Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas present from my dog (wink, wink): Sponsorship of a guide dog puppy named "Spirit." He is a cute little yellow lab.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas 
And a Happy New Year:)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Not about Christmas . . . maybe.

Every once in awhile something happens and I am reminded how quickly time is passing. A "shift" takes place that causes me to come up out of the routine of my life and do a double take on just what it means to be passing through this lifetime that I call my own. Do I take time often enough to realize that it won't go on forever? 

Our family recently experienced a loss. Fred, my mom's husband of four and a half years, died. In November he was here; and now he is not.  Brain cancer. From diagnosis to his passing was five weeks. And Fred lived a bunch in those last five weeks. Boy did he. He would grab the phone every time it rang and whoever was on the other end was JUST the person he wanted to talk to. He went to church, bible study, invited people over every chance he got, made time to talk to every family member one on one, started college funds for the great grandchildren, bought my mom a fantastic new sewing machine, made sure special books of his got to certain people, transferred the title of his car to my mom, imparted the little wisdoms of his life right and left like he was a major league baseball player making one magnificent play after another. I am telling you that man was busy! I think all he accomplished in those last five weeks just about wore out everybody around him. It was work to keep up! 

My mom's side of the family all came to say "goodbyes" to Fred right away after the diagnosis. That, in and of itself, said a great deal about Fred. In four and a half years he had somehow managed to connect with each of us even though we are significantly spread out geographically. He and mom made the effort to be at all the important events. He wasn't the type to sit back and say "they aren't really my family."  No sir. He was there being a part of it all. Graduations, weddings, births, all of it, and as happy as if he had always been a part of the family. 

For most of the four years they were together mom and Fred watched my dog for me on a part time basis. They kept her while I was overseas for months at a time. I would fly in and pick her up to be with me for a few months before leaving her with them again when I flew out. The arrangement worked well for all of us. They really seemed to enjoy her and I didn't worry about her well being since they took excellent care of her. Fred called her "our" dog. If you are a dog lover you will understand that small kindness. Maybe even if you aren't a dog lover. 

Now things have "shifted" again.  My mom must make her way through another loss. This man that none of us (me, my siblings, our spouses, all the grandchildren, and some great grandchildren) knew existed five years ago has come and gone in our lives. I believe he was a good influence on all of us. He brought with him more than a few lessons on how to be in relationship with others, how to keep on loving and living to the very end. I had the opportunity to thank Fred for his kindness before he got too bad with the cancer. He looked me straight in the eye and gently said "it was very easy." I seriously doubt that, but he made it look easy. I think that came from the practice of choosing to be kind through many circumstances in his life. Thanks Fred. Glad you stopped by in our lives for awhile. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Time out

I have been in "time out" for over a week now. You know, one of those that is imposed because your body isn't working right? Not fun. Time slows down but your mind goes too fast . . . because you can't use your body! I begin to feel like I am definitely on a first name basis with Dr. Phil and Oprah. So sad. Every bit of food consumed takes up residence around my middle but I still want to eat because I am so bored.

Maybe tomorrow will be better. It better be. It is all relative after all. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving (American Thanksgiving that is). Canadian Thanksgiving was over a month ago. Once again I find myself in a foreign land. Our family has celebrated Thanksgiving in Egypt, Trinidad & Tobago, England, Azerbaijan, and now Canada. Except there will be no traditional celebration tomorrow. Husband has a regular day at work and then a fancy business dinner. The kids (all grown up) are heading for different places to celebrate. Looks like Tally and I will be ordering Chinese for one (leftovers for Tally girl), or perhaps a rotisserie chicken? Pumpkin pie has always been a favorite of mine but I certainly won't make one for myself! That would be dangerous. 

I was thinking today about previous Thanksgivings. One thought led to another . . . to remembering back when I was a child and the way my Grandma Jewell LOVED to cook for our family. She was an amazing cook too, one of those who could manage to have everything ready at the appropriate time, looking lovely and tasting great. There was nothing like Grandma's hot rolls that would melt in your mouth. Now don't get the wrong idea- Grandma could also play a serious hand of bridge and was usually a few strokes under on the golf course, but that woman loved to cook! Holidays were always best when my cousins were there too. Our grandmother wisely saw to it that the girls (one cousin and I being almost exactly the same age) spent as much time together as possible. She wanted us to have a special relationship, and we do. Grandma passed away many years ago but I appreciate all those holidays that she made special.  A couple of years ago my mother gave me THE roll recipe. I make it but I know Grandma did it so much better! And what a table she could set!  She had a lovely collection of cut glass water goblets that she was so proud of. They would always grace the table for the holiday meals. They were wonderful colors (blue, red, yellow, turquoise , purple) and all a bit different in style. I remember the shouts of "I want the red one!" or  "I want the purple one!" as we would gather around the table to be seated. Personally, I always loved the red ones. I remember once asking Grandma about the goblets, about where she got them. She said she just collected them here and there. She told me she saw one she wanted once in a gas station (of all places) but that Grandpa thought it cost too much so she passed it up. On the return trip Grandpa stopped at the same station to fill up the car. He went in to pay and came back out carrying the goblet. I'm sure he was proud of himself. (I wish I could remember which one that was now.) Before Grandma died she divided the goblets. Part of them for me, and part for my cousin. I love those goblets. I also love that my cousin and I share them. I keep them safely high on a shelf. Never have they been with me overseas because I would not trust packers to handle them. I only bring them out for Christmas at my home in Colorado. I think of Grandma and Grandpa, of their house full of familiar voices, each time I bring out the goblets. You know, I hope I will not be too "careful" with them when we finally have grandchildren around our table for Thanksgiving and Christmas someday. I want to hear those same shouts of "I want the red one!" and "I want the yellow one!" It will be music to my hears:) 

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Christmas List

Alright P. I can take the hint. You want me to post some things I might like for Christmas. I know it is stressful on you guys to try and be creative. But I haven't thought about it much. K. says that everything I want shows up at the door delivered by the UPS man (which I think is a gross exaggeration)! I have wanted grandchildren and he hasn't delivered any yet. Touche'! I just don't sit around and think about what I want for Christmas. I have more fun imagining what you guys might want for Christmas!! I will try though, for you. 

The new James Taylor CD

Other CD's that you think I would like (P, you always have music on your ipod that I haven't heard but really like.)

OK, that is all I can think of right now. I see the problem. I promise to have a better list soon. I know there are some books I would like to have but I will need to go to the bookstore and write them down. I will get back to you. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The expedition

Yesterday afternoon my husband and I decided we needed an outing to get "merchandise" for our basement. You see, the kids are all coming home for Christmas.  We want to have the basement of our new (old) house ready to handle all the fun and X-box coming our way. Now, I don't play X-box (can't keep the cars on the road or handle all that shooting stuff) but I sure think it would be fun having it in the BASEMENT rather than in the little family room on the main floor! I can just hear all those "whoops and hollers" echoing from DEEP in the ground, even now:) My husband, realizing this to be a window of opportunity to get me to the store that sells flat screen TVs, was ready to go. But first we stopped at the big yellow and blue store that sells you meatballs so you will have strength enough to make it through their maze of merchandise. We needed cheap book shelves. That took over 2 hours. Then we hit the other blue and yellow store. You know, the one where men stand before giant flat screen TVs as though they are worshiping the god of all technology. You may speak . . . but they don't answer. They just stand there as though they have been hit by a laser gun. Occasionally there will be a straggling survivor walking out of the store, followed by a sales clerk pushing a trolly with a giant box wedged on it. The look on the survivor's face at that point resembles Moses after he saw the Burning Bush. Nothing matters. Nothing, except getting that massive flat box in the car and taking it home. One guy had his car pulled up to the curb and was having two clerks strip away all the cardboard boxing so that the TV would fit. in. the car.  In the end the expedition was hard on both of us. The choice is always hard. After what seemed to me like one of Dante's circles of hell, we had the item in the car. Back to the other blue and yellow store for the stand? I don't think so. Window of opportunity just closed.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Blog think

After I sent my new blog address to a few friends one person asked me . . . what is the attraction for blogging? So I started thinking the question over while I was out for a long walk in the snow with Tally yesterday. I mean, it does seem a little bit strange to be putting your thoughts "out there" on the web. I think part of the answer is because I am so far away from my friends and family. Not uncommon as things go. So blogging is a great way to "check in" each day or so with each other. I know my kids write things on their blogs about their daily events that they would probably not go into much detail about in a phone call, or write over and over again in individual emails. They write funny things that make me laugh or more serious things that make me proud of the adults they have become. I can imagine how they would tell the stories that I find on their blogs and how they would sound while telling them. I also follow blogs of some of my friends that I would probably lose track of otherwise. I love seeing pictures of their grandchildren! I love hearing their stories that I previously got to hear over a cup of coffee when we lived in the same locations on the expat trail.  

The second reason that I came up with is that blogging makes me write. I used to enjoy writing many years ago. Recently another lifetime friend asked me if I still write. The answer was "no, not really" and that is when I realized that I miss writing. The third reason is that it makes me start to think, be more observant about things, just the things around me everyday. I find myself thinking "oh, I want to take a picture of that so I can post it". This gets me to use my new camera more. A good thing. (I am kind of intimidated by my new camera.) I call this process "blog think" and have noticed that since I got my blog address going "blog think" happens quite often.  I imagine "blog think" diminishes with time, but still . . . all in all blogging seems a positive thing. Hey, one of my kids chastised me yesterday because I didn't post! What a thought! He is actually reading my blog! Wow! Though same offspring will probably be disappointed with this post since it is on the serious side:) 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Black Ice!

This is my first winter living in Canada. When we moved here last summer we had a similar conversation with person after person (the realtor, the neighbors, coffee baristas, retail personnel, the postman, the painter, and the carpet guy . . .). It (very cheerfully) went like this: "So, you just moved here, eh? How do you like it so far, eh? Do you like the cold, eh? The winters are pretty cold, eh." It was June! It began to appear that people felt a collective obligation to begin preparing me early for what was to come.  Fast forward to now. My husband and I like the cold. We lived in Wyoming when we married 31 years ago. We have a home in Colorado. We snow ski. Hey, we like winter. But maybe I am beginning to get the picture that all those welcoming souls were trying to convey. We have been running the heater for over 2 months. (Our cute little old house isn't exactly airtight.) I have acquired long underwear. One of the neighbors has a bright orange electric cord strung from their house, across a tree, and hanging near their car in preparation for plugging in their engine block heater. I have already upgraded my winter coat to a North Face knee length puffy job. And yesterday I encountered significant black ice. Not fun. Tally and I went slipping and sliding on our walk yesterday. My own front steps nearly took me down! It is a funny sight to see a 58 pound black lab try to carefully navigate steps- sideways. I know how she felt. Have you heard of "Yaktraxs" eh? They go on your shoes and look like little tiny Slinkys. Anyone remember Slinkys? (Think snow chains for your shoes.) I wonder if they make Yaktrax for labs? Eh?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Here we go a bloggin'

Ok, here goes . . . I am trying to figure out how this all works. Having never blogged before and given that I am still learning my way around my laptop . . . this will be interesting. Thanks to my kids I am starting on the blog train today:)