Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My New Year's Resolutions

This is the time when we review the past year and devise a plan to make the new year better. If you are so inclined, you might make resolutions to guide you through the next twelve months.

This has been a great year for me. My family has enjoyed good health, we are all speaking to each other, and no one has been financially ruined by investing in gold mines in Timbuctu. So, instead of making a whole list of promises, I will limit my list to two items:

1. I will speak kindly to others and hope they will be inspired to do the same. Together we can make this a kinder, gentler world.

2. I will continue to find joy in living and wish the same experiece for others.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another View from my Window on the World



The view from my Window on the World changes from hour to hour and day to day. Above is the view this evening as the sun started to set. The entire tree appeared to be alive and glowing.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Loaned out

I've loaned all my words out. They will be returned later and I'll talk to you then.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas, Caroline



Everyone has a favorite Christmas gift - the one that stands out from all the others. Maybe it was a doll or a fire truck or a fishing pole. My favorite gift arrived in a red Christmas stocking on Christmas Day 1999 and was better than any store-bought gift could ever be. On that day, my funny, talented, sassy granddaughter arrived with a flourish and turned our world upside down. She puts the sunshine in our lives and gives us great hope for the future of this world.

My name for this very special child is Baby Dumpling, but since she will be nine in a day or so, it is probably time to cast that name aside and call her by her birth name, Caroline. She is becoming a young lady now and the play dinosauers and My Little Pony have been replaced with online games and computers. She has a great future and her Pop-Pop and I are so proud to be a part of her life.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Gift Would You Choose?

If you had the ability to give a gift to the people of the world, what would it be? Don't count peace - that's a given. We have to have a process to achieve world peace. Would your gift include an element of that process? Think about it. Now, what would your gift be?

My first thought was that each of us be able to experience pure joy in living. My next thought was the ability to think before speaking - to pause and reflect on how our words will affect others before they are spoken. Perhaps if we hestitated before speaking there would be fewer disagreements and, therefore, a happier world.

It is difficult to know which I would choose. How about you?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Scary Thought

After using the same calendar for almost a year, I just realized it is a calendar for 2007. The scary part is that I don't believe I missed an appointment all year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sisters

From childhood I wanted a sister and as much as I begged my parents, it never happened. They never told me if I had anything to do with their decision, but I prefer to think not. My second choice was a real, live monkey - I didn’t get that either, even though they could be special ordered through the Sears & Roebuck catalogue. That’s true; I am not lying. Page 305 - I had it memorized.

Being denied a sister and a monkey, I set out to find a replacement for one or the other. Fortunately, the sister won out.

My dad’s sister and my mother were best friends and, naturally, my aunt’s daughter became my best friend and the closest thing I had to a sister. We did a lots of things together, even dressed alike. My aunt would buy enough material for dresses for my cousin and I and my mother, an excellent seamstress, would make the dresses - one for my cousin-sister and one for myself. There we were - dressed alike and proud of it. When people asked if we were twins, it was “Yes, ma’am, we sure are!” Of course, everyone in our little village knew better but played along with us.

As we grew older, our lives took different paths and I moved away. But, when I was back in town, Watch out! We picked up on our conversations like we had never been separated. I cried when her baby died and then her parents and her brother. She shared my grief when I lost my parents and brother.

It wasn’t all crying, though. There were lots of fun times too. The ones I best remember are those that happened when we were children, especially the times when our grandmother babysat with us. Grandma had “fainting spells,” which usually happened when someone crossed her and it seemed like the more we acted up, the more spells she had. We could be chasing each other through the house, having a grand old time and then, plop! There she went, but a little sweet talk and promises to be better usually brought her around.

Grandma carried a little bottle filled with some dark, magical elixir called “nerve medicine.” Heaven forbid, if it should ever be misplaced. Well, misplaced it was one night when my cousin, Grandma and I were making fudge. Imagine our chagrin when several drops of that potent mixture somehow found its way into our candy. We were one group of happy campers, let me tell you. I’ve always wondered if Grandma had any part in the misplacement of that nerve medicine.

After many years of being a widow, Grandma decided to court with the boyfriend she had rejected before she married our grandfather. She was in her 70s at the time and, in our eyes, way over the hill - so far over that if she looked backward, she couldn’t even see that hill. Boyfriend would arrive, dressed smartly in a white shirt buttoned to his chin, pants with creases sharp enough to cut through butter and shoes so shiny you could count your freckles in them. Grandma was dressed finely too, but she always was a sharp dresser, usually with a lace handkerchief tucked in the sleeve of her dress. There they sat, side by side on the sofa, exhanging chit chat, smiling and being sweet to each other until it was time to have coffee and dessert (Thank the Lord, it never included any candy we had made!). How do I know all this? We were peeping in the window, of course. Grandma looked after us so we looked after her.

This was supposed to be about sisters and I got off track, but you get the picture. My cousin and I remain very close and never run out of things to talk about. I don’t hold it against her that she is older than I and she doesn’t hold it against me that I’m smarter than she. We get along just fine.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Window on the World




Every house I have ever lived in has had a special window through which I can watch the world. Each has been my “Window on the World” and has been part of what I do best - sitting, dreaming and planning. If care isn’t taken, though, I would sit there for hours, thinking about what has already happened and planning what will happen in the future.

The house I live in now has a great Window on the World. The view through the French doors of my dining room looks out over the deck and toward a large, ancient oak tree, which stands guard over an old cemetery just past my house. How lucky can a genealogist be - a cemetery right in the neighborhood! This one is extra special as it has markers for Civil War veterans and some of the early families of this area. It is well maintained and there is a marker listing all known burials. If you squint with one eye and close the other, you can see a tombstone peeping over the grass in the photograph above. Better yet, just click on the photograph for a closer view.

This old tree stands tall and proud during the winter when its bare branches wave with the winter winds. In spring and summer it is dressed in its finery of green and the upper branches sway with gentle breezes. Its appearance may vary from season to season, but it is a constant in my life and grabs my attention each time I look outside.

Having a window on the world is a good thing. I bet you have one in your house too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Michigan vs Indiana

When I first moved to Michigan, I heard people talk about going Upnorth. Where on earth was this place called Upnorth? Then I realized it was two words: Up North and it wasn't a town, it was the entire region north of Midland and Bay City. You see, Michigan is shaped like a mitten with a scarf waving across the top. People live in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula), Up North, the Thumb or Down Below, which is what people Up North call everything not Up North, in the U.P., or in the the Thumb. The Thumb is the part that resembles ... well, you get the picture. I'm sure there are other parts of Michigan, but those are the main divisions.

People in Michigan have funny names and eat funny food. For example, people living in the U.P. are called Yoopers and most Yoopers like pasties. No, not those miniscule things that twirl and which, so I am told, are often worn by dancers in certain places not frequented or mentioned by ladies. I'm talking about the thing that makes up the main food group of Yoopers.

Pasties were introduced to this country by immigrant Cornish miners who worked in the copper and iron mines. They are sort of like western Kentucky fried pies, but with meat and potatoes instead of fruit. Maybe they would taste better if they did have some fruit, 'cause the way they make them in the U.P., they are good for nothing but bear bait.

Even though Michigan was the birthplace of Domino's Pizza and has 1,001 fine dining establishments, I was really glad to get back to Indiana where real food can be found every day in the local supermarket. Imagine my delight after returning to God's Country to find real pork brains ready for frying up for brain sandwiches. Another counter had dressed squirrels. I'm not sure those little skinned darlings were for sale, though. I figure some real smart hunter had placed his prizes in the supermarket cooler because his own cooler was chock full of deer meat and pork brains.

The sad thing, however, is that progress has come to my town. Our little market is 20,000 feet bigger and is graced not only by seafood, soup and salad bars, but also a wireless coffee shop. And it's huge - any market that requires a map to find your way in and out is too dadburn big. And they don't even have pork brains or squirrels in the coolers. Can this be progress?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What a Dilemna!

I tell you, this world is full of people who are sick and dying and who desperately need my help. Two days ago I received a most urgent message from Mr. Walter Ross, who is ill with a life-threatening disease and must find someone - like me - to assist him in finding the heirs to a fortune in South African diamonds. All I have to do is send my bank account numbers and he will deposit a huge amount of cash in my bank while the heirs are being located. Once these heirs are found, Mr. Ross says I will receive $2 million to use any way I choose. Can you beat that!

Then today, Mrs. Vivian Walter, the wife of Edward Walter, wrote me that her husband, who worked with Chevron/Texaco in Russia, deposited 7.5 million pounds with a bank in Europe before he died. If Mrs. Walter is unable to activate this account, the funds will be confiscated so she urgently requests my help to stand as beneficiary of the funds. Poor woman is in a hospital in Russia receiving treatment for cancer.

I think I will hurry and write each of them a lovely, long letter and tell them no one needs that much money when they have friends who will take care of them. They can catch the next flight to my hometown. I'll whisk them right to my house and I'll take care of them ... for a modest fee, of course.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another Time Out

I think I've talked (typed) too much today. I'm temporarily out of words.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Habits Die Hard

It's snowing this morning. Actually, it is a sort of rain/snow mixture, but it's enough to remind me that winter is almost here.

The first snowflakes always bring back memories of the many years spent in Michigan, where the winters were long and harsh with quite a bit of that white stuff. When we first moved there, I had visions of the snow gently falling while I read a book in front of the fireplace and sipped my cup of hot chocolate. Well, let me tell you, that was just a dream. The truth involved wet, smelly boots, mittens draped in front of the fireplace, snowsuits that had to dry out before the next outing - you get the picture. Not exactly a scene from House Beautiful!

Taking a hint from neighbors, I soon learned to stock up on canned goods and fireplace wood that would see us through days and nights if the electricity went out and we had no heat. It was not unusual for us to receive a foot of snow in one day, which was lovely if you didn't plan to go out. Fearing a fire or other catastrophe, the sidewalk was first cleared and then, like Santa, it was "up on the rooftop," to push the snow off onto the ground. Snow tends to melt in sunlight and then freezes when the temps drop. It likes to back up under the eaves and seep into the attic and elsewhere. There is nothing like waking up in the middle of the night with a drip, drip, drip in the light fixture over your bed.

The most popular person in the neighborhood was the county snow plow operater, but after he had made one run down the road, we still had to clear that hill of snow left from the snow plow at the end of the driveway. The most unpopular person in the neighborhood was the fool who lived two doors down and who always managed to get his car sideways in the road, preventing everyone from getting in or out of our dead end road.

In the event that school was dismissed, the neighborhood kids spent the day making tunnels and snow forts. Moms spent the day hoping there would be school the next day.

I don't have to worry about wet snowsuits and boots anymore and there is not usually much snow here in southern Indiana, but when those first flakes fall, I still go into that "emergency mode" and check the pantry to make sure I have all the necessary supplies, just in case.