Thursday, December 27, 2012


I grew up in northern California.  Within driving distance of my house were at least 2 State Parks.  Actually, one of them, Samuel P. Taylor State Park, was within biking distance if you and your brother were in the mood and driving distance if you were ditching church.   Mt. Tamalpais State Park was even closer, as the crow flies, but much harder to bike to, as it was a horrid climb on very narrow roads.  This was before the advent of bike paths.

There were redwoods in these parks and camping facilities and outside amphitheaters and hiking trails with rails and graded steps out of stone.  I loved these parks.  When I was a teenager, I was convinced that God was in those parks.  Now I know He is within me, but I was not so sure back then and I felt closer to Him there.

It never occurred to me wonder about the infrastructure of the parks.  I learned later that almost all of the construction done in those parks; the ranger stations, the benches in the amphitheaters, the amphitheaters themselves,  the outdoor showers, the concession stands, the trails, the bridges, the trail markers, was done by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

One of our area museums, where Julie and I went with the boy to escape the crowds of Christmas consumerism, currently has an exhibit about the CCC.  This exhibit includes lots of memorabilia, including schedules, booklets, clothes and such and a life size model of one of the two man wood floor tents that the guys lived in.  On the wall were numerous pictures of local CCC projects.  I was astounded to learn that there once was a Hereford State Park.  Our golf course pro shop used to be the boat house (we have no lake now) and the local VFW was the concession stand at the park.  As soon as I read this, I recognized the architecture and use of local building materials.

 I love this Country, for taking a desperate time and situation, and making something so life-affirming and lasting.  Unfortunately, a lot of these buildings and bridges are falling into disrepair.  Maybe it's time for Congress to take another look at a program that actually worked.

PPHM 12-20-2012

These pictures were taken at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, TX.  I will be blogging more about other exhibits but this is for Juls, so she'll have her Christmas picture of her with her little man.  Merry Christmas, baby!

 My two favorite people.
 The exhibit he loves best.
This shall be the "before" picture!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

We are celebrating the family portion of Christmas tomorrow, on the 22nd, so CJ, following family tradition got to open one gift on Christmas eve.  I got to pick the gift.

 Opening the gift.

 You got me dishes?

 You got me SOCKS?

 There must be something IN the socks.  Grandma wouldn't buy me SOCKS!

Socks....Grandma bought me socks.  Thank you, Grandma.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

A friend of mine posted a picture like this on facebook and asked if any of us were old enough to remember it.  Silly question.

When I was a very little girl, we always had a real Christmas tree, usually a Douglas fir, because Mom liked the spaces between the boughs.  She may have liked the spaces but she HATED the needles.

When I was around 8 or 9, my parents bought an artificial tree, white flocked, with a color wheel which rotated and bathed the tree in red, blue, green, or orange light.  On this wonderful tree, Mom hung all maroon bulbs.  I don't know why.

Then all of us kids grew up and moved out.  The years that we all came home for Christmas, Mom would break out the tree and we all made fun of it.  Not very charitable and not very Christmassy but very, very easy to do.  It was a terrible tree.

In 1975, Mom bought one of these trees.  Vern's wife made it in pottery class.  Actually, I'm pretty sure she bought the greenware and glazed it but she made it nonetheless.  Vern was a guy who worked with my Dad and the first car I drove after Steve died was a 1960 Cadillac that Mom and Dad bought from Vern for me.

Anyway, this tree lived on top of Mom's TV from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Day and, no matter how much we harangued her, this was the tree ever after.

I think I have sort of compromised.  I have an artificial tree, but is is a Scottish pine because I like the fullness.  It is about 3 feet tall and it sits on a console table that I have because that way the dogs wouldn't knock it over.  Looking at it tonight, I think that I may have combined all the trees of my childhood into one. Now all I need is a color wheel!

Monday, November 26, 2012


I like charity.  It used to be a common word.  The three cardinal virtues were Faith, Hope, and Charity.  Then the word, charity, got a bad reputation and receiving charity hurt people's self-esteem so it was changed to Faith, Hope, and Love.

The words are interchangeable.  Charity comes from Love and Love begets Charity.

I was about to type that I had grown up in a very charitable household.  Hmmmm.  I grew up in a household where money was given to the Church, old clothes were given to the Good Will, old items were given to the Salvation Army and a donation was made to whatever charity requested it, whether it was money or blankets or food.

We were not so charitable to each other.  We were not always kind nor loving.  I have often thought that if we used our company manners with family, the world would be a more pleasant place.  We see a stranger on the street, smile, and say, "Good morning.  How are you today?".  We see a family member coming in the house and we say, "What's wrong with you?".  I'll have to think about this for a while.  I do know that as I have gotten older, I am more conscious of the hurt my words can cause.  I try to be careful about this, which those of you reading this who were screamed at and yelled at and called horrible, rotten things,  know, was not always the case.

Anyway, Charity is a good thing.  It is not just giving the food, it is providing training so that someone can be self-sufficient.  It is not just giving clothing, it is giving a hug and a smile along with the clothing.  It is not just doing charitable things, it is taking along the kids and grandkids so that they, too, can know the joy of giving. It is not just a seasonal thing, either.  Believe it or not, people have to eat all year long.  They have to pay their bills all year long.  They need a hand all year long.  They need a smile each and every day.

I am fortunate in so many ways.  I grew up Catholic and Catholic Family Services was always there.  It is where I went for Lamaze classes when I was pregnant with my oldest child.  It is who I called for support when I was pregnant with my 2nd child and going through a bit of a rough patch.  It is who helped my daughter find the very loving family that my granddaughter is a part of.  But Charity is also not just Catholic - it is catholic.

When I was a very young widow, my sister's boss, who was Jewish (he died in 2011) helped me financially and emotionally. He did not give me money but it was through him that his lawyers handled what needed to be handled.  It was through him that his accountants helped me through those first years.  It was through him that I bought my first house.  He wanted to make sure that it was a good house in a good neighborhood and that it would shelter me and my baby.  He brought his daughter along the day we looked at the house.  I did not know then, but I do now.  He was teaching her Charity.

I see myself now as a charitable person.  I hope that is how others see me, too.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


My word for today is recipe.  It seems very fitting for this time of year because this is when I long for all the things my mom used to make.  My mom was not big on pastries or desserts (except pies made in the summer and frozen for when the berries and rhubarb were out of season).  She was, though, an exceptionally good cook.

As stated previously, we were spoiled.  Special occasions such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas generally rated a ham and a turkey because at least one of us wouldn't eat one of them.  The rest of the year, though, Mom worked on the "it's on your plate, eat it" method of menu-planning.

I wish I had her recipes.  They lived in a drawer.  Not the drawer right under the dish drainer.  That one was for Dad's Raleigh coupons.  The recipes lived in the drawer to the left of that one.  Some were hand-written on 3 x 5 cards and stored in an old Tootsie Roll box.  Some of those cards, in particular the one for Gen Sewell's Banana Nut Bread, had seen better days.  They were stained and spilled upon and much the worse for wear.  There was also a brown, spiral bound loose leaf book with some hand-written recipes.  We didn't use the book much.  We didn't use the box much either, to be honest.  Most of Mom's recipes were in her head.

Some of Mom's recipes live on.  Her recipe for glorified rice, traditionally served with the ham, is still being served at my house, at my daughter's house, and, as I recently learned, at my nephew's.  Mom would be pleased.  I have no exact measurements for this recipe because I don't think my mom ever "measured" anything, unless she was baking.  Maybe that's why she wasn't fond of it.

Cooked white rice (and no, Uncle Ben's instant won't do.  You need to actually cook the rice).
Crushed pineapple
Whipped cream (and no, cool whip won't do.  You need to actually whip it).
Mini marshmallows

That's it.  Mix it all together till it looks right, all blended and moist.  The directions in parentheses are courtesy of Juls, whose Glorified Rice last year was so  much better than mine the year before.  I tend to take shortcuts.  Sometimes they work.  In this case, not so much. This also makes a wonderful "morning after Holiday" breakfast, if there's any left.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Friday

Yesterday was Black Friday.  Interesting name, Black Friday.  I understand that it came to be since the first shopping day of the Christmas season was traditionally the first day that a lot of stores saw their books go into the "black", that is, to show a profit for the year.  After that first day, the rest of the year was gravy.

I am amused that the only other day that I can think of that is referred to as "black" anything is Black Tuesday.  You remember - the day in 1929 when the stock market crashed, when men leapt to their deaths from Wall Street offices, when the Great Depression began.

I think that the current Black Friday more resembles Black Tuesday than it should.  It was the day in 2012 when mob mentality ruled the stores, when men physically fought over who got to buy the trampoline at WalMart, when the Great Depression began.

I remember Christmas shopping.  I loved Christmas shopping.  When I was growing up, everyone in my family got a gift from every other member of my family.  When I was very small, Mom bought the presents we gave my Dad and Dad gave us the money to buy presents for Mom.  Some things were tradition, year after year.  Dad always got red handkerchiefs for work, JC Penney white pima cotton T shirts, boxer shorts, Old Spice, and a carton of cigarettes (they came in already decorated boxes).  Mom got a new nightgown, a new robe, new slippers, Desert Flower hand lotion, white "go to Church" embroidered handkerchiefs from the 5 & 10, and, after my oldest sister bought them the first time, Bromley lemon soaps that came from England in a little wooden crate.

Christmas shopping was an event.  You dressed for it, you went to town, you bought your gifts, and then, if you were very lucky, you got to have lunch in the mezzanine of the department store.  Ladies wore holiday corsages on their coats and everyone seemed a bit more patient, a bit kinder.

The only time I go to a mall now is when my grandson and I do the Salvation Army Angel Tree.  We make it an event.  We go to town, we buy our gifts, always starting with a book, and then, when we are done, we have lunch together and I get a new picture of him with Santa.  He humors me now by allowing this and it is one of the things that I most appreciate in him - his kindness.

So, I hope you all survived Black Friday.  I hope those of you who attended saved enough money to make it worth your time.  I wish you all a kinder, gentler, more civil Christmas shopping season.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I have been unable to think of topics lately that do not either bore me or terrify me so I asked my child to give me a word, or a topic, a day.  I guess I have been unable to commit to writing.  Her first topic for me?  Commitment.

Commitment is defined as an obligation, an undertaking, application.

I think of many things when I think of commitment and of many people.  My parents were committed to their family.  No matter how often they disagreed or how little they seemed to enjoy being with each other, they were a unit.  I realize that my older siblings do not have the same memories that I have.  Mom often said that they, especially the two older girls, had different parents.  Younger parents, funner parents, parents who were less care-worn.  I, on the other hand, being the youngest, had the older parents, busier parents, more financially stable parents.  But they were committed to raising us kids, to being contributing members of their parish, to giving us a good work ethic and sense of responsibility.  I think they succeeded.

I think of my mom and her friend, our neighbor, Lucy.  They were best friends.  They built their houses together, back yard to back yard, and raised their kids together, at least the oldest two in each family.  Lucy quit after two, but Mom had two more, several years later.  When Lucy's husband was injured in a construction accident and Lucy had to go to school to go to work, Mom went with her.  When Mom and Dad needed to go somewhere, my brother and I stayed with Lucy.  When Lucy needed someone to stay with her husband when she worked nights, my brother stayed with Louie.  Mom and Lucy worked together, went to church together and had coffee every afternoon after they woke up, both of them working the graveyard shift.  Mom was committed to her friendship and Lucy to hers.

I think of my marriage.  It is odd, being separated, to think of this but I have been.  And I am - committed to my marriage.  Marriage is a sacrament and, as such, has certain requirements and expectations.  I am still married and I am still committed, or maybe I just should be.  I did not leave my husband because of any desire on my part to end our marriage but more out of a sense of self-preservation and self-worth.  He is still my husband and I still love him.

I think of my daughter's non-marriage.  My daughter does not like being married.  Something about the word makes her feel twitchy and trapped. This week, she and her new husband were not married.  She and her new husband had a commitment ceremony and are now, in the eyes of the state of Texas, husband and wife.  They are committed to each other and to my grandson.  I think that all three are very lucky and very blessed.

Commitment papers are also issued by a court to send someone for psychiatric help when they are deemed to be a "danger to themselves or others."  So far, I am not, nor have I been, thusly committed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Meeting and Farewell

 Doug and HotRod (the two men in Rhonda's life)

Raise 'em up like you want them to go.

Our friend, Doug Bolton, died today. He will be greatly missed by many people. I was thinking about the Boltons today and remembered the first day I met them. I was with Julie and we were at the Rafter B, which the Boltons own, and which is where Julie boards her horse(s). It was one then, it is three now. Doug was there and Julie introduced us. We were making small talk when Rhonda drove in along with a friend of hers. They had been to town and on the way back, had passed a pickup truck and horse trailer on the side of the road. They stopped to see if help was needed. It was a broke-down (actually out of gas) rodeo cowboy. Rhonda told him to stay there, came home, explained the situation to Doug and asked if she could go get the cowboy, bring him home and put him to work in exchange for a tank of gas. Doug looked at Rhonda, told her that he trusted her judgement and to "go where the Lord leads you. Take the gun". I knew then that everyone I loved would always be safe if Doug was around. Rest in peace, friend, and God? You got yourself a good one.

 Good Bye and Godspeed, Doug.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

and the embers are still glowing

I have been widowed and I have been divorced.  I always said that being a widow was easier because, as hard as it is, it just is.  A dead husband stays dead.  A husband from whom you are divorced has the nasty habit of breathing on a regular basis.  They stay in your life, however peripherally, until you die.  This is especially true if you share children.

I have been divorced and am now separated.  I can now say that being divorced is easier.  I have always been, and still am, very good at ignoring those things which annoy me.  Ex-husbands fall into this category.  I have two ex-husbands and have not seen either one in decades.  I'm sure this is a mutual choice.

Being separated is harder.  Our finances are still entwined.  Our animals still belong to both of us.  We still share a post office box.  We did attend social events together until he joined his outlaw motorcycle club.  It is just hard.  We have been part of each others' lives for over 25 years.  It is 2nd nature for me to call him - with news, with requests, for help, just to chat - and now I don't.  I found out that he is having a medical procedure and someone else is taking him.  Such a stupid thing to be upset about but I am.  I am the one who moved out originally and I am the one who severed all contact when he decided to be "one of them".

There is a finality to death.

This just keeps getting harder.

I am tired and I think that's part of the problem.  I can no longer differentiate between physical, emotional, and spiritual fatigue.  But I am tired.  I am mostly tired of being a whiny, depressed, full-of-myself complainer.  Hopefully, my next post will be more me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Crash and Burn

I have often said that I cannot tell all of my story because it is not just mine.  This is still true.  It occurs to me, though, that if I don't tell my story someone else will.

When Shorty and I first started dating, I was a dispatcher for the Sheriff's Office and he was a Master Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy.  We lived in a small town in the California desert where motorcycles were prevalent.  Shorty and a lot of his friends rode Harleys.  I did not.  The only things that I knew about bikes and bikers were what I knew from my job.  This information did not give me a very favorable view of motorcycle clubs and/or gangs.

This was not a problem with Shorty.  He maintained that the reason to ride a bike was for the freedom; the freedom of the road, the freedom from restriction, the freedom to be who you really were.  He maintained that the minute you joined a club, any club, whether it was an outlaw gang or a sanctioned club, you immediately gave up your freedom.  You belonged to someone else.  Someone else told you when to ride, where to ride, and who to ride with...or not.

He had a bunch of friends who rode together but only when it worked out that way.  There were no meetings, no dues, no rules, no regs.  Just a bunch of bros riding together, enjoying the ride and the company.

This was how it was for 25 plus years.  Shorty was, and always will be, a biker.

In March of this year, I moved into my own house and we separated.  The reasons had nothing to do with his motorcycle or my job.

I always knew that Shorty did not like to be alone.  How much he disliked being alone soon became evident.  He joined the VFW.  He joined the Elks.  He found new friends to ride with and party with (although the partying when you're 68 and diabetic is a great deal different from when you're 41 and Jack is your best friend).  It turns out that Shorty was a groupie...and for 27 years, I was his group.  I left and he looked elsewhere.

He and his friends decided to start their own club.  He showed up one day with a patch on his vest, a logo on his hat, and an abbreviation (SYLB) also on his hat.  I asked what it stood for and he told me.  It references an outlaw motorcycle club that I will not publicize in my blog.  I asked him what the hell he was doing and he said that he wasn't really part of them, he just needed their approval to wear his own patch because he lives in their territory.

I went sideways.

I told him that I was pretty sure that the Blue Knights didn't get permission from these miscreants to wear their patch.  I told him that I was pretty sure that the Vietnam Vets motorcycle club didn't get permission from these jerks to wear their patch.  I told him that I was pretty sure that the Christian Motorcycle Club didn't get permission from this outlaw club to wear their patch.  He kept telling me that it was no big thing, that he wasn't part of them, that I was making a mountain out of a molehill.  I kept telling him that we didn't live in their g.d. territory, we lived in the state of Texas in the United States of America and that I could not understand him giving up the freedom for which he fought so that some cop-hating assholes could give him "permission" to wear a patch.  I asked why he didn't join one of the sanctioned clubs previously mentioned instead of joining an outlaw club.  He had no answer except that I didn't understand.

I asked how he could show so little respect for what I do for a living, what his daughter does for a living. I asked how he could have so little respect for the laws of the country for which he gave 25 years of his life. I asked him how he could put me in such a compromising position.   He said it didn't matter and I was overreacting.

I told him that I thought that he was a coward and that I was ashamed to be his wife.

I told him that I did not want his vest or his patch or his hat in my house or on his body when we were together.  We have not been together since.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Courageous Generation

The generation before mine is often called "The Best Generation".  I have no argument with that.  They, as a whole, were an amazing group of people who accomplished great things.

I would like, though, to nominate my generation as "The Most Courageous Generation".  This is why.

The economy, as we know, is horrendous.  Budget deficits abound and with those deficits come layoffs.  I know more than one person who, when their position was deleted or their company went under, lost their jobs.  These are educated, accomplished people who thought that, after years of service, they had job security.  They did not.

So, these people who were suddenly unemployed, what did they do?  Did they give up their homes?  No, but some did lose them when they couldn't find work.  Did they apply for welfare?  The folks I know didn't, at least not until they had used all of their own resources and some of their family's.  Did they sit and wait for the government to help them?  No, they did not.

Most of them, after looking for a new position for months, after sending out resume after resume, after travelling to interview after interview, often on their own dime, did not find a new job in their chosen field.  A lot of them were not hired because of their age.  We all know that employers cannot discriminate on the basis of age.  We all know that employers do.  I am not blaming them.

But, what did those people of my generation do?  They looked around.  They asked for help.  They got training in fields that they never, ever thought of as a career.  I know attorneys who are truck drivers.  I know business owners who became door greeters at the big box store.  I know accountants who are now private tutors.

Most of these people are not making, monetarily, what they did in their previous lives.  Most of these people, however, can still look at themselves in the mirror when they get dressed to go to work and know that they have done the best they can.  That they are doing the best that they can.

It takes a special kind of courage to face a world that you never intended to enter and to make a success of it.  It takes a special kind of courage to get up every day and do what needs to be done, whether it is going to school or knocking on doors or calling old friends for leads or making cold calls for jobs.  It takes a special kind of courage to not give up, to not sit in a government provided house, eating government provided food, and just waiting for the job fairy to show up with that 6 figure job.

So, friends,  I am proud of you.  I am proud of each and every one of you and I am proud to call you my friends.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Boysenberry Memories

Yesterday my brother told me that he had picked 4 lbs of boysenberries.  I immediately offered to pay shipping on the jam or jelly or whatever he wanted to do with them.

My parents had boysenberries in their yard - a LOT of boysenberries in their yard.  It seems, looking back, that a good part of our summer was ruled by the boysenberries.  If we weren't watering them, we were picking them.  Yep, that was the extent of it.  Turning on a hose and putting berries into a colander and taking them into the house.

From there, my mother would work her magic.  Those berries became jam and jelly and pie and ice cream topping and sometimes just berries in a bowl with milk.

I hated boysenberries.  All we ever got on our peanut butter sandwiches was miserable homemade jams and jellies.  I used to trade at lunch with whoever had Welch's grape jelly.  We, poor abused children, never got store bought jelly.

My mother also had the audacity to make us take homemade cookies in our school lunches, which I tried to trade for Oreos.  The flip side of this, of course, is that the children with Welch's and Oreos were always more than willing to trade for things made by Mom.

Funny the things that stick with us.  My mother kept her flour and sugar in large square canisters with screw tops in the "back door in the cupboard".  My brother says they were pickle jars but I don't remember that.  I do know that Anchor Hocking makes them now.  I know this because I bought myself some and then, when my daughter said that she wanted canisters like her grandma's, I bought her some.

The "back door in the cupboard"?  I have no idea.  It was the cabinet in the kitchen to the right of the sink against the back wall.  It was hard to get into, unless you were tall which we all were, thank goodness.  The cupboard had two doors and the one furthest away was the "back door".  So, if Ma wanted something from there or is we asked where something was, the answer was sometimes "the back door in the cupboard".  It's where she kept things she didn't use often.

Things she used every day were in the large cupboard (twice the size of the back door cupboard) above the pull out cutting board.  This is where the salt and pepper, butter, mustard and even mayonnaise were kept, on the bottom shelf, handy for sandwich making.  None of us died from the unrefrigerated mayo but I did NOT like the taste and never used it on my sandwiches.  I do keep my butter in my cupboard, above the part of the counter where I make sandwiches, right next to the mustard.

It pleases me to know that Ma's canisters are alive and well in my brother's house, as well as in my memory and my child's memory.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Yet more opportunities

We currently have 4 dispatchers working 5 days each to cover 21 shifts per week.  This leaves one shift open and the 4 of us rotate covering that shift.  We are in the process of hiring a 5th dispatcher who covers that shift along with vacations, holidays, sick days, etc.  If none of those situations arise, the 5th dispatcher, to guarantee her a 40 hour week, works in the office.

One of the dispatchers wanted the weekend off for her child's birthday.  No problem.  She was scheduled for days on Saturday and days and 1/2 of evenings on Sunday.  The night girl stayed over 4 hours on Saturday and the evening girl came in 4 hours early on Saturday and all was right with the world.  I had planned to cover the 12 hours on Sunday myself.

The night girl called on evenings and said that she was not coming in and probably wouldn't be back.  When asked why she did not give two weeks notice, she said that she knew that if she did, the rest of us would just take time off before she left.  She's probably right.

She just got back from vacation and has used all of her available holidays.  One of the other girls has 3 vacation days she must use before September 1st and I had a week of vacation scheduled starting in two weeks.

So, because this person does not want to work 8 hours overtime a month and does not want to work her two days off while I am on vacation, the three of us who are left, who worked our days off while she was on vacation, now get to work 7 days a week for the foreseeable future.  If a new dispatcher were hired tomorrow, there is still a three month training period.

To say that I am less than pleased is an understatement.

Is there some sort of litmus test for selfishness that I could use for the new-hires?

Just venting and didn't want to throw it on facebook....sorry y'all for whining....there are ample opportunities for success in the back room.

Ample Opportunities

When I worked for one of large retail establishments, we used to have morning meetings.  At these meetings, the supervisors would address any issues in the store.  The managers, who had all been to management classes, were very careful to never say anything negative and to always be encouraging.

One day, when the stockroom was in utter chaos, the manager said, "There are ample opportunities for success in the back room".  We all laughed and then we went and worked on the back room.

I use this saying now whenever things are in chaos.  "There are ample opportunities for success in..........".

I am telling this story so that the next one will make sense.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Real Presence

On Wednesday afternoon, after work, I spend an hour at chuch in Blessed Adoration.  We Catholics believe in the "Real Presence".  That is, we believe that once the host is consecrated during Mass, it IS the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  A consecrated host is kept in the monstrance inside the tabernacle on the altar.  St. Anthony's, like many churches, has a front altar and a back altar.  The back altar, directly under the crucifix in the sanctuary is where the tabernacle resides.  It is also where the priest used to celebrate the Mass pre-Vatican II.  Most churches left that altar in place and put another altar further toward the nave of the church, where the pews are.  The priest now celebrates Mass on this altar, facing the congregation.

The front altar is where, on Wednesdays, our Lord is taken from the tabernacle and is placed, in the monstrance, so that we can be physically closer to Him.  Blessed Adoration is a time to pray, to reflect, sometimes to just visit, to just "be" in His presence.

Now, when I was a child, for some reason, only grownups went to Blessed Adoration.  I prayed, as did most of my classmates and friends, with my attention on the crucifix.  It is part and parcel of our faith, to remember not just God's love, but His sacrifice.  I also learned that God was in Heaven and to look upward in faith.

So, yesterday, I found myself in prayer, focusing not on our Lord Himself, present in the monstrance but focusing on the crucifix.  I brought myself back several times and found myself again looking upward in prayer.  I started to wonder why.  I also started wondering why I was wondering instead of praying but that's a whole 'nother blog.

I think that maybe it is because looking at Him is just too hard - partly because I know that I am not worthy and partly because, when I do look at Him, I see the real me reflected in His brilliance.  It is easier for me to focus on a portrayal of Him than on Him.  I feel sort of like the little child who hides their face when they are talking to a grownup because they are afraid to look at them.

I have no answers and to be honest, I don't expect any.  I will go every Wednesday and I will spend an hour with Him and even if I can't do it the way I think it should be done, at least I am doing it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Bocking Chicken

A friend of mine posted her opinion about the "support Chick-Fil-A" movement and protests today.  She stated that she was tired of reading and sorting through all of the hate-mongers on facebook.

For those of you who don't know, or for my family reading this in the future, a little background.  Chick-Fil-A is a family owned fast food restaurant specializing in chicken.  The owner is Christian and his stores (all 1600+) are closed on Sunday so that his employees can spend the Lord's Day with the Lord and with their families.  He recently came out publicly in opposition to gay and lesbian marriages.  His stores do not refuse to serve gays or lesbians.  He does not refuse to hire gays or lesbians.  He merely stated that he is opposed, for religious reasons, to gay and lesbian marriage.

And the maelstrom ensued.  He was praised by some.  He was villified by some.  Mayors of some cities called for the ouster of all Chick-Fil-A franchises.

Today, August 1, was "support your local Chick-Fil-a" Day.  Those who agreed with the owner should eat at his restaurants.  Those who neither agreed nor disagreed but firmly believe in his right to believe whatever he wants and to publicly espouse it should eat at his restaurants.  Those who disagreed, of course, showed up in protest.

Now, back to my friend.  She is one of the most gracious and tolerant Christians that I know.  It occurred to me after I commented on her post that, aside from one post from my daughter and the one from my friend, I had not ready ANY posts about Chick-Fil-A.

I know that my friends are aware of the situation.  I know that all of my friends have opinions.  I think that my friends use other formats to share their opinions.  I know that a lot of my friends, like me, do not view Facebook as a news source.  It is a place to touch base, a place to share personal triumphs and tragedies, a place of comfort and denial.

So maybe part of the problem today is that my friend had to read all of the diatribes because her friends have not yet learned this.  So, to her, maybe it's time to winnow out your friends and to rid your life of some of the negativity.  To my friends, thank you and God bless you, one and all.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How I am today

I have forgotten.  I have forgotten how to write complete sentences.  I have forgotten to share my life with my friends who live in the internet.  I have forgotten to look at the bright side of life.  I have forgotten how to be Pollyanna.  Time to regroup.

I miss my dogs.  My dogs live with my husband because they are too old to have to adapt to change AND my landlord won't let me have them.  I see them occasionally but not as often as I should.  I did help take them to the vet last week for their shots - all their regular vaccines and rattlesnake vaccine and their nails clipped. This would be why the inside of my pickup is upholstered in dog hair.  Duck had to be lifted into the pickup and Holly needed her arse hoisted.  They are getting old.  They were, however, VERY good at the vets and got their nails clipped, too.  The bright spot of this story is that my vet (and vet tech) love me.  All three dogs, all three shots and nails, all for $120  God knew what He was doing when He landed myself in this town all those years ago.

The bright side?  My daughter can walk in my house without taking an allergy pill.  I no longer am covered in dog hair.  I am not normally the one who has to sit with Bonnie while she eats so that the big dogs don't steal her food.

I think living without my dogs is sort of like dieting.  This is going to sound harsh but I don't know how else to explain it.  I quit smoking, cold turkey, in 1990.  I quit drinking when I started driving a semi.  I am good at quitting things.  I can't just quit eating.  I have to eat correctly, to eat less, to eat better food.  I think that if the dogs died, I could grieve.  I would grieve.  I would fall apart...and then it would be over.  Now, I just don't get to be such an everyday part of their life that they can just ignore me.  I am now a reason for barking and leaping (that would be Bonnie) and lots and lots of touching and licking.  Then I leave and I am sad...and it is never over.

Wow, I am sure am glad I decided to resurrect Pollyanna!

Anyway, this is how I am today.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Secret to Thick Hair

My cousin, Linda, posted a picture earlier today on facebook, asking if anyone remembered using one.  I do, but that is not what dragged me back into blogdom.

Family lore.  I love family lore.  I have no idea if this story is true or not as I was not born when it takes place but I heard it a lot of times and, since my parents NEVER lied, it must be true.

There are 4 of us kids.  Mary, the oldest, has a lot of hair but it is very fine.  Dorothy has gorgeous, thick, wavy hair and mine is just shy of being as thick as hers.  My brother, unfortunately, took after Dad.  Thin hair, thinning.

Whenever the subject of hair texture came up, my Mom would tell us about when Mary and Dorothy were little and they were back in Iowa visiting on the farm.  I don't know whose farm.  I don't even know which side of the family except I think it must have been Mom's side because she was amused rather than incensed.

My sister, Dorothy, was in the milking barn and fell in the cow gutter.  Yep, covered in everything that is in a cow gutter.  She was crying and dirty and nasty and smelly and one of the "boys" went to take her up to the house.  My grandma, looking at this filthy, smelly child decreed that she was not coming into the house in that condition.

So, in the middle of winter, or so the story goes, my sister was forcibly held under the outdoor water pump and watered down until she was deemed clean enough to go into Grandma's house.

And forever after, the reason that Dorothy has the best hair out of the four of us is that it was fertilized!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I feel good today

I am pleased with myself today.  I actually finished several tasks at work, mainly involving warrants.

I have a love/hate relationship with warrants, much like my relationship with math, and for some of the same reasons.

Anyway, warrants, when they come down fro the court, are entered into the nationwide law enforcement computer system.  Some warrants are only extraditable (enforceable) in the state where they are issued or portions thereof and some are good in all 50 states.

When someone is arrested on one of our warrants, if it is outside of our county, we confirm the warrant by teletype, thus placing a hold on that person.  In some instances a bond has been set and in some instances, depending on the severity and frequency of the crime, the person arrested is to be held without bond.

We then wait to hear from the arresting agency.  If there are local charges pending, those charges must be dispensed with before we can take custody of the subject.  If there is a bond amount set, it is possible for the person to post bond wherever he was arrested and secure his release thusly.  If the person is to be held without bond, he cannot secure his release.

When a person has satisfied local charges and cannot post bond, we are notified by the arresting agency via teletype after which, as a rule, we have 10 days to go and get him.

When a person secures their release by posting bond, the arresting agency should send a teletype stating that the person has posted bond, the amount and whether cash or through a bail bond company.

This last step often gets forgotten.  Either the jailers forget to ask or the dispatchers forget to send it.

The drawer which holds our warrants that have been served elsewhere held about 50 warrants earlier today.  I sent teletypes to the arresting agency for each warrant requesting the disposition of the arrestee and the warrant.  I have done this before and it is often akin to throwing a message in a bottle into the ebbing tide.


Today, I actually got responses on 17 different warrants.  That is 17 warrants that are on their way out of my office and on to the next step in the process.

I realize this is not all that earth-shattering.  I did not reinvent the wheel nor did I find a cure for cancer.

I did, however, complete something.

My job is such that I rarely get to see anything to completion.  I take calls, I dispatch deputies and the system does it's job.  I rarely get to see the finish.

Today, I did.  And it feels good.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Love or obsession?

My blog has evidently become a place for me to write those things too lengthy to fit in a facebook status.  I was blogsurfing today.  One of the blogs I read belongs to a woman I started reading because she, like me, is a dog person.  She is younger than I, married, with two children.  Her oldest child, who, two years ago committed suicide in her driveway during a family argument by shooting himself in the head, would have turned 23 today.

I cannot, thank God, imagine her pain.

She said today, in her blog, that she wished to God it had been her and not him.  She uses her blog, which used to chronicle her life, her kids' lives and her dogs' lives, to pour out sorrow, anger, guilt, and self-recrimination.

I wonder at what point grief becomes selfishness?  I am not judging her.  Truly, I am not.  She does, however have a husband and a younger child who love her, are with her, hold her when she cries, and grieve with her and, I am sure, need her.  I wonder how they feel when they read that she would rather be dead than be with them.  I pray for her.  I pray for her husband.  I pray for her sons, both of them.

It is so hard, though, to write another supportive comment when I just want to tell her to quit being so selfish and to cherish the love that still surrounds her, that has always surrounded her.

So, please, pray for my friend and her family and pray for me, too.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

but of course, he couldn't

When last heard from, my older gentleman was still in the lobby of the jail.  Jails are not hotels.  They are not even hostels.  They are regulated, very strictly, by more than one agency.  There are LOTS of rules.  One of those rules is that you cannot house people who are not under arrest.

You cannot arrest someone for not wanting to be alone.

This gentleman, who was 75 years old, is not a transient.  He is from here.  He lives here.  He has a family here.      He did not want to go home because his son yells at him.  I am in no way judging his son.  I am merely stating what the gentleman said.  One of the deputies spent quite a bit of time talking and listening, mostly listening.  Then he and the gentleman left the building together and got into the patrol unit.

Now here is one of the dichotomies of my job.  Sometimes you don't get to know the end of the story.

I know the deputy took the gentleman home.  I can assume that he spoke to the family.  I can hope that all is better.  I can pray for God's grace on this man and his family and on the deputy who took time to listen, and the social services lady who took time to listen, and the jailer who took time to listen, and on you, for taking the time to listen to me.

Friday, June 8, 2012

He wanted to stay

I love my job.  I have always loved my job.  I jokingly say that it's the only job in the world where they pay you to tell cops where to go.  I love knowing that, if I do my job properly, someone else's day should be just a little bit better.

Today was not one of those days.

I have, over the course of my career, handled more than one truly tragic event.  I do not remember ever being so sad.  I have been angry and outraged and just plain pissed off but today just made me sad.

The dispatch center is located in the jail itself and therefore is very secure.  There is the door to the street which opens into a vestibule.  In this vestibule is a button and speaker through which you can state your business and then the door from the vestibule into the jail lobby is buzzed open.  Once you are in the lobby, there is a glass window with another button and speaker through which you can communicate with the jailer, once they are called to the communications office.

Today, an older gentleman came into the vestibule.  He buzzed and I said, "Can I help you?".  He said something which was unintelligible to me.  This often happens, in part because the speaker system is old and in part because a large portion of our populations speaks Spanish.  I do not.  I buzzed him in and asked one of the jailers, who does speak Spanish, if he could find out what the gentleman wanted.

He wanted to stay.

He said that he needed help.  His head hurt and his stomach hurt and he just wanted to stay.  I asked if he needed an ambulance and he declined.  I called upstairs and got hold of the lady in social services and she came down to see if she could help - to see if he needed lodging.  He didn't need lodging.  He just wanted to stay.

He had already been to the doctor.  He just wanted to be somewhere where there were people who could watch him.  He just didn't want to be alone . . . so he thought of the jail, where there were beds and people who would watch you while you slept and keep you safe.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Small Traditions

I think that the traditions that mean the most to me are the small ones - the ones that never even register as traditions.

I think of a story I heard a long time ago about a family trying to make memories for their daughter.  The dad worked.  The mom worked.  The family worked and had a nice little routine.  The mom and the dad saved and saved and saved until they could spend a weekend with their daughter making the memories that would stay with her forever.  They went out to breakfast, they went to an amusement park - you know, the one with the ears, they went out to dinner and then on Sunday they spent the day at the beach.  As they were heading home on Sunday evening, the dad said something about going to bed because the next day was a school day.

To his shock, the little girl started crying.  He asked why and she said that the weekend COULDN'T be over.  He tried to reason with her, saying that he knew it had been a wonderful weekend but that all good things had to come to an end.  She just kept crying, saying that the weekend couldn't be over.

The dad finally asked, "Why?" and the little girl responded, "Because we haven't been to the dump."

THAT was her best weekend memory - getting to go to the dump every weekend with her daddy after they finished the yard work.

So - what reminded me of this story?  This:

This is the sprinkler that my dad favored.  This is the sprinkler that I have in my backyard.  This is, I was laughingly told when she visited the other day, the sprinkler that my daughter has in her backyard.

Let's hear it for spontaneous memories and small traditions.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day for the rest of us

The fuschias and hummingbird on the previous post were reminders of my mom.  This is for the rest of us...Happy Mother's Day, all you mothers!                                 

Happy Mother's Day

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I went, yesterday, to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  I try very hard to focus on His brilliance, to still my mind, to let my soul be refreshed.  I often fail miserably.  My mind goes a hundred miles an hour worrying about things yet to be and fretting about things already past.  I was thinking yesterday about First Holy Communion gifts.  Two of the girls in my Wednesday night class made their First Holy Communion last Saturday and I got them each a small book as a keepsake.

I remember the white children's Missal I got when I made my First Holy Communion.  It had a snap closure and a zipper pouch on the back for my rosary beads, also white of course.  Only the boys had black.  Back in the day, those were the two options for First Holy Communion gifts.  I took my Missal to Mass with me every Sunday after that until I was old enough, at Confirmation, to have a St. Joseph's Daily Missal like my mom's.  I wanted one for the longest time and often begged to borrow hers.  This was a request rarely granted.  Finally, I got one of my own.

I knew how special this Missal, and the words contained therein, were because of my mom's Missal.

The top middle drawer of my mom and dad's dresser was a small drawer.  All the middle column of drawers were small, flanked on either side by large drawers, one side my mom's and the other side my dad's.  In the top middle drawer were my mother's handkerchiefs, either embroidered or lace-edged, a lace mantilla from the pre-Vatican II days, her good scarves that my sister, Mary, gave her, her gloves and, on top of all of these Sunday treasures, her Missal.  Her rosary beads she kept in her purse, always.

The Missal was covered in black leather with gold-edged, tissue paper thin pages.  There was a red satin ribbon to mark your place.  Mom's Missal also contained a lot of holy cards - some prayer cards, some funeral cards, some that were gifts from us kids; remembrances of family, known and unknown, who had gone before.

My mom treated her Missal and the family Bible with such reverence that I remember it still.

I treat all books carefully.  It's how I was raised.  I think, though, that I need to find some of the reverence again.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Somewhere there's coke and fries

My grandson spent a few days with me last week and I put him to work! I was moving (finally) and another set of hands are always welcome. We unloaded, packed, put stuff in the pickup, drove to the new house, unloaded, put away, went back to the old house, packed, put stuff in the pickup, drove to the new house and, on the way, he said "Somewhere there's coke and fries", unloaded, put away and went and found sustenance.

This saying, which does not necessarily pertain to either coke or fries, began with my nephew.

When my nephew was 2, his dad was establishing a transmission shop in southern California and his mom would often run parts for the store. My nephew KNEW that he was not allowed to ask for things and that asking was the surest way to get a "No". One day, his mom was very busy running parts and, to be honest, I think she sort of forgot he was in the back seat and had been there for a very long time, especially for a two year old.

Suddenly, inspired, he said "Somewhere there's coke and fries". Coke and fries is what he called all foods from a fast-food restaurant, much the same way all vegetables were "ho-hos".

Kindly note, he did not ask and yes, he did get some nourishment quickly.

It just warms my heart to know that these tidbits are not forgotten.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Out of the mouths of babes

Moose and Shorty and I were at Mass tonight. Several rows ahead of us was a youngish couple with 2 little stepping stones...I would guess 2 and 3 years old. They were cute little boys but they were 2 and 3. The littlest one got more and more rambunctious the longer Mass went on and somewhere around the Gospel, hit his head on the pew. He cried, his dad carried him out and every parent in the vicinity, including us, smiled.

We smiled because our kids (or grandkids) were older.
We smiled because we have all been there.
We smiled because we could all empathize.

The dad came back and all was well until just before Communion when the same little guy hit his head on the missalette holder. He screamed, he wailed, his dad carried him out and every parent in the vicinity, including us, smiled. I leaned over to Moose and explained that we were all smiling not because we are mean but because we had all been there before and were actually thanking God that our kids had outgrown that stage.

He nodded and then said, "If it was a dog that hurt itself, you wouldn't smile".

and God help me, he was right.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Feeling Froggy

I have neglected my blog for several reasons. One, my life has been pretty depressing lately and I like to wallow alone. Two, some of the reasons my life has been depressing lately are stories that are not just mine and I don't share other people's stuff if I can help it. Three, I am a lazy procrastinator.

However, I was just over on facebook (reason #four) and remembered my profile picture. When my mom died, my daughter sent me a picture of a frog. I resurrected a blog from 2008 when I explained why we celebrate with frogs. This frog? A very special frog. Want to know why?

It's a Grenada frog.

My mother always drove Fords - big Fords with big 350 v8 engines that would fly. In 1976, in the middle of October, my mother deviated from this tradition and bought a Ford Granada. Ford no longer makes Granadas. We should all give thanks.

We lovingly referred to this car, this boring grey car, as the gutless wonder. I am sure it was economical and I am sure that the gas prices of the 70s influenced her choice but it was a gutless wonder. That car could not get out of it's own way.

If you want to know why Granadas and Grenadas will always be special to Juls and to me, the story is here.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

One Sentence Saturday #4

If you take a dog whose main field of vision is peripheral and put them into a "cone of shame" hilarity will ensue.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tuna Tartare - Not Me!

I was watching "The Chew" the other day and Clinton Kelly made me laugh out loud. I live pretty much in the middle of this country, equidistant from any coast. I have always maintained that if you cannot smell the ocean (or the gulf), you should not order seafood. Since I dislike seafood, this rule has always worked for me.

Clinton was making appetizers. First he made a chicken liver thing which is just gross. Then he made a tuna tartare appetizer. As he was describing it, he mentioned that a lot of people worry about the tuna being raw. He said that "as long as you trust your fishmonger, this should not be an issue". I laughed. I have not lived anywhere that even possessed a "fishmonger" since I left the county in which I was raised.

For some reason this reminded me of once when my child was asked why she didn't know how to cook. Without even blinking, this child of mine, who, it should be noted, was raised from the time she was 9 until she was of age by her paternal grandparents, said, "we had staff".

I'm pretty sure the "staff" got their tuna from the "fishmonger".

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Yet another thing I take for granted

Last night, I taught my fifth graders' religion class. I was, once again, reminded of all that I take for granted.

I start out every class with an opening prayer and then I read to the class from my copy of "Saint of the Day" which I have owned for at least 15 years. My copy of the book is so old that I could not find a picture online. The picture above is of the current edition. This not only gives everyone time to settle down and time for the stragglers to straggle in but the kids actually look forward to it. Last week I was sick, so last night, I read both saints.

During class, I made mention of the fact that whenever I am struggling with some spiritual problem, I open my saints' book and there is inevitably some kernel of knowledge or wisdom or guidance that pertains to whatever difficulty I am facing.

The reaction that stunned me, and humbled me, was the child who asked, in a tone of wonder, "That's YOUR book? You own that book?"

I do indeed and, come the end of the year, so will he.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Ultimate Irony

Throughout my life, by design and by happenstance, I have linked important events in my life to important dates in history and/or holidays.

My first husband and I were married 4 days before Thanksgiving.
His birthday was on Labor Day (back when it didn't move).
Our daughter was born 1 day after Thanksgiving (different year).
He died on Easter Sunday.

My next husband and I were engaged on Christmas Eve.
I married my next husband on Valentine's Day.
I threw him out in the dark of the moon, on the 6th of June (all of you C.W.McCall fans will understand).
Our daughter was born 3 days before Hallowe'en.

I married my next husband on New Year's Eve.
I found him with his mistress on the next New Year's Eve.

At this point, my mother rather vehemently requested that I not mess up any more holidays and she pointed out that the world did not really revolve around me.

I have tried ever since to abide by her wishes in this regard.

Last Saturday, on my birthday, my mother died.

Rest in Peace, Ma, and know that you were loved.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

One Sentence Saturday #3

"When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future."

Bernard Meltzer

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

One Sentence Saturday #1

My friend, Robin, at Pensieve stole this idea (sort of) from my friend, Pamela, at The Dust Will Wait who stole it (sort of) from my friend, Peter, at A Dingo Ate My Barbie.

How could three of my friends possibly be wrong about this being a great idea?

Mantra for the day - if you owe taxes, it's because you made money.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Very Peculiar Day

Today was a very peculiar day. After work, I met my husband and we looked at a house that is for sale. No, things are not better. We looked at a house for me to buy so that I can finally move out. It is a lovely little house and I have already decided where the Christmas tree will go.

We will talk to the bank and we will make an offer and hopefully it will be accepted. Somehow I just never thought that the next house we would buy would be for just one of us.

Finding a house you like - around 85,000
Making an offer on it - around 80,000
Moving in alone - priceless, I guess

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 2012

I find it hard to believe that it is half way through January and that this is my first post of the year. So far this year:

I have had two wonderful weeks in my new position as Dispatch Supervisor. After two years on graveyard shift, getting up in the morning is just kicking my derriere. There is so much to learn and so many people to get to know all over again and there is this thing in the sky when I get off work - I have learned that it is called the sun.

I have lost 10.8 pounds.

My husband and I are back down to 3 dogs. Goose, who had always rather hunt than eat from a bowl, took it upon herself, along with Piper, to use someone's goat ranch as a grocery store. She had always brought home very dead, very old, very decomposed parts to share but she brought home a very dead, very young, very fresh goat to share. Shorty, bless his heart, did what had to be done. Piper has not been seen since. I am assuming that the rancher also did what had to be done. I bear no malice toward anyone but the cowardly bastards that find it easier to dump a dog in the country than to do what has to be done. May God have mercy on them for they will find none in my heart. I am tired of having to kill dogs.

Two of my good friends, albeit friends who live in my computer, have had dogs die in the past two weeks, good and faithful dogs, members of their families for all of their lives. My heart breaks for their loss. RIP Boscoe and Buddy. Still waiting to hear the sad news about Bentley.

I am trying very hard to be cheerful. It is what I do but I am finding it difficult this January. Maybe when my body adjusts to my new schedule, it will be easier. Maybe it is because the word that keeps haunting me this year, the word that I asked God to give me to ponder this year, the word is:


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