. I've always loved to stop and listen to buskers for a few minutes (always paying for the privilege) and enjoy the "free" concert. Maybe it goes back to listening to "For Free" by Joni Mitchell. Interestingly, Joshua Bell said he'll look at, listen to and think about buskers differently from now on. Why does our society always equate talent or value with celebrity? You can see the story here in the Washington Post, or listen to him interviewed here on NPR. Here's a review of his new violin CD.

      Thanks for visiting -- leave a comment!

      Friday, March 30, 2007

      Great Blogs

      I hope you'll check out the sites that I've linked to -- there are some really outstanding photographers (and, therefore, outstanding photos) out on the internet. I had some broken links, but have repaired them now -- so if you tried them before and couldn't link, try them again, please. Judith Polakoff has a amazing eye!

      Tuesday, March 27, 2007

      Back from Florida

      I haven't posted in quite a while. We just got back from a long weekend visit to Florida. I got to see Charlie & check out where he's living (I approve), see Tom and Christy and meet Miss Lily (she's a sweetie) and go to a Tigers Spring training game (they beat the Washington Nationals in the bottom of the ninth -- a great finish)!

      I'll post some pictures later -- we had a wonderful time, but it's good to be home. Now there's laundry to do and other stuff to get out of vacation mode and get in gear to go back to work tomorrow :-(.

      Monday, March 12, 2007

      Spring is FINALLY coming!

      I haven't posted in a long time! It's just been so grey and gloomy and nothing has inspired me. Friday, though, I heard a sandhill crane flying over and today I heard a redwinged blackbird down by our pond. It was sunny and in the 50s here today. I know that doesn't seem very warm to those of you who live in Florida, California or Georgia, gentle readers, but it's cause for celebration here. I'm thinking of getting the Beetle out this weekend!

      Some interesting sandhill facts: they mate for life (they can live to be 20) and usually only have 2 chicks a year. The males do a really crazy mating dance, jumping into the air and flapping their wings. Here's a picture of a pair of sandhills for your education and enjoyment.

      Tuesday, February 20, 2007

      Pictures of Lily

      Now that Crit has posted some pictures of Lily on her blog, I can, too. I've been excited about this little one since the first moment I heard of her existence -- I'm almost surprised at how excited, considering I'm a great-aunt and not a grandma. What a blessing babies are (and, oh, don't those big cheeks look familiar)! I'm really happy for you, Christy & Tom. I'm so looking forward to seeing the three of you when we come down in March -- tell Lily her auntie's on her way soon!

      Monday, February 19, 2007

      Arnold Ziffel

      The year of the pig (and the cute little pic I chose) made me think of one of my favorite pigs, Arnold Ziffel! Here he is, for all of you who remember him and, especially for those of you who don't.
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