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Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Writers' Post #25

The days of innocence are not carefree. I,of course, mean that just because one has not experienced something doesn't mean one doesn't worry about what if, when, where or how that something might occur.

Before the first date, for example, one would be completely innocent.  One would not be carefree, however. This is a time when a person imagines all sorts of outcomes and all manner of horrid things that could go wrong as well as all kinds of wonderful things that might happen.  It's the innocence that makes the unknown kind of exciting and at the same time frightful. Once the first date is history, there is a certain loss of innocence.

The first job interview is another fine example of how innocence is a double edged sword.  The inexperience is obvious to the interviewer and that can be refreshing.  It can also be off-putting.  If the job requires some amount of professionalism and it is clear during the interview process this is going to be the first job, it might well be an uphill climb for the innocent.  On the other hand, if a fresh outlook is helpful and on-the-job training is offered, the innocent may breeze through thoroughly in the favor of the questioner.  Once the interview is over, the innocent is somewhat seasoned and will not enter the next interview quite so wide-eyed.

So many of life's adventures can only be done innocently one time.  After the initial experience, it's different.  Usually better with some history, but different either way.  I think this is true with almost everything, well, except death.  That we do only once, usually.  Though there are many who have 'died' and been resuscitated, making death a multiple experience for them.  I imagine the fear of all things death related dissipates after that. It is the one thing in our lives about which we all have our own private and innocent thoughts.

For me, personally, there aren't many things I can think of that I could innocently undertake. I have done most of the things I want to do with the years I have left here.  Oh, I have many things I want to do again, but there's not much that would be a new experience in my future, I don't believe.  The only place where I really possess innocence is aging.  I am doing that daily and never having been this old before, it's unknown territory for me.  I innocently lunge forward through my golden years wide eyed and excited to see what's next.

Innocence is mostly for the young and I sure had my time of innocently jumping into things to qualify me for adulthood.  I imagine some of those things could be considered stupid and most assuredly ill-advised, but how would I have known that, exactly without trying.   Once I reached the age of adulthood, according to the law and most of the population, around 21, I had already married and given birth to two babies. I had a lot of innocence left in me at that point, but I also had a good deal of experience.  My twenties were learning years, to say the least.  I had jumped head long into adulthood and then innocently started experiencing life in the real world.

Innocence=lack of living.  Nothing mysterious about it.  As you live, you lose innocence.  As you lose innocence, you gain confidence and history gives you wisdom.  The circle of life.


Monday, November 28, 2011

All I Want For Christmas 2011

All I Want For Christmas 2011
BFF 145

I want my kids (and their kids) to be healthy, happy and laughing.  
I want my Momma to feel wanted, loved and needed.  
I want my roomy to feel like he will always have his best bud near  by. (me)
I want my siblings to be with their kids and feel the pride of their live's work.

I want every service woman and man to feel and know that they are appreciated, thought of, prayed for and thanked every moment of their lives.  
I want them to all have peace time duty from here on.
I want every heart that isn't at peace to calm itself and be wrapped in love.  

I want every living being who is missing one who has gone before to feel the presence and love of that one who has passed in their hearts.  The warmth of the missing love all around them.
I want every baby, every child to have a holiday with food and at least one small gift just for fun.
I want homelessness to be a choice, not a matter of no other choice.
I want every person who is unemployed to have an offer for employment.

None of these need be gift wrapped and none of these need be for just one day, but one day would be a start.

In a perfect world, I would also love to have all my kids and their kids at my house Christmas afternoon and into the evening, like we used to do.  But that is then and this is now.  

Dear Santa,
My wish list is a long one and none of my wishes are tangible.  I will be praying for each of these things and just wanted to let you in on my list so that you don't waste a moment of your magical night's time stopping by our house.  We will be fine without any material gifts this year because we are old people who have accumulated far too many of them already.  What I really want this year is for you to dig deep in your elfin chests and find a few extra somethings for a lot of children who should awaken to something on their Christmas morning.  I believe you can do this with the help of many of your elves and helpers.  I am volunteering as one of those helpers and will be placing a few toys in a few boxes which your other helpers (the Marines) have set up around the shopping areas.  They are very good helpers.

Merry Christmas, Santa and happy flying.  :)

Your Helper,

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Bucket List

The Bucket List
GBE #26

Not much to say here except following is my own "Bucket List"

1) Retire to Arizona

2) See every Caribbean Island

3) Owe no one a single dollar

4) Get a major publisher to 'discover' me

5) I want to know that every person who has touched my life, made it different in one way or      another, knows that I am grateful for having met or known them.

6) Write the most amazing tribute to my mother.

This is a small list and I understand that I may be adding to it as time passes, but for today at this moment, I really have minimal wants.  There is nothing on this list that would be devastating to me if it didn't get checked off.  Number 5 is one I work on continuously.  It is basically fulfilled right now, though, there are some people I don't see anymore or have contact with that actually did impact my life either negatively or positively.  Those people, I just have to hope, know what they did or didn't do for or to me.  The negative impacts might be the most significant ones. I am who I am because I either made a change or stood my ground against whatever they may have done or failed to do.  Those who let me down, well, they taught me to never let anyone down in my own life.  Those who hurt me, taught me to try not to hurt others and 'fix' it, when I have done so.  

My bucket list is really not even important because I really do live in the "now" of my life and whatever doesn't happen from that list, just isn't meant to happen.  Whatever does happen will be another blessing for me.  I have been too busy living my life and hope to continue to be too busy to take note of what I haven't done ...

Bucket lists are for dreamers, I suspect, and I am just not a dreamer.  I am just a doer and a simple woman who knows that what I have is so much more important than what I might have or what I might do down the road.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas is Coming

Christmas is Coming!
Writers' Post #24

Thanksgiving is over and the leftovers fill 'fridges all over the country.  Cold turkey sandwiches are being served and created by anyone who hosted a big dinner or cooked for their own family or took doggie bags home from wherever they ate.  Some are traveling to yet another destination for yet another or perhaps their only feast of the Turkey gobbling holiday.  The one thing we all share with this holiday is that once it's past, the preparations for Christmas begin. For some in earnest with the Black Friday shopping trip.  For some it's a matter of putting out a few decorations with more to come.  Others will go all out over the week-end and completely decorate for the Christmas season.  To each their own, but one way or another, the end of Thanksgiving means the beginning of Christmas with gusto at some level.

My shopping is nearly done.  I have to take one more trip to the store with Momma and I have to pick up gifts for two granddaughters who just told me this week-end what they would like to find under their tree.  I love doing my shopping early to avoid the cold weather and possible snow.  I hibernate through as much of that kind of weather as I possibly can manage.  I make lists in September and start shopping on line as soon as I know exactly what I am buying.  Then I just wait for the stuff to arrive and start wrapping.  Usually, I am done by the end of October or have just a few things to pick up at that point.  This year, I am a bit behind.  I have two to buy and that will be the end of my shopping.  What has been delivered has been wrapped, but there are a few things I am still waiting on to arrive.

Decorations wise, the outside stuff is up and the inside stuff is not.  I will be doing that next week-end if  nothing else comes up. The tree is up because my daughter thought it needed to be up for the little ones to exchange their gifts yesterday.  So that's one thing done. Much more to do and of course, some baking to get done.  I do way less than I used to do, but I enjoy doing a bit.  I love making two or three cookies from my old recipes and then I give them away.  It's a fun thing.

With all the preparations in the weeks to come, I will be remembering Christmas' past.  In those memories, I will see my Dad very clearly. He is so much a part of our childhood and early adult Christmas'.  He loved the kids being around for the holidays.  He loved the big meals and all the laughter that always came with our family dinners.  Mom would prepare a huge and delicious meal and then my sister, my sister-in-law and I would do the dishes.  In later years, our kids took over and are still doing the clean ups now.  He always made a joke about taking out a loan to pay for the meal and hoping everyone enjoyed it.  He never wanted to miss a grandchild opening a gift from them.  He never wanted to miss a grandchild doing anything, but they lived nearly an hour away from all of us, several hours from my brother, actually.

Christmas with Mom and Dad was a celebration regardless of whatever else was happening in our lives.  The year I left my children's father was a difficult year in every way imaginable.  Financially, I was strapped. Emotionally, I was drained.  Physically, I was spent.  Mom and Dad came on Christmas Eve arriving shortly after I got home from work.  The children were with their dad's family and they didn't want me to be alone. They came to take me to dinner.  We had no idea all the restaurants would be closed.  I think we ended up having Chinese or something from the only place we could find to eat.  Not the typical Christmas Eve dinner, but it was food.  I had nothing in the house that could have been fixed that night for us to eat.  I did have Christmas dinner food, but that was to share with the kids.  It wasn't a huge celebratory type meal, it was a very small piece of ham and potatoes and green beans.  Not nearly enough for more than the three of us.  Yet, I remember being so happy that they came all that way to see me and make sure I was not alone.  I didn't want to be alone.  I also remember that there was some 'unexplained' cash left in the house when they had moved on to my sister's house.

Since my own children have grown and have their own families, our Christmas' have changed over the years.  At first, nothing changed.  Everyone still came to our house for the day in the early afternoon and my daughter, who had moved to Nashville, still came home for a few days. As they have had children and their lives changed, so has our Christmas day.  The oldest son has moved to Tennessee and last year he didn't come over until the day after, which is my birthday, so that wasn't awful.  lol  His daughter, our oldest granddaughter, got married last year and they have too many places they are expected to be and ours is too far away to fit into their time frame.  She wasn't here.  Our Tennessee daughter hasn't been coming home since her daughter was a year old.  She wants them to be home for Christmas and so we go down there after Christmas and stay a few days.  One of the other boys just had their third daughter this week and they prefer to stay home with their girls for Christmas.  (Grand total now  7 granddaughters and 1 grandson.) So they weren't here.  My youngest son and his wife and two kids were here and Momma, Mike and I were here.  It was a really nice evening and dinner, but not the same.  I think maybe they will want to stay home with their kids soon, if not this year.  We will have to take Momma and go visit each of the two that are nearby, if that's the case.  It will not be the same and it will not be a family Christmas with no dinner including everyone. I will just have to remember the days that my kind of Christmas worked out for everyone and we were the destination for dinner and gift exchange.  Families grow and families change and so do the celebration traditions.

The years pass and life goes on.  Changes happen and I try to adapt.  I shall, however, always miss the days of my downstairs being filled with my family and lots of food.  The whole house being filled with laughter and our children catching up with each other over a beer or a glass of wine or a coke.  All the grandbabies playing with each other and getting reacquainted. I loved those days and I love those memories.  I love that we had them once and that I can still recall them at will.  I fear that those days will also pass.  One day, I may not be able to recall those wonderful Christmas days of kids, babies, dogs and Mike and me just watching, laughing and talking with everyone all at once.  Remembering ...loving.



BFF #144

The one 'sight' in which I boast 20/20!  I have no clue what is coming, no future sight.  I see my now as it unfolds with as much surprise as anyone else, but when it comes to seeing how things might have been, well, now there I can see all kinds of different outcomes.  Change a decision here or there and boom!  Your life goes in a different direction.  I'm glad we can't do that.  I'm glad that we are not capable of 'do overs' because we might choose to take that road instead of the one we did take.  Life happens as it is supposed to happen, I believe.  I also believe as we go through life, we make decisions based on where we are at that moment as well as where we have been in the past; sometimes keeping in mind where we want to be in the future.  Not always remembering to look ahead is a problem for some.  

All of that being said, I imagine most of us have at least one or two things in our past we would do differently.  I know I have a few dozen things in my own history that I would not  do the same way.

I would not ever repeat some of my high school decisions, given today's wisdom and experience. I would have possibly saved myself and a lot of other people some heartache if, at say 15, I had the mind of a 25 year old me.  By then, I had learned how my decisions can affect others.  At 15, I was completely about me and mine.  I didn't mean to be, I didn't know I was, but now I know and in hindsight, yuck.

As a young parent, I might have done things a little differently.  I might have listened to my own parents more and I might have had more patience.  I guess I didn't do a horrid job, but there was much room for improvement.  As the kids grew I know I got better and more competent.  But in hindsight, I know they deserved more than a 19 and then a 20 year old mom could probably have done raising babies.  

I know this, too.  I am a much better Grandma than I ever was a mom!

Hindsight is helpful to me only as a reminder to think before I act.  It is a good thing to review your choices before running hog wild and head long into something without thoroughly examining your options and the possible outcomes.  Hindsight is just that, looking behind yourself.  I spend very little time doing that, but now and again, one must look back and most importantly, learn.  What I know is that I wasn't who I am today but that woman made this one and I am very glad about that.


First Thanksgiving

First Thanksgiving
BFF #142

There is a turkey roasting in the oven and stuffing ready to be baked, when the turkey comes out to rest before carving.  The sweet potato pie is perfectly baked and sitting on the desert tray next to the plates, forks and napkins.  The green bean casserole has been assembled and will go in the oven along with the stuffing and the garlic bread just before the gravy is made, the turkey is plated and then everyone will come to the table and feast on all this freshly made food and while they fill their tummies, they will feel such gratitude for all the blessings they share daily.  Thanksgiving is the most family oriented of all holidays for Toni and Heath.  This is their second holiday season as a married couple, but their first thousands of miles from family.

About a month ago Toni decided they would have the usual feast, but on a smaller scale. Heath would have been satisfied with a turkey sandwich and a piece of pumpkin pie with her, but he knew how much she missed being with family and the least he could do was get on board with her plan for Thanksgiving.   He would do whatever she needed to get through this new and different idea of what was now Thanksgiving and in a month, the new idea of Christmas.

Heath had been offered a large salary increase, more job security and a gigantic promotion with his company 6 months prior.  It involved moving from Cleveland to Seattle.  Toni had not hesitated for a moment.  Her own job, she was a bank loan officer, was a good position, but didn't pay nearly what Heath made and she could probably find another banking job in Seattle.  If not, she could try her hand at something else.  Working was just a way to make money for her and she had never felt like she had found her niche in the business world so looking for something new was not a bad idea anyway.  They had talked about being so far from their families and determined that they now were adults and needed to be responsible for their own lives and together, just the two of them, would make a whole new life in Washington.  With that, they were off to their new horizons.

Things had gone quite smoothly since they moved across the country into a house they found on line through a Seattle Realtor.  He had sent inside photos and outside photos, photos of the street in both directions and even a couple shots of the neighborhood.  It was exactly what they were looking to find.  The moving truck was on time with their belongings and the move in was pretty uneventful. Oh, except no one had thought to call the power company and have the power turned on.  So the first night would be spent by candle light.  They had city water, so there was water, but the hot water was electric, so only cold water.  Showers could wait a day or two, if need be.  Could have been much worse, they told each other.  As it turned out, the power was turned on at 9 AM their first full day in residence and all the unpacking was done in a couple of days.  They were home and Heath went off to work his first full day 3 days after the move.  

Toni had found work within a couple weeks.  A credit union just a few blocks from their home had an ad in the local paper for a full time teller and customer relations person.  She applied and was hired a few days later.  It was a perfect fit for her and the rest of the staff was rapidly becoming her new friend circle.  Heath had met a few of them and so far, pretty much everything was going well for them in their new home, new jobs and new life built for two.

The Thanksgiving week-end would be spent here, just the two of them, because neither of them would have Friday off and consequently, no time to fly home and back again.  Just one day off meant no travel.  The original plan was to return to Ohio for Christmas, but that plan also had to be amended because Christmas would be on Sunday and both would be at their jobs on Monday.  Gifts would be mailed back and phone calls would be made, but they would be alone for both big family holidays this year, at least.

Toni tended to her dinner preparations with total dedication.  She didn't want anything to be any less than delicious.  She was a good cook and this meal was second nature to her, but with each dish she prepared, she was drawn mentally back to her Mom's kitchen.  The turkey, always much bigger than needed, would be in her oven now, too.  In fact, because of the time difference, Toni realized as she was basting her turkey for the last time her mom would be serving hers.  She thought of all who would be seated at that big table.  Her sister and her brother would each have a seat next to their spouses and Toni's beautiful nieces.  Her sister had one daughter and her brother had two.  Her mom would be sitting next to her dad and her grandmother would be on Dad's other side.  Dad, of course, would be at the head of the table.
Her other grandmother, Mom's mom,. would be seated between Mom and Grandpa.  He was always in the middle of the table with kids across from him.  He liked to make faces at the kids and tease them while everyone ate.  Toni quickly wiped a tear from her eye and got back to tending her dinner. She did not want Heath to see inside her heart today.  She wanted to enjoy this day with him.  

She set the table with her best dishes and silver from their wedding gifts.  The napkins were cloth instead of the usual paper.  She was using the most beautiful tablecloth she owned.  It had been a gift from a very dear friend of her mother's.  It was handmade with the most intricate crochet pattern Toni had ever seen.  Very small sea shells appeared to cover the small but very close together lines of finely crocheted ropes.  The pattern repeated to cover the entire center of the cloth and the outside border was a lacy type crochet.  Toni used this cloth only for very special days.  Today it adorned the table and showcased her dinnerware and her perfectly cooked Thanksgiving spread.

Heath helped get everything to the table and cleaned up as they went along.  They sat to eat and Toni said the blessing. "Welcome to our hearts, dear Lord. Bless the bounty we are about to share and receive our thanks for family and friends who are near to our hearts though far from our home today. Thank you, Lord for our new home and the opportunity to be with each other and share the kind of love many just dream of.  Please bless and protect our soldiers on duty today ensuring our freedoms. We are two very grateful people. In Jesus name we pray. Amen".
Heath let go of her hand and then, after a few seconds of silence, told her he knew how difficult this was for her and that he too had been thinking of home all day.  He then said, "I am so glad to be here with you. Do you really know how lucky we are? We have dozens of people to think of with love today and they are all safe and pretty much with each other today.  All of them are missing you and me today.  Do you know how many people are not missed by anyone? Toni, I love you and I am so thankful that we are 'we' and will be forever.  Thank you for coming on this journey with me."   Again, Toni wiped a few tears from her eyes.  She hugged her man and then announced that she was starving and hoped he was, too.

Their first Thanksgiving alone was nearly perfect.  The meal, impeccable; the phone call lengthy and loving; the company, perfect and the day went by a bit too quickly.  They would be just fine here in their new life.  The next year they would probably be able to go home.  But they both know now that even if that doesn't work out, they will be fine and even better than fine.  They will be happy.  Family love is all around you no matter how many miles separate you.


Friday, November 25, 2011

One Lovely Blog

One Lovely Blog

I have a lovely blog and I have the award to prove it!  Beth, Word Nerd, said so!  That means it is absolutely true and I am so excited to share this honor with....

The Lovely...Grains of Sand
The Adorable...Miller Writes
The Cute as a Bug...Kyle Dane
The Formidable...Views of an Optimist
The too often Absent...Views of one Senior

Blog on MY FRIENDS!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thankful for...

When I contemplate my blessings and my life in general my emotions sometimes get the best of me and writing becomes a bit of a challenge.  I think some of my favorite stuff comes from that state of mind where only gratitude and love reside.  This will likely be one of those, since I am about to tell you of the things I thank God for and remember a few moments I am grateful to have lived.

Momma turned 89 in October and is young at heart and as spry as most 70 year olds.  Her mind is a little slower to recall, but still sharp as ever.  She still dresses with care everyday, wearing comfortable clothes like jeans or sweatpants or comfy dress slacks with her choice of sweaters, soft pull-overs or sweatshirts.  Whatever she chose, it matches.  Her hair always looks neat and in place. She only wears shoes when she goes outside.  Inside is for bare feet or if it's chilly, socks.  She reads whatever books she can get her hands on and then will tell me which ones were good and which ones, well, not so good.  (She said she loved my books, by the way.)  Her TV is on if she is out of bed and the volume set so as not to bother any neighbors, whether or not she can hear it, it will not be bothering anyone.  She no longer drives, but otherwise, takes care of most of her needs.  I am more than happy to take care of the big stuff and to be her taxi.  She appreciates what I do for her and tells me so often.  Every Friday I pick her up and bring her home with me for the afternoon.  We do her hair and she stays for dinner or we go out for dinner.  She prefers to eat here, I think.  Dining out doesn't really appeal to her so much anymore and I'm with her about that, so eating in is most often the plan.  I love cooking for her because she loves everything.  She doesn't cook a lot anymore, but she can still make a good pot of chili and the occasional tuna noodle casserole for herself.  We get groceries together and run any other errands she might want to run on another day and besides those two days, I stop in to see her if I am in town for anything, she lives just 2 miles from me and that rocks.  She used to live 45 minutes away until 2 years ago.  I am so happy she moved here.  No list of my blessings could start any other way, I am so very thankful to have her in my life and so very thankful for her good health and almost always good attitude.

My roomy has to go on this list because, I am telling you the truth here, there isn't another man who could have or would have put up with me for all these years.  He is nearly my polar opposite, personality wise.  He talks to me and to the grandkids, but he isn't much of a talker otherwise.  He can seriously sit in a crowded room of family and say nothing for hours.  He listens.  He laughs.  He just doesn't talk.  When he does, it's usually either something funny or important. (I am not like that. I just talk.)  He works full time even though he is 8 years past retirement age, according to Social Security.  He likes his job, most days, and can't imagine not going to work every day.  When I retired he started talking about retiring, but so far that hasn't happened.  Maybe next year.  (*giggling, just a bit*)  Since he has no real hobby and no real interests except lawn maintenance, his winters would be very boring and very long.  I don't care if he works or retires, I just care that he still likes me.  I think that sometimes it's okay to be my roomy because I do cook almost everyday and I do keep a clean house.  I make sure the bills are paid on time and I make sure he doesn't go into debt beyond his means.  I make sure things get fixed when they are broken, one way or the other.  I have my good points, but day to day, I might be a bit difficult.  I not only keep a clean house, but I also insist he take care of his crap.  Not something he thinks is necessarily important.  He will always take care of things, eventually.  I need things clean all the time.  An  empty bottle or cup sitting on the end table after you've made several trips to the kitchen, not acceptable.  Take it with you.  Leaving several outfits hanging on the back of the bathroom door, not acceptable.  We have closets for that.  He likes to leave certain things, umm in a handier spot than the closet.  I could go on and on, but I am sure you see what a pain in the butt I would be, if you weren't also a little over-the-top-nutso about your environment.   A place for everything and everything in it's place.  How does this relationship work?  (I know you're thinking that.) It works because he is my life partner.  He knows everything there is to know about me and he still likes me.  He loves me as I am and thinks our differences are unimportant because we have family that we both love, we have respect for each other and we have one goal in common.  That goal is simply to be there for each other as long as we are able.  We have both been divorced and we neither one desire another.  This marriage was meant to be until death and it shall be.  I can't even imagine what my life would be like without him because he really is my other half.  He is my yin and I'm his yang.  For all the good and bad times of life, this is the man I want beside me.  He doesn't lead me, he doesn't follow me.  We walk our days side by side and hand in hand.  I am thankful that somehow we found each other and somehow we fell in love.  I am thankful that we will spend all the remaining days of our lives together.

I am a sister.  I am thankful that my siblings are exactly who they are.  My sister is also my friend and the saying you see all over that says something like, "Sisters by blood, friends by choice" is my truth.  I have only one sister and lucky for me, she's a keeper.
When we were kids it wasn't such a great thing.  She didn't much like me and I guess I pretty much thought she was a snot.  We shared a room and sometimes clothes and that's about all.  We just didn't socialize with each other partly because of the 5 year difference in age and partly because we had nothing in common.  I have always been a very creative and exasperating person.  I always liked having my own space and being alone in it.  She has always been a bit more of a rebel than I.  Make a rule and she'll ignore it, if it doesn't fit into her needs.  She was the smart one and she was also beautiful.  In my mind, she was just about perfect.  She didn't always do what Mom and Dad had in mind, but she wasn't ever in trouble.  Grounded, often, but that only led the way for me to have more freedom, so that wasn't a bad thing.  When she got married, somehow, we became best friends.  She moved out and I spent a ridiculous amount of time at her apartment.  I really missed her.  She had a baby and I practically moved in with her.  I couldn't get enough of that little girl.  She was the love of my life from the moment I first touched her tiny, soft face.  That was our biggest and most enduring bonding experience.  With the birth of that baby girl, my sister became my focus.  I wanted her to have whatever she wanted and I would do whatever I could to help her get it.  I have loved her every moment of my life, but I liked her with every beat of my heart after she moved out!  Just to cement our relationship a bit more, I married her husband's brother.  Yep, we fell in love with brothers.  We had 2 kids each and now the four of them are double cousins, or so I call them.  We raised our kids for a while just a few blocks apart and then a few miles apart and then my marriage fell apart.  Her's lasted until her girls were much older.  That's a story for another day, but for this story, let it suffice to say that we have both ended up with the right man and both of us now have the kind of life we can smile about.  Our kids are all grown and have given us the ultimate gift, we are Grandma's now and her kids are still a giant part of my heart.  I am more than an Aunt, I am THE Aunt, in my mind.  A few years ago, she became very ill.  For a few days, very scary days, we didn't know what was wrong and that she nearly died.  I don't believe I have ever felt so helpless and so sad as those days. She is fine now and that ordeal passed without lingering results, except that I appreciate her even more.   I really am thankful for my sister, Pat, and for her family which is such an important part of MY family.  So many stories I could tell about us, but they would all end with, "Thank God, I have her in my life."

My brother has not lived in Michigan, like the rest of us do, since about 1968, I think.  He moved for his job to Indiana and has since been either in Indiana or Illinois.  He is close enough to get here for special days and far enough away not to be hanging out just for fun.  His daughters have never lived here and we have not gotten as close as we might have, had he lived here, but they now bring their families to the reunion which is at my home every summer and we have gotten to know them all over again as adults.  They are wonderful women with great families.  As a child, my brother was the stereotypical brother with a younger sister.  He tormented me endlessly.  He teased me, he scared me, he laughed at me and yet, if I needed to be rescued, he was the one.  I apparently slid down the side of the creek bank and hit my head on the ice one time, cutting my head open and knocking myself out.  He picked me up and got me home to Mom.  His words, "I saved your life!"  Yeah, maybe.  I think, he probably had something to do with me falling in the first place, but I do not remember.  We played with the same boys in our neighborhood, (there were no girls, but me) and it was okay because mostly I played by myself anyway.  He bought a car with money from his first job and it was the coolest car ever.  I loved it.  He gave me rides to school almost everyday.  That was too cool.  After high school he was injured rather severely in a construction accident.  Our dad was there working with him when a ditch collapsed on him.  His pelvis was broken and he was in the hospital for what seemed like months.  It wasn't, but it was a long time.  When he finally came home, I had to tell him that I had driven his car to town once to get supplies for dinner.  I wanted to make something and no one was home but me and so I just took his car.  Oh, did I mention that I was 15?  No license and no way that I should have done that, but it seemed like a plan at the time.  I got in big, big trouble for it, but the worse was that I had to tell him.
He, I thought, would have a tantrum or never speak to me again or something like that.  I was really afraid.  I told him, he just laid there on the bed Mom and Dad had set up in the living room for his recuperation period.  Just looking at me.  I finally said something like, "Well?"  He just laughed and then grimaced and told me to get lost, it really hurt to laugh.  That might have been the second time I knew that I loved my brother.  The first time was, when my Mom told me what had happened in that ditch and I realized that I could have lost him that day.  When he married and shortly after moved out of state, we kind of drifted apart.  We had our first babies just months apart and since mine was born first, we headed down to Indiana to meet our new niece.   This was our relationship for the next, well, that's kind of still our relationship!  We see each other about 4 times a year.  I miss him, I mean I miss the idea of him being closer, I guess, but I know he is where he wants to be.  His girls have families and he and his wife are near them.  They make the trip to be with us  for all the holidays except Christmas and it's wonderful to spend those days with them.  I am so thankful that he and his wife make this sacrifice, it's over 4 hours one way, for themselves, for us and for Mom.  I am thankful for my brother and thankful that even though he is hours from us, he is always in our lives.

My first born was a girl.  She was the most perfectly beautiful baby girl ever.  I used to just stare at her as I held her or when she was lying in her crib and I would just marvel at how angelic she was.  She had the most beautiful hair by the time she was 2 and it hung in long curls past her shoulders.  I learned this was baby hair and when she was about 2 and a half, I cut her hair to her shoulders and watched the curls disappear...forever.  (*sighing*)  She was a very easy baby, cried very little, needed very little and smiled a lot.  She laughed at everything.  Or I was the funniest mommy ever, not sure which.  She was a really good big sister, at first.  She wanted to help with everything and did a good job entertaining her brother to allow me to accomplish a few household things from time to time.  They played very well until they got to be school aged, then it all fell apart.  Back to her...I never for even a moment was disappointed or bewildered by this little girl.  She was just a joy right up until she became a teenager.  That is another blog, a very long one.  She has managed in spite of her parenting, to become a truly remarkable woman.  She has two daughters who make the sun shine for me on the rainiest of days.  She has become the most effective parent you can imagine.  She is raising her girls to be independent and responsible, to know right from wrong and perhaps most importantly, to take responsibility for their own actions.  They know what consequences are.  Seeing her as an adult is difficult for me.  I have to remind myself all the time that she is all grown up.  I know that, but I will probably always see her as my perfectly perfect baby girl.  (She is engaged to a really good man and Scott has taken his place in our life as if he were always meant to be here.)  I was there 2 minutes after she gave birth to her first child and I can tell you, if you haven't experienced the birth of your daughter's daughter, it's a miracle of gigantic proportion.  It is ingrained on my brain as if it happened yesterday not 12 years ago.  The birth of the second girl was 2 years later and just as miraculous AND I made it there in time to actually see her make her appearance.  I cry now just remembering that moment.  I am eternally grateful to my daughter for wanting me with her when she gave birth.  It was the most lasting gift I shall ever receive.  The blessing of a daughter is one I am so grateful for and this particular woman is my source of pride and honor.  I am thankful every minute of my life for my little girl and her little girls.  

When my little angel was 18 months old we welcomed my son.  He was unexpected but so welcome in my life.  The flu I was unable to cure turned into the little boy for this generation in our family.  My sister has 2 girls and my brother has 3.  I had the boy child as my brother was the boy child in our generation.  Our family has only boy each generation.  (Well, we did.  This go 'round, we have 2 so far.  My sister has a grandson and so do I.)  Since I was never a little boy, nor was I a teenage boy, this child was a little bit of a challenge to my parenting skills.  Okay, I raised him without a man for several years and it was beyond difficult.  His mind didn't work like a little girl, shocker! I could never figure him out.  Every toy had to be disassembled.  Everything that had a moving part had to be inspected and if possible, made not to move anymore.  Everything was a riding toy or should be.  He climbed to great heights, literally.  He could scale anything!  He always wanted to be on top of whatever was in the room.  He tried, it usually worked out.  He rode his tyke bike down the stairs.  He got on the roof of one of the old buildings in our little town and he threw snow balls at passing cars.  He did things boys do.  I had no clue.  I did the best I could and I can say this, if not much else, I loved this guy so much.  He fascinated me and he intrigued me and he frustrated me.  He also taught me tolerance.  Yes, he did that.  I loved him in spite of the fact that I didn't understand him at all.  In spite of the fact that I had no idea how his mind worked or if it did, I loved him.  Many, many times I wondered if he even liked me and I knew he often wished I would just go away.  I really never thought he would ever really love me.  He does.  He has grown into such a wonderful man.  He and I are very close now.  He has married a woman who adores him and I couldn't be more pleased with his choice.  She is my daughter-in-law and my chosen friend.  I really love her and the fact that she has helped him give me two adorably loveable grandbabies has nothing to do with it.  (LOL)  She is a good person and I am always proud to introduce her as my daughter.  Together they are fantastic parents.  They are raising their son and daughter to be polite, to be independent and to laugh.  They teach and discipline and love endlessly.  My heart just smiles when these babies are in the same room with me.  Yes, the Navy, the local police, my roomy and I have raised this crazy boy into an amazing man.  I thank God for this gift and am more thankful than any words can say to have had the privilege of raising this miraculous man.  He blesses me with his mere existence. 

I am such a lucky and blessed woman,  that I know as I look around me and see others with loving families that make their world's go 'round, life is all about family.  If one is alone in this world, one must make family with friends.  Oh, that isn't a law or even a rule, but it makes sense.  If I were to find myself alone, I would have to create a new and different kind of family.  I would reach out for anyone who might enhance my life or need my enhancement in theirs.  I would find people who love being loved.  I would work very hard molding my relationships and seeking to find what God has given me right here and right now.


Tasty Tuesday

Italiano Night
Tasty Tuesday

Gravy (Or the sauce, if you prefer)

Brown 2# ground sirloin with a medium onion chopped.
Add a few cloves of garlic (3 or 4)
Add 1 Cup finely processed carrots 
Let this mixture cook until all the meat is browned and the vegetables are soft.
About 20 minutes.
Add 1/2 Cup mushrooms

Add 1 large can crushed tomatoes
Season with
   2 -3 Tbsp. paprika
   2-3 Tbsp.  cumin
   2-3 Tbsp.  oregano
   sea salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste

Add 1 Cup red wine (You may use beef broth instead)

Stir well and allow to simmer 3 hours stirring to prevent sticking.  This is a basic gravy that can be adapted to many Italian dishes.  You can add different spices or more or less for different flavors.  It is fantastic served with any pasta, rice, chicken or when lots of cheese is added, chicken and cheese!

Here, I am serving it with a simple whole wheat linguini, tossed salad and garlic bread with cheese.  I topped it with freshly ground mozzarella.

Sunday, November 20, 2011



Is it even possible to go more than a day without laughing?  At all?  I might be able to go a day if I was really sick, painfully sick or sleeping kinda sick. That is the only way I can imagine that happening.

(Enjoy the fish-eye lens shots my niece took at Thanksgiving last year!  There's my brother's dog, George,  my brother and I and down a little further my sister.)

TV makes me laugh, the dogs make me laugh, Lord knows my roomy makes me laugh and in general everyone I talk with makes me laugh (leaving out the CSR people I have to deal with now and again).  Do I make other people funny?  Am I so peculiar that they can't help but make fun of me so I'll laugh at my stupid self?  Maybe I just chose funny people to keep in my life?  I didn't choose my mom, she makes me laugh. My sister makes me laugh and I didn't choose her.  My brother's pretty funny, my nieces are hysterically funny and if they are mixing it up with my kids and their spouses, a laugh riot will no doubt ensue and I didn't choose any of them.  So, no, didn't choose funny people, though the friends I have kept through the years are all pretty funny people, sometimes by mistake, but still.  I don't think I'm funny, I do crack myself up now and then, but generally, I don't think I'm funny.  I do think I bring out the funny in those around me though and I enjoy that.  

I read somewhere a few dozen years ago that laughter makes more wrinkles than frowning.  Is that true?  I kinda hope so, cuz I'm pretty wrinkled and I laugh a lot.  I wanna think it's because my face is far too busy pulling my lips back and squeezing my eyes shut in uncontrolled laughter to care that it is breaking down all the collagen that used to make my face smooth and wrinkle free.  There was no character in that smooth version.  I got me some seriously intense character now!

I don't think I have more than a handful of memories of conversations with any of my family that didn't include some good laughs.  It's what we do.  My daughter tells stories that have some grain of truth and then are just so exaggerated that even those who were there might not recognize the event, but they are hilarious stories and I love hearing them.   Listening to my son tell the latest activities of his kids or their latest funny story makes my sides ache, by the end.  Mom sees the humor in almost everything and then shares it with a feigned attitude of disgust.  Love it.  With my sister it will most likely be a grandson story or one of our youth.  The youth where she, the older sister rules over the spoiled and detested baby sister (me) and then ends with (while laughing) a most sincere apology for her horrid behavior.  Our brother loves to tell stories of how they tortured me just because they could and then how Mom would step in and 'save' me.  I don't remember being saved, but okay.  They are great and funny stories and told with such love and humor...

We all gave birth to funny people.  Seriously funny people who could possibly all have had careers in stand-up comedy.  A room full of them would cause some majorly aching sides and coughing from pure and gut based laughter.  

Long life and good health seem to be the rule in our ancestry.   Makes ya wonder, eh? Maybe laughter truly is the best medicine.  Most of us are not doctor freaks.  Most of us don't go unless there is a real problem we can't ignore and otc medication isn't helping.  We don't take particularly good care of ourselves, but we come from a long line of long livers, (nope, our livers are average size) and we come from a long line of people with silly and funny outlooks on life.  We come from a long line of laughers.

Rich history and a bright future, that is what I see when I look around me and it makes me smile, if not laugh-out-loud.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Purging the Furance-Play-Shithole Room

Furnace~Play Room Reclaimed

 Here is the famously missing counter in the Furnace~Play Room~Shithole room as of this morning.  There was no room for anything else to be slid in or shoved beside, although I could have piled a bit higher, I imagine.  I am so glad to be done with all of this.  Whew!

And it only took a few hours and a four trips up and down the stairs with the garbage bags, boxes and stuff for the trash.

Then I moved around to the corner area which held bedding and I had no idea what else.  Why bedding?  Because it's stuff I'm not using and couldn't throw away and hadn't found a place for it to live. *sigh*

It now has a home. Some of it went to the trash, but most of it fit nicely in some of those cupboards under that counter!  They were holding stuff from the salon I closed in 1999.  Yep, for real.  Trash now.

Then the play area.  Lot's of trash there and now just a big ole pile of good toys!

The corner  before....

  and AFTER!  Now it's just wrapping supplies and photo's plus my sewing machine and supplies. Behind the Christmas tree, which lives here!

Play Area  BEFORE


Thursday, November 17, 2011


The Writer's Post #23~Priorities

Ever have those days when you plan out exactly what needs to be accomplished and then the day unfolds and happens and it's suddenly nearing bedtime and you realize you have accomplished nothing from your 'list'? 

That happens to be every now and then. Not often, because I am a planner and I am a list maker and I love checking things off that list more than I like wandering around through my day doing, well, doing things NOT on my list. My lists are how I prioritize my days.  Important things go on my list and then I do them! That's the plan..  Since I am in charge of how my day is being spent, most of the time, I choose to follow my lists.

That being said, some of the best days are the ones where the list is just set aside.  Some of the worst days are those, as well.  Sometimes I plan to do a, b and then c and after that is done, I will do d and e. Some days, that is exactly what happens. While those days do make me happy because I enjoy being organized and feeling accomplished at the end of one of those days, they also lead to the next day and the next list.  On and on goes my life, for the most part.

A few weeks back I had planned one of those days (I almost always plan my days). I started with the first task of the day, which was clearing a counter in my basement.  Now, this counter is FULL from end to end of stuff. Some of this stuff is more accurately described as crap things I no longer need and have no idea why it wasn't in the dumpster months years ago.  Items that I take off said counter annually or more often, and then put back. Why?  I have no clue.  I am not a hoarder and for most areas of my house I am a very quick tosser outer of the aforementioned crapola type stuff.  But this counter remains my downfall failure junk heap challenge. Yeah, challenge, that's the word. I head down to the furnace room which doubles as a play room for the grand kids and is plenty large enough for all ~ minus the junky crapola covered counter ~ not horrible.  I inspect the room as I walk through the door and discover that I have not been very umm, vigilant about keeping the rest of the room from getting overrun.  It has gotten beyond a quick counter clean up.  This room is a days worth of up and down the stairs to the garbage and back for another load and maybe more than a day.  I pick up a few things and walk out to the garbage.  Dumping that I notice a pile of boxes and well, I don't know what else in the corner of my garage.

I can't go back downstairs and face that room, right now anyway. So I attack the pile.  About 2 hours later the pile has disappeared and I feel good about that.  My garage is kind of cleaned up.  There is more to do here.  But today isn't the day.

I head back downstairs and go to another room.  The tanning room.  All that is supposed to be in this room is the steam cleaner, it lives there.  The tanning bed.  A small table for the basket with lotions and cleaners and a towel. A clothes rack and a Rubbermaid box that holds the deck cushions in the winter. Somehow, this room is full of shit!  More boxes, empty.  Why are we saving these stupid boxes?  I order too much online.  Out they go.  Back to the garage with my boxes. Uh-oh.  I just cleaned out the boxes, didn't I?  Okay, keep going, these boxes cannot sit in this corner they need to go to the road for pick up.  Done.
Big ole pile-o-boxes by the road.

Okay the tanning room is sort of cleaned.  I finish up in there by emptying the closet of a bunch of stuff that I don't even remember putting in there.  It looks pretty good and I am exhausted.

Dinner time!

Where did that day go?  Sure the garage looks a little better and the tanning room looks good, but the play-furnace-shithole room is virtually untouched.  *sigh*

Ordered dinner from a local delivery place, (thanks Papa Joe's) fell into rest and relaxation mode on the loveseat and settled in for an evening of TV and FBing.

That list, the undone one, remains undone.  Maybe one of these days soon, I will revisit it.  This time, however, the list will contain only one item, "Clean the play-furnace-shithole room".

A day in the life....


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Veggie Soup

Tasty Tuesday~Buffalo Chicken Veggie Soup

Left over Buffalo Chicken cubed
1 Cup frozen peas with carrots
1 Cup frozen broccoli
1 Cup (1/2 bag) frozen pearl onions
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can Bud Light Lime beer
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded

Using the left over chicken from the Buffalo Chicken 11-08-2011 (see recipe at my blog site)

Add the first four ingredients to a dutch oven type pan over medium heat.  Add the can of beer and enough water to cover well.  Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour over low heat.  Veggies should be soft and chicken falling apart.  Add the soup and cheese.  Heat through and serve with your favorite crackers or bread. 


My Favorite Veteran

BFF #141
My Favorite Veteran

It goes without saying that my son would be my favorite, but he isn't the only one I salute, honor, thank and respect.  He is just one of the ones I personally love.  There are others.  My brothers-in-law, John Bowen, John Heroux and David Heroux; my daughter's fiance Scott McCord, my nephews Jeff Colon and Bob Thibeault and more friends than I could possibly remember.  I am going to talk about a couple of those friends here because I think more people should know more about who they really are.  That is, from my prospective, at least.

We all have had friends in our lives that just can't be replaced. I mean, they are the kind of people you always want to be around. When they aren't there you find yourself talking about them.  Sharing stories about the good times you've had with them or re-telling stories they themselves have told.  You know what I mean, a person you just can't imagine not having, in some capacity, in your life.  I had such a friend.  I believe 90% of the population of Durand, had such a friend.  He passed in June of 2009.  He suffered the last months of his life with cancer most likely caused by agent orange he had contact with in Viet Nam. He was a proud Veteran and a truly good man.  His sense of humor was legendary.  There was humor in most everything to him and if you didn't see it, he'd be happy to point it out to you.  He made me laugh every time I talked with him.  He was the neighbor who was always there for us.  He loved his wife, never any question about that.  His son and his son's family were the center of his universe; again, no question.  As devoted as he was to them, he had a gigantic circle of friends.  Not acquaintances, mind you, friends.  People who cared about him and people for whom he genuinely cared. Gary Brewer was a man among men.  That saying has always meant something special to me because more than anything I respect men who are men first.

The last few months of his life were very difficult for everyone who loved him and he did his best not to be a problem or worry.  But cancer doesn't let that happen.  We all worried and we all tried to help.  I cooked for him.  His beautiful wife told me he would eat whatever I took over for him, so I cooked so he would eat. I enjoyed thinking I was helping and he always thanked me.  Every day someone was at their house visiting him, if he was home.  At the hospital, someone was always there with his wife, Dolly, Mary to me, but that's a blog for another day. (The family of Mary's!)

The day Gary died the world changed for a lot of people and his funeral was attended by more people than I have ever seen at any funeral.  He was a loved, respected and finally an honored man.  May he forever rest in peace and enjoy his heavenly reward.  I miss him.

Another Gary that I love and have known for 20 some years has been in and out of my actual life since we first met.  I was his wife's hairdresser and I adored her, btw.  I met him when he accompanied her in for her cut and style and decided to let me have a shot at his crazy hair.  It is crazy hair, but if handled with care, it is really beautiful.  Yep, a lot of men have beautiful hair and just need a good cut and a couple of minutes to learn how to comb it after that cut!  I digress, again.  Gary knew his hair and directed me perfectly as to how I needed to proceed to make it work for him.  I continued to be his hairdresser until I took a leave to try my hand at education and sales in the Nexxus Product Company distribution center for Michigan.  I loved that job, but the year away meant a lot of my old clients had moved on.  Gary and Becky were among those who moved on.

We would see each other often around town, though, and always took a couple of minutes to catch up.  Wendy, his daughter was always a favorite client of mine, as well. I often saw either Gary or Becky with Wendy at the local feeding trough as none of us was doing much home cooking at that time.

Gary Smith is the kind of man who will always come if you have a need he can fix.  He will always support you if you are in need of support.  He will always have a kind word because he is a kind man.  If you were his friend, you are always his friend.  He served in the Navy and is a shining example of what a Veteran should be.  He is a patriot, a man of honor, a man of God, a man of truth.  Gary is my friend now and forever.

I did not learn of Becky's passing until quite some time after.  We were out of state when she died and no one mentioned it to me until I mentioned that I had seen Gary and Wendy at the restaurant and I thought he didn't look well.  I was inquiring about his health to a mutual friend.  I don't even remember who it was, but that friend told me of Becky's death.  I had spoken to Wendy and Gary at the restaurant, but only briefly and neither of them mentioned her.  I thought nothing of that, it was just a quick exchange.  I felt horrible finding out about their loss and I had acted as if nothing had changed.  It was awful.  The next time I saw him, I told him as much and then expressed my sorrow for his loss and my own, as well.  Being the kind and loving man he is, he said, "I thought you didn't know."  No guilt, no judgment.  Gary doesn't judge me.  Thank goodness.

So, I have many friends who are Veterans and many of them deserve an entire article about them alone, but for today here are two of my choices.  Two Gary's who have added so much quality to my life that I wanted to share them with all of you.

Thank you Gary Smith and thank you Gary Brewer for just being in my life.


My Hometown

My Hometown~Gaines, Michigan
BFF #140

One block long with 2 grocery stores, one drug store complete with fountain, a hardware, a bar, gas station, barber shop, post office, fire hall and an antique store.  I think that was it.  It isn't like this now, but back in the sixties when I was growing up, it was just about perfect.  All businesses were family owned except the fire hall and post office.  I knew all the families and they knew me.  How cool would that be now?

I still live in a small city, but I don't know anyone when I sit in the local restaurant for a meal.  We are always amazed how many people we don't know.  It isn't because people aren't friendly it's because people are always moving from town to town, state to state.  The people who were here when I raised kids and they raised theirs have moved on in great numbers.  There are some and I still see some now and then, but not as many as you might think since we've lived here since 1977.

Once in a while I drive over the 7 miles to the town I call my hometown, although I wasn't born there, I was raised there.  It has changed a great deal and it remains the same in ways.  It's downtown is still only a block long.  It still has a grocery, post office, but the town hall has replaced the fire hall which has been moved into a large new location a couple blocks away.  The drug store is gone. I am not sure what is in that location now, but at one time a pizza business was there, could still be, I don't know.  The bar is still there and still very much the center of action for the village.  The homes still look well cared for and many, many new ones have been built on the outskirts of town. The appeal of the tiny town USA apparently still exists.  The 'downtown' area still looks good.  Not falling down in decay, but not bustling as in my childhood days.

The friends I made then, many of them, are still friends I carry in my heart today.

If you'd like to see a little bit of this tiny town, follow the link to Village of Gaines.

A shot during one of the 'festival' type events...obviously a car show!

That's were I grew up, or as 'up' as I plan to grow~


Monday, November 14, 2011

Surprise! It's a Good Thing?

GBE2  Week #26

Who doesn't love a good surprise?  Well, I might raise my hand, if asked.  I like to know what's going to happen and when and who else will be there and how long it will last.  I could go on and on because I like to know what's on the agenda.  I'm a planner and a scheduler.  So, while  I don't necessarily care what is happening, I do want to know.

There is one exception that comes immediately to mind when someone says anything about surprising anyone with anything.  I remember when I was expecting and in those days it was a 50-50 guess as to the sex of your unborn child.  Had the technology been available to me, for sure I would have asked to be told.  Since it did not exist, I was left to be surprised.

I clearly remember being very sure that my first baby was a girl.  I never really doubted it, though I did choose a boy name, just in case.  The second time, I was pretty sure nothing was like my first pregnancy and so I thought PERHAPS it could be a boy, but I never felt sure.  I did have a girl first and I did have a boy second.  I was not surprised by the first one, I was very surprised by the second.  Probably the only really great surprise in my life until 1988.

I was working in the salon and had been telling my co-workers how disappointed I was that my son wouldn't be home for the holidays for the first time ever.  Maybe in January he could make it home, he would let us know.  He had enlisted and had left for his basic training in Florida the September prior.  Four days or so into his training he had turned 18.  He had notified me earlier in this week that he didn't have the money or much time for a trip all the way back to Michigan for Christmas.  I was very sad, but knew that being in the service meant he would miss a Christmas or more, depending on his deployment orders.  He was in the Navy, so his ship could conceivably be anywhere on December 25 for the next 4 years.  I tried to be prepared for this, but it was weighing on me.  I'm not as tough as some assume.

It was early afternoon when someone entered the salon.  My back was to the front door because I was busily combing out a regulars hairdo and deep in conversation.  I turned my head slightly toward the door and got a glimpse of a tall man in black at the door.  I welcomed him and then turned to fully face him while I instructed him to sign in and someone....
I stopped in the middle of that thought because standing inside the door of my salon was my 6'2" (or so) all grown up son wearing his "Johnny Cash" uniform.

He wanted to surprise me.  He chose this uniform because it was my favorite, the dress blues.  He never wore his uniform while on leave, I mean never.  He used to tell me that if I had to wear a uniform 7 days a week daylight to dark and sometimes beyond, I wouldn't wear one when it was optional, either.  I wanted him to wear it everywhere because I thought he looked magnificent in uniform, especially the dress blues.  The dress blues were totally black, head to toe and thus the nickname of the "Johnny Cash" uniform by the sailors.  

I remember, still, all these years later exactly how I felt in that moment.  First, I knew there was a God and he loved me. Second, I had never loved that man in the doorway more than at that moment. Third, As happy as I was, I still didn't like being surprised.  Fourth, no matter how 'in control' I think I am, I cry when I see my son.

Had I known he was coming, I would have had all his favorite foods in the house.  I didn't.  I would have baked something for him, I hadn't.  I would have gotten out of work early to go pick him up, which I hadn't.  

It was a fabulous surprise, but it ultimately put pressure on me to get all those things done for him AFTER his arrival and I wanted now to be free to take him back to the airport, when the visit was over.  I loved that he wanted to see my face when I saw him.  I loved that he went to all the trouble to arrange his transportation without telling me or my roomy.  I loved mostly, that he would be home for Christmas.

I also loved the U.S. Navy for knowing I really wanted my baby back home for the holidays and making that possible.