Friday, July 31, 2009

Reminders of Dad

When a loved one passes away
there are always special things that
you remember about them.

Their voices, their smiles,
their laughter, and their touch.

But with my dad,
I mostly remember
the things he surrounded
himself with.

Like Archie Bunker,
he had his very own chair.
Everyone knew not to
sit there-
and if by chance we brought home
a new friend or a date-
we always warned them beforehand
not to sit in the recliner.

Dad's chair had the best view of the T.V..
And a giant ashtray that rarely
caught all the dusty powder
from his Camel cigarettes.

The chair conformed to his shape only-
molded like soft clay
from years of use-
from long, hot afternoons
watching baseball
and cold winter evenings
curled up with a funny sitcom.

He had slippers by the door,
a radio by his bed,
and a certain coffee cup
that he used every day.

And my dad
had a "Hamshack".

His Hamshack started out as
a place for Dad and my brother John
to tinker with their ham radio hobby.
The plywood walls were lined
with QSL cards from all
over the country.
And somehow I remember
the call numbers of

I remember the little tappers
that sent out signals
across the airwaves-
the rusty buckets full of
glass tubes and capacitors
and copper wrapped guts
of some dissected shortwave.

I remember my dad's books.
Shelves of that hamshack were
lined with dogeared Westerns
and yellowed sci-fi paperbacks.
And his big, brown-framed eye glasses
always looked a bit smudgy
as he wiggled his toes
while he read.

I do remember how Dad
steered my life
without ever preaching,
or lecturing.
He did it all with facial expressions.

All it took
was one look at Dad
to know you were in trouble,
that you were wrong,
or that
"you better not ask".

But we always knew
that he loved us.

Happy Birthday, Dad.
We miss you.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'll Have'ta Pass On The Skinny Jeans

A few months back,
I had the excruciating chore
of having to try on clothes.

In today's society-
if you're not a size four
and eighteen years old,
it becomes a sea of fashion
that can easily drown
a woman like me.

My four-year-old grandson
happened to be with me that day,
and, as I removed my jeans
to try on a pair of capris,
he looked at me critically
and said-
(with his bit of boyish lisp)-
"Nana- you sure have
thubby little legs!"

Well, of course I do!
Unlike my daughter- (his mother)
who evidently ate ostrich food
sometime during her growth spurt
and now owns a nice set of long, lean limbs.

Needless to say,
my shopping then came to
an abrupt halt-
and my self-confidence
was shattered beyond repair.

I knew my legs were old.
And lily-white.
And a little vein-y.

But "thubby?"

Was that stubby, chubby, or tubby?

Either, way-
I was a loser!

But today I may have found the answer.
Leg lengthening!

It's the newest craze in plastic surgery.
Now you can have new boobs,
new face, new body,
and new legs!

Doctors must first break the leg bones
and a cast must be worn for nine months.
The cost?
Around $26,000.

But one young Russian woman
who had the operation performed
hopes to gain at least four inches
in the length of each leg.
And she describes the healing as
a pain of joy-
confident of a successful outcome.
(Even though a quarter of the patients
experience side effects
such as bone infections
and malformations).

On second thought-
I really don't have the luxury
of sitting around on crutches
for nine months.

I don't have $26,000, either.

And, to me- no pain
is considered a joy.
They are completely opposite feelings,
and - on my emotional chart-
they are extremely far away from each other.

I suppose I'll have to continue on
with the legs that God gave me.

But what were you thinking, God?
Of all things...


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dream Job

There never seems to be
anything positive in
the news anymore.

It's all about politics
and Wall Street
and dead movie stars.

We get undulated with
laws and regulations
and homicides.

What a wonder that
I actually ran across a very
interesting article yesterday
that could bring joy and happiness
to many women!

Scientists are looking for 40 women
that are willing to eat chocolate
every day for a year.

I'm in!!!

What a fantastic job!
What delicious benefits!

Researchers in England are
curious to find out if chocolate
can reduce the risk
of heart disease.

Most of the women will
have to eat two bars of
"super-strength chocolate-
specially formulated by Belgian chocolatiers."

Every day.
Every single day for 365!

Tell me I'm dreaming.

The others will have to eat
just regular chocolate.

I can go for that.

Where do I sign up?

I'm even ready to sacrifice
some things in my regular diet
to make up for the extra calories.

Things like toast, croutons,
mustard, and cinnamon.

If I were chosen,
I'd definitely consider it
to be my job for a year.

I would take it seriously.

Then, when my husband
got on to me for lounging
around in the evening-
stuffing chocolate into my face-
I could just turn to him and say,

"Look, Buddy- I'm workin' here.
I'm doin' this for science!"

But right now, I gotta quit blogging.
I'm off to England!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

True Confessions

Everyone has embarrassing moments.

I don't care who you are.

Even the rich and famous
and intellectually superior
trip up on occasion.

But most just don't talk about it.

You guessed it.
I'm here today to share
my most embarrassing moment.

If you are prudent
and proper and downright
easily grossed out,
discontinue reading this
and go on to the next blog
about puppy dogs
or sweet desserts.

This memorable event took place
about five or six years ago.

My husband and I were both on diets
and had not consumed any type of
greasy food or fast food takeout
for several months.

This particular evening, however,
he had been called to his
cousin's new home to help fix the
water pump.

With no time to fix dinner,
we pulled into the local Burger King
and treated ourselves to a Whopper.

Why on earth we chose that meal
after existing on vegetables and
broiled fish for half a year-
is, well...

We arrived at their house-
a beautiful country home
with a built-on gazebo in the back
that overlooked the water
and wandering deer.

The family made me feel welcome
as the guys began working on
the water lines and plumbing.

We relaxed in front of the
big screen TV-
situated in their lovely basement
and we began to chat
and watch some program.


My stomach began rolling a bit.

I tried my best to ignore
the tidal wave that was taking place
in my abdomen,
but it only seemed to get worse-
actually beginning to work its way down
into what I suspected might become
an explosive bowel movement.

I pressed my lips tightly together
while I listened politely
and tried to smile brightly
as a storm wreaked havoc
with my intestines.

I began to sweat.
Little hamburger-grease-drops of perspiration
that only added to that noxious feeling
I was trying to contain.


"May I use your bathroom?I asked,
suddenly standing up like a good soldier
and squeezing my buttocks together as
tightly as I could without being obvious.

Of course- the nearest bathroom
was well within earshot
and I had no choice but to make a retreat
and relieve myself
of this gastronomical fetus
I was about to give birth to.

I can't begin to explain it.
But I know you've all experienced it.

The cold sweats.
The twisting cramps.
The sudden, swift explosion
of liquid and stench
that overcomes
the entire room.

And there was no way to
be quiet.
Pockets of trapped air
came out with shreds of lettuce
and yesterday's corn-
all floating disgustingly
in the new white porcelain stool.

I felt so much better when I was finished.
I was hoping that no one heard
and now that I was done-
I could go back and continue
what started out as a nice evening.

I reached to flush.



I flushed again.

Holy crap! The water was turned off
to fix the plumbing! The darn thing
wouldn't flush!

Maybe if I covered it in paper
it wouldn't look so bad-
Maybe I could secretly get my husband
to turn the water back on for a moment
just so I could empty the stool-
Maybe I should go jump in the lake
and save myself the utter embarrassment-

I didn't know which way to turn.

But in the end, I simply walked out-
took my seat back on the sofa-
joined the conversation-
and acted as though
nothing had ever happened.

Once the plumbing had been fixed,
I hurried my husband out to the car-
quickly making my exit
before that hideous bowel-brew
was discovered.

Luckily, we rarely see his cousin.
But, rest assured-
if I ever see them coming-
I'll go the opposite direction.

I feel better now-
Sharing my story and all.

It sure was a Whopper, wasn't it?

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Stupidest Blog I've Written So Far

I've tried my best to expose you all
to the many untraditional holidays

and mini-celebrations
that you may not be aware of.

But today's holiday beats all.

Probably on the top of the "strangest" list.
Today is
Take Your Houseplant For a Walk Day.




I always attempt to

conform to society,

so I figured,
"What the heck?"-
I'll participate in this special day
and actually take
my houseplant for a walk.

The first problem was picking
which plant got to go with me.
The dying fern,
the wilted ficus,

or the droopy philodendron.

Fern looked the least likely
live much longer,

so I chose to take her
her last round through
neighborhood as a final farewell.

Believe me-
the leash was a booger
to attach
because every time I tried,
another brown leaf would snap
or crunch-
or float sadly to the carpet.

I finally clipped onto the plastic pot,
and away we went.

I knew immediately that
the whole thing was a big mistake.

Every yard I passed was overflowing
with colorful flowers
and immaculate greenery.

Ferns the size of
small elephants

swayed from porches
and decks-
and soon neighbors began to stare

as I continued to drag
anorexic plant down the walk.

I glanced over my shoulder
just in time to see another

handful of brown leaves
drop off
and trail behind us.

People came out onto
front steps and pointed.
Most glared.

Some even heckled.

But, even worse,

one lady threatened to

report me to Plant Abuse Hotline.

I slipped into the nearest
coffee shop where Fern and I

were safe from critical eyes

and decided to rest for awhile.

I ordered a Cafe' Latte for myself

and an Espresso Miracle Gro
for the plant.

But, as I feared, it was
really too late.

The guy behind the counter
staring at us as I tried
hide Fern beneath my jacket.

It didn't help that the shop

was full of bouncing banana plants-

full and green and obviously
well cared for.

I felt like a failure.

By the time I got back home,

Fern was simply an
half-empty pot
of old soil-
her soul being lost somewhere

between the soccer field

and Tommy's Tires.

But one thing the

Take Your Houseplant For A Walk Day

did for me
was to make me realize that

we are not all cut out to be
"plant moms".

We don't all have green thumbs,
magic soothing voices,
rooms full of sunshine,
and entire days to prune
and pick

and primp.

I must admit that I can't even get

my Chia pet to grow.

better days are yet to come.
Friday's odd holiday is
National Cheesecake Day!


Sorry, Fern.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bless You, Betty!

Do you hear that?

Listen closely...

Yes! It's my new wiener whistle!!!!

Brand- spanking new- Just out of the wrapper mini-frank!!!

And I have to thank one loyal follower for this great gift,
which I consider
a prestigious award.

It would have a special place
on my mantle - if I had a mantle.

Kinda like an Oscar or a Grammy.

I never get those cute Blogger awards
with artsy badges to display on my site.

But- hey- who needs them?


Wiener Whistle!!!!!

So- this is the story:

My sister Jewel called me up last week
after my
Wiener, Wiener, Wiener post
and said she found the following note
addressed to me on her desk at work.

Rae, I just wanted to make your day a little better on "National Hot Dog Day". THIS IS FOR YOU! And I want you to know that I had to sing the "Oscar Meyer" song to get this a year ago in Texas, and unlike your sister Jewel, I CAN'T SING!! Like you, I also never met a hot dog I didn't like. From one of your faithful readers...You make my day every morning when I read your blog and also, I like your sister Linda's replies. Both of you girls missed your should be writers!!! Keep it up. Love ya all, Betty Mullins

Now, I don't know about you, but
that puts a tear in my eye.
This world is still full of
wonderful people.

Betty- if I passed you on the street,
I wouldn't even know you.
But your kindness will always be
remembered and treasured
and your note and gift
is now among my most
prized possessions.

There are days when I'm tired
and uninspired and think that
I cannot possibly write another
blog post.
But, then I imagine (and hope)
there are invisible readers out there
that enjoy my daily ramblings.

It's great to have purpose.

This is to all of you!
Who have given me much more
than I have given you...

Thank you, Betty.
I am honestly honored.

Here's a big toot
on my wiener whistle
just for you!!

When I'm an old lady-
sitting out my golden years
by some obsolete computer-
trying to peck out a blog post
with arthritic fingers-
I will still have my wiener whistle.

And I will think of the day that Betty Mullins
selflessly sacrificed her own award
so that I could have my dream.

Toot! Toot!
Thank you, Betty-
I LOVE IT!!!!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Newest Favorite Things

When it comes to
trying new things,
most times I'm like an old dog.

But, lately I've made an effort
to expand my choices beyond
the tried and true
and- at the very least-
try something once.

Here's a list of my
New Favorite Things:

Favorite new Cleaning product:
Even though I have twelve hundred
cleaning products under my kitchen sink,
they all seem inadequate at one point or another.
And I bet 90 percent of them are
lemon or pine scented.
Well, out came Mr. Clean with Febreeze-
and what a breath of fresh air!
Not only does it smell nice-
it seems to do a good job on most
cleaning projects.
Favorite new Laundry product:
Call me lazy.
Or just call me innovative.
But what could be more simple
than Purex 3 in 1?
It's detergent in a sheet form-
(about the size of a dryer sheet).
You toss it in the wash-
and it is soap.
Remove it along with your
clean clothes and, once in the dryer,
it serves as a static guard
and a fabric softener.
I love the idea of no measuring
or spilling and it's not like a
heavy, bulky bottle of detergent.
I found out that the Rain scent
smells a lot like a man's after shave-
or as my daughter says-
like an old lady perfume.
So, steer away from that if you have
an aversion to those smells.
My choice is the Tropical scent-
and so far I've had no complaints.
For you avid Tide users-
Purex may not be the top cleaning source-
but I wash mostly work clothes and towels,
so it meets my needs fairly well.

Favorite new Recipe:
I found a great recipe on a blog
that I have tried twice already
and personally enjoy.
It's a great Tortellini Salad.
Not only does it taste good-
but it's easy, to boot!
Go to:

for details.
I use an extra bottle of the dressing-
just because I happen to like my pasta salads
very moist-
and I am tempted to toss in some
feta cheese and tomatoes.
Maybe next time!

Favorite new Snack:
Besides the Tortellini Salad above,
I've had a craving for
Tostito's Creamy Spinach Dip.
I wasn't sure if I'd like it,
but lately it's been my choice of
an afternoon pick-me-up snack
when dinner seems too far away.
Paired with baked corn chips,
it doesn't take much to satisfy
that tummy growl.
And if you're not counting calories-
it's also great with Hawaiian bread
instead of the traditional dill dip.

Favorite new TV Program:
Since all my favorite fall shows
are in rerun status,
it's been pretty boring when
the TV comes on each evening.
One summer show that premiered
last year is Wipeout-
and since the choices are slim,
it has become my new favorite.
There is just something hilarious
about people falling and slipping
and breaking their faces open
that appeals to some
scary monster inside of me.

Favorite new Blog:
I follow lots of blogs lately.
Some favorites are:

These bloggers are just downright talented
and creative and always give me something
to think about.
My newest favorite is
Usually she's honest, funny and entertaining.

So, start thinking outside the box.
Try new things.
And get you some of that Tortellini Salad!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eggshells In The Cupcakes And Other Disasters

My family knows I'm
not much of a cook.

I can fry eggs, but
my fried chicken sucks.

I can bake potatoes,
but my mashed ones fail.

My spaghetti turns out,
but my lasagna lacks pizazz.

I quit trying to make pie crusts,
never attempt anything gourmet,
and my very favorite kitchen gadget
is the can opener.

I always wanted to be one
of those great cooks
that everybody loves.
Kinda like Paula Deen.
(Without the accent and
over-enthusiastic drama).

I always wanted the family
to call me up and request I make
a certain dish for the reunion,
a special cake for an event,
or some great finger food
for their party.

I always wanted my kids
to be able to brag to their
friends that I make a
fantastic pork roast
or blackberry cobbler
or organic pizza.

I wanted friends and strangers alike
to plead for my recipes,
long for my culinary lessons,
and go into a heavenly trance
when tasting my concoctions.

I always wanted a kitchen
that smelled like sugar cookies
instead of burnt fish.

...A kitchen lined with cookbooks
and not take-out coupons.

...A kitchen that was a organized wonder
and not a "I wonder if it will ever get organized."

A kitchen so clean and bright
that you could eat off the floor-
not feed the dog off the floor scraps.

I wanted to be the kind of cook
that hears kind words.

Like: "Yum" instead of "Yuck".

"Cool!" instead of "Crap!".

"Awesome" instead of "Awful".

I'll admit- at least my meals are edible.
I haven't yet resorted to TV dinners,
carry-out every night,
or freeze dried astronaut food.
(Even though the family
is encouraging me to do so.)

So, in reality, I guess Rae's diner
is just another one of those
video daydreams...

But that doesn't keep me from trying.
Tonight I'm experimenting with
Bearnaise sauce.

But do you know how hard it is
to find a bear in these parts?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Calgon- Take Me Away!

If you have never undergone
a home remodeling project
or room renovation,
then you haven't really haven't
walked on the wild side.

You haven't pushed the envelope,
faced the devil,
or risked you life.

Right now we are in the process
of remodeling our bathroom.
It needed a vanity
and a new light
and you would think that would be
a two hour project
and we'd be done.


I guess there are drawbacks
being married to a perfectionist.
At least as far as the mechanical
aspects of life are concerned.
He refuses to start any project
without a level,
a tape measure,
a flashlight,
and a pencil.

Then that grows eventually
to a saw, some pliers,
a hammer, and some nails.

Next, we add a screw gun,
a crescent wrench,
duct tape,
wire cutters,
wood chisel,
nail setter,
and box knife.

All those are sitting in
my bathroom floor.

Along with two inches of
dry wall dust.

Oh, didn't I tell you
that we moved the electrical outlets,
patched some unsightly bumps
and nail holes in the wall,
redid the entire ceiling,
moved the hot and cold water lines,
installed an exhaust fan,
and removed all the doors
for painting?

What gets me is all these
fancy home decorating magazines
that show you wonderful
Before and After photos.
They never speak about the

They never tell you about
the blisters,
broken nails,
and bang ups.
They fail to mention
the "dinners after midnight",
the arguments,
the other rooms that
grow into junk mountains,
the dust in your throat,
the do-overs,
the trash piles,
the inconveniences,
the baby whining-
(Wait a minute!
I don't have a baby!...)

Oh... sorry,
that was just my husband.

Anyway-like I said-
it's not the Before or After
that matters.
It's the During.

Makes me wanna take
that House Beautiful magazine
and shove it
where the flashlight don't shine!


And this breaking news report might interest you!!
An Oscar Meyer Wienermobile crashed into the home and outdoor deck of Nick Krupp AP – An Oscar Meyer Wienermobile crashed into the home and outdoor deck of Nick Krupp in Racine, Wis. on Friday …

MOUNT PLEASANT, Wis. – One southern Wisconsin homeowner is probably not in love with the Oscar Mayer wiener. The famed hot dog's Wienermobile crashed Friday into the deck and garage of a home in Mount Pleasant, about 35 miles south of Milwaukee.

Police said the driver was trying to turn the Wienermobile around in the driveway and thought she was moving in reverse. But she instead went forward and hit the home. It sat in the driveway as if it were stuck in the garage Friday afternoon.

No one was home and no one was injured. No citations were immediately issued.

Both the home and vehicle suffered moderate damage, which Oscar Mayer spokeswoman Sydney Lindner says insurance will cover.

Police hadn't been able to speak to the homeowner as of early Friday evening.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunsets, Romance, and Another Olive, Please

Okay. So you know how I'm into these odd holidays
and celebrations-
Well,July is National Share A Sunset With Your Lover Month.

So, I thought- why not?
Why not take advantage
of a little-known holiday
to reap some romantic action
and tune into the beauty
and quiet of nature
at the same time?

I set the stage.
(I like to do that, you know).

Saturday evening I prepared
a great meal for my husband,
washed his back when he showered
(don't I always?),
and brought him his slippers
and an iced mug of beer.

"Let's go out back and
watch the sunset, shall we?"
I said, snapping the elastic
on my giant Bozo sleep pants,
and winking at him suggestively.

"Got something in your eye?
he asked, not moving from
the front of the TV,
"And, hey- my mug is dry.
Bring me another?"

I rushed to the kitchen
to fetch another beer
before the sunset completely
disappeared over the horizon.

While I was there,
I decided to mix up a margarita
for myself with six olives
and a nice thick rim
of honey and salt.
(Believe me- besides coffee
and chocolate- this is my
only vice!)

"Come on!" I pleaded,
passing off the beer
and tying my tennis shoes.

"If you've seen one sunset,
you've seen them all," my
husband said dryly,
still flipping channels
and chugging his Miller Lite.

"But...Honey- it's Share The Sunset
With Your Lover Month...." I informed him-
rubbing his shoulders and
emptying my drink till
the ice cubes rattled.

He finally agreed-
and after another trip to
the kitchen to see Jose Cuervo,
we stepped outside
to gaze at the sky.

He cranked up the garage stereo
to a loud rock station-
(so much for peace and quiet)
and our flea-bitten mutt
shared our laps.

"Is that a deer?" he peered
under his eye-shielding hand.
"Go get me my binoculars!"

I stumbled back into the house,
grabbed the binoculars-
and another drink
and two more olives.

"Yep- that's a big buck there", he
exclaimed, shrugging off my
nibble to his ear
to move closer to the fence row.
Then he starts talking about
hunting and camo and targets
and bow season
and I rattle my ice cubes again.

"Oh- I hear my cell phone ringing."
he said.

And, of course, I go fetch the phone-
taking time with each step
as I watch my feet
turn into blurry-looking blobs
and my legs grow rubbery.

I spruced up my little drinky-poo
and fell back down the deck steps
and into the lawn swing
while my husband informed
the caller that it was
Sunset Lookin' Day or something.

The sky began to do a
little twirly thing
and my eyes kept closing-
and before I knew it-
it was dark outside and
my husband was leading me
into the house.

Once under the covers,
he turned my direction
and smiled,
giving me a little wink.

'Got sumphin' in yer eye?'
I slurred.

So much for Share A Sunset
With Your Lover Month.
But hey- we can celebrate
Sweetest Day in October.

Oh, crap! Forget that one!
That's the beginning of
hunting season!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wiener, Wiener, Wiener

Tomorrow is national Hot Dog Day
and I'll most likely be celebrating
with a mustard-slathered Oscar Meyer.

Or maybe two.

Well, three's my limit.


I think I like hot dogs so much
because they are so easy and versatile.
You can eat them all cold and wet
from the package-
or put them on a long stick and
burn them over a fire.

You can nuke them, grill them,
boil them, and crock pot them.
You can deep fry them in batter,
wrap them in a crescent roll,
and pair them with bbq beans.

How great is that?

So, you don't have to be Rachel Ray
to prepare hot dogs for your family.
you don't have to be a mathematician
to realize there are usually ten dogs
to a package
and only eight buns.

But don't panic.
I'm here to help.

You must buy five 8-pack buns
and four ten-pack hot dogs
to break even.

Here's some more trivia for
you wiener lovers:

450 hot dogs are eaten every second
of every day of every year,
on average about 65 per person
in the United States annually.

95 percent of homes serve hot dogs.

Most dogs are eaten at home,
15 percent purchased from street vendors.
9 percent bought at ball parks.

Mustard remains the hottest topping,
used regularly by 87.6 percent of the eaters.

The top dog for most folks is the 6-incher,
preferred by 48.3 percent of us:
26 percent like a 7-incher:
4 percent, the foot long.

The only food-shaped vehicle
that I know of is the

Created in 1936 to promote
Oscar Meyer products,
they started a contest where the winners
get to ride in the hot dog shaped car.

And they hand out wiener whistles to the crowds.
How cool is that?

I used to like my cold hot dogs
dipped in vinegar and salt.
I think that was a glitch in
the Crawford gene pool,
but- hey- they are pretty good.
Try it sometime.

But, no matter what brand
or style you choose,
or how you cook them,
celebrate National Hot Dog Day
with a mouth full of fun.

The weather is going to be perfect.
The grill is going to be hot.
My mouth is already watering.

The only thing that would make
the day any better is-
if I could just get my hands
on one of those wiener whistles!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

With Gratitude

It's been a year today
since I first sat down right here
and made my first blog entry.

At the time, I wasn't positive
that I'd find things to write about-
and I had suspicions that it would
be one of the many unfinished
projects in my life.

But soon it became habit.
And therapy.
And practice exercising my heart.

Along the way, I've made new friends-
and I want you all to know
how much I appreciate your comments
and support.
Even if I don't know your name
or recognize your face,
I am glad we met.

There were days that
I just wanted to crawl back into bed.
But- no-
I had to write my blog!
(People were waiting).

There were days that
I just wanted to cry,
but I wanted so much to make you laugh.
(And as a result,
I ended up laughing, too.)

I've found myself along the way.

I have learned honesty
and imagination
and the bittersweet passing of time.

I have tried to be entertaining, yet real.

I have hoped to leave a part of me on this earth
through a trail of words.
Things I want my kids and grandkids to know.

Things that tell them who I am.

I've learned that
it doesn't really matter how you say it-
just that you do.

Like my three year old great nephew, Hayden,
so eloquently put it:
"God puts words in our tummy."
No wonder I feel so bloated!

Thanks for celebrating a year with me!
We've still got lots of pondering to do,
so stay on my porch.

We might even catch a nap later!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Up On The Rooftop

It was a hot July day several years ago
that my husband decided it was
time to roof the house.
A remodeling job had left
the entire family exhausted-
from mixing mortar
to stuffing insulation up in the rafters-
to fetching beer and sandwiches
between strict potty breaks.

I know the kids were relieved
that they could finally sit inside the cool comfort
of the house and watch cartoons
while Mom and Dad hammered
away on the roof.

The big ladder was propped up
and my husband scaled it
like a monkey after a banana.

"You want me up there?" I asked,
hoping that my job consisted of
some type of ground work.

"Hell, yes, I want you up here!"
he shouted with a short fuse burning,
"And grab that other hammer on your way."

I gripped the metal ladder
and stepped up.
One step.
Two steps.

"I can't!" I shivered, looking up to see
his face in a contorted mess of red
bulging veins -
which I knew quite well
was his signal for anger.

"Get up here!" he yelled,
holding out a hand over the edge
of the roof-
as if that was going to reach
ten foot down and pull me into
the safety of a soft cloud or something.

Three steps.

My entire body pulsed
as though an electric current
shivered through me.
The ladder rattled.
My feet turned to rubber.
The earth seemed to disappear
beneath me.

Six and seven.
Soon I was at the roof line
and my husband helped me over
with a smug grin on his face.

"Over here", he motioned,
walking quickly upright to the front of the house-
while I crawled like a little baby
on my hands and knees.

The whole time I handed him shingles,
I was in a reclining position-
hoping my long fingernails
or big toes might save me in a fall.
Yet, still considering what possible pain
might be inflicted if I simply
rolled off the edge.

About a half hour into the
shingle, hammer, shingle, hammer rhythm
we had going,
I looked out over the countryside
and saw how beautiful everything looked
from my new vantage point.

There were horses in the pasture,
a big red barn next door,
a little pond beyond the trees,
and patterns in the hay field.
There was-

"Quit your daydreaming and hand me
a shingle!" I suddenly heard, waking me
from my trance.

By noon I was assuming the gorilla stance-
not quite walking upright,
but hunched over with a definite swagger,
still watching each foot as I set it in place.

It took two days to finish that roof.
We were sunburned
and sore
and perhaps more deeply bonded together
in some sick, freaky way.

I doubt that I will ever roof again.

But that experience taught me
to face my fears
and that real team work can be
refreshing and satisfying in the end.

"Can we go back up there now and then,
just to look over the fields?" I asked,
missing the great view I had.

"Are you crazy?" he spit.

There went those bulging veins again.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My New Dreams

Saturday morning a storm came through
and I think it fried my computer!
Sorry I didn't post yesterday,
but today I've got the laptop hooked up
and hopefully I can struggle through with
this touch pad mouse.....


The older I get, the less I care
about "having things".
And by that I mean things
that money can buy.

As a young bride I looked forward
to the day of having a shiny new car,
a rambling ranch style house
(with a cool den, a winding drive,
chandeliers and an English garden)-
and clothes from the best
mail order catalogs.
(Sears and Wards was all I knew.)

I dreamed of taking worldly vacations,
joining exclusive clubs,
and having so many friends
that they wouldn't all fit
in my house
when I hosted a dinner party-
(complete with shrimp cocktail,
cloth napkins, a real ice bucket,
and long conversations about
fashion, politics,
and money market accounts.)

And I would be
the luckiest girl in the world!

Perhaps it is old age.
Maybe it is simply wisdom...
But -
now all those things seem so

And most of all-
they seem like someone else's dreams.

Today my thoughts flow to a little
cabin in the woods-
unobtrusive and very rustic
with a welcome mat
and an old dog
and corny wind chimes
that are ticked by the breeze.

The rusty- but dependable-
pick up truck is parked
in the gravel drive,
still full of yesterday's
treasure from the flea markets.

There's a big screened-in porch
with a swing
and a squeaky ceiling fan
that sings to me
while I curl up with a good book.

I'm wearing torn jeans
and my favorite old sweater
and super warm slippers
that make my feet look enormous.
(But, like I said-
they're super warm...)

The calendar on my fridge
is free of any notes-
except for the special family birthdays
and anniversary's that are
celebrated in my small kitchen-
(usually with a
lopsided home made cake
and hot dogs on the grill.)

I have no appointments scheduled
or vacations planned
or people to see.
The kids and grandkids stop in
for a bag of zucchini
and fresh eggs from our hen house.
We share kisses
and sticky hugs
and long stories about school
and movies
and music
and fun.

And my best friends
are still my sisters-
because no one else really matters anyway.

My garden is full of vegetables
and jack-o-lanterns
and flowers I don't know
the names of.
And weeds.
Yeah, pretty much.

My husband comes home
and we watch the sunset.
Then after supper we take
a walk out in the woods
to a clearing where the fireflies play
and where the full moon makes
shadows on the open fields.

Our conversation
is about everything and nothing.
Mostly nothing-
except an occasional "I love you"
and "Isn't that beautiful?" and
"We need to spend more time out here."
and so on....and so on....

I curl up into my bed
under a raveled quilt-
a wood fire simmering into ashes
in the stove-
still wearing those slippers....

and I know without a doubt
that I am the luckiest woman
in the world.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hair We Go Again

I had a mullet once.

I don't share that information
with just anyone, you know.
Makes me look like
a moronic hillbilly.

But it wasn't a matter of
bad taste or following a trend.
It was solely the fault
of a bad hairdresser.

I'm here to tell you today
that just because they have
a certificate or diploma
hanging above their shampoo bowl-
doesn't mean they are qualified
to brandish a pair of scissors!

Sometimes it's just a gut feeling
that can save you from the
chopping block, so to speak.

Any beautician with blue hair,
tons of pomade,
or, in fact, a mullet-
simply cannot be trusted.

It seems to me there are a lot
of newly graduated students
who think they are creating
trends in bouffant history-
but, the bottom line is-
they are just screwing around
with sharp tools.

I had a girl cut my hair once
that had her little pinkie nail pierced.

She brandished this tiny chain
with a star hanging from it
that was linked through her fingernail.

Every time she ran her fingers
through my hair,
I cringed.
And when I got home later,
I kept waiting for that little star
to fall out of my head.

And, let's get real folks-
any hair dresser that approaches you
wearing stilettos and a mini skirt
doesn't really care
what your stupid hair looks like anyway.

The problem with giving
your beautician a picture of
what you want-
is that they all seem to have
vision problems.
It never ends up looking
like the photo.

I went in to the beauty shop one day
with a picture of Jennifer Anniston-
and came out looking like
Billy Ray Cyrus.

Took two years
and 730 paper sacks
before it was ever right again.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Preparing For Visitors

These hot, sunny days of summer
can bring back vivid memories.
Some people recall exotic vacations,
romantic interludes,
sandy beaches
and tall drinks.

But not me.

It all brings back the summer
that my mother-in-law
came to visit.

Now, you've got to understand
that Martha was a wonderful person
and a fantastic grandma to my kids,
but she had a certain way about her-
a critical eye, a puff of royalty,
a smidgen of sarcasm,
and a definite expectation
of how things ought to be.

Bottom line:
She had nice things.
I didn't.

So for one entire week,
we threw our bodies and souls
into high gear-
just to prepare the house,
the yard,
the kids,
and our world-
for Martha's arrival.

With the chance of making
my husband and I sound like
Poor White Trash,
I must tell you that we
were not.

We were just young hippies then.
We had couches with blankets over them,
lava lamps, stacks of LPs,
plastic dishes, an 80 pound inside dog,
and a water bed.

No other bed.
Just that.

To me, that was troublesome.

To my husband,
that was funny.

We had managed to get through
the first half of summer
without an air conditioner.
Other than trying to save money,
we tried to live as basic
and down-to-earth as we could.

We had purchased a window unit
from a friend years before
and had used it only occasionally.
I called it the FireBomb
because it was old, loud,rusty
and probably dangerous.

That summer it was
parked out in the barn-
peeking out beneath
layers of dust and old tires
and junk that Martha
would cringe over.

But it had to be revived
for the comfort and coolness
of our company.

It took the two of us
to pull it out into the sunlight
and we began the process
of cleaning it up
for its grand window insertion.

My husband grabbed the
garden hose and began cleaning
off the coils
and condenser-
and all those dang dirt-dabber nests
that had glued themselves
to the FireBomb.

All of a sudden,
out came hundreds of
wet chicken feathers!

Apparently, a family of mice-
(Or rats- heaven forbid),
had utilized molted chicken down
to fluff their sweet little nests
inside that old air conditioner.

But, in a few hours,
the unit was in the window-
puttering like
a muffler-less motorcycle,
making the living room
a cool den of summer retreat.
It was quite nice, really.

Now, all I can say is
Martha was happy.
Which made us happy.
And except for the water bed thing,
the visit went well.

And we kept the FireBomb
in the front window
and used it every single day
until the first frost.

Every once in awhile,
a tiny piece of feather
would poof out like a grain of dust-

and we'd just smile...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Never In A Million Years

Thought you might all like to know
that July 6-12 is Nude Recreation Weekend.
It's purely your choice
whether you decide to
participate or not.

It didn't take me long to
decide that the world
just doesn't need a bunch
of naked people
playing sports.

I mean, how fun could it be?

"What are all those knots all over you, Mom?"

"Oh, Dad and I were playing Nude Volleyball
and he kept spiking the ball at all my
so-called "targets". I got him back,though.
He's in his recliner with a 20 pound bag of ice
in his lap."

"Your chin looks bruised, too. What's up with that?"

"Well, I tried to spike a few myself- and.. well,
no sports bra. Funny how a saggy mammary can
do such damage."

"You look burnt. Did you wear sunscreen?" And, believe me- whatever places on
my body were pastey white before are
now a tomato soup color with blisters the size
of Chewbacca's head."

"Couldn't you have played something else?"

"Sure, but football in the nude
is fairly dangerous, fishing while naked
scares the fish, playing baseball without
clothes on can be painful when sliding into home,
and one blow to the boobs with a basketball
can be debilitating for life."

"I heard you stopped traffic."

"Yea, but those people weren't nice.
I can't repeat the things they yelled
from their car windows. Some were
threats. Oh- remind me to change
our phone number later."

"What's wrong now? Got poison ivy
or something?"

"No, just sand in all my cracks."

to those of you who decide
to celebrate-
be careful with the hot charcoal,
watch for the mosquitoes,
and don't forget to shave your legs!

And as I always say-
To each his own.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Berry Pickin'

This time of year reminds me
of my mom and I
going blackberry picking.

That was probably one of
the rare times
that I had her all to myself-
no bratty brothers
or game shows
or getting supper ready-
to interfere
with our mother/daughter bonding.

Just me and mom.
And a craving for fresh berries.

We scrounged up buckets somewhere,
dressed up in long sleeved flannel,
blue jeans,
thick socks,
and heavy shoes-
and then headed down the
dusty July road
to find the prime picking spots.

The Grotoff's owned a farm
down near the creek
and mom had permission to
cross the gate and wander
over the fields
to get to the berries.

They were so thick-
bulging over the barbed wire-
overflowing into the creek bank-
lined up against the bean fields
with berries blacker than night
and jucier than juicy.

At first they
plinked into our empty buckets
like a musical notes,
but soon became a soft mound
of blue sweetness,
enough for several pies
and some sugar and milk.

We crossed the creek
where the cool water
seeped into my shoes and socks,
causing my blue jeans to
become heavy and awkward.

But we persevered.

I don't remember what we talked about
or how long we were gone-
I only remember that
I was with Mom
and that was all that mattered.

On one occasion,
upon arriving back home,
I headed for the bathroom to clean up
and had difficulty stripping
off my wet jeans.

So- I sorta braced myself-
(kinda sat, really),
on the rim of the bathroom sink
to get a better handle
on that wet denim.

All of a sudden
the sink broke off the wall-
sending water everywhere
and pipes gushing with
more H2O than the creek!

I was mortified!
And worried about
Dad's wrath and punishment.

But once the leak was under control,
I only got a firm scolding
and I even got to enjoy a bowl of berries
before the day was over.

Dad put metal legs on the sink
for extra safety
and for years they remained
a reminder
of me and Mom...
and the blackberries of summer.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The 4th Of July

It seems like only yesterday
that my brothers and sisters and I
scrambled to the top of the shed roof
for the best view of the fireworks.

The local country club
used to put on the
greatest show in town.
(Well, okay-
the only show in town).

Our hot, sticky bodies
took foothold in the honeysuckle vines
and lifted our way to the
warm asphalt shingles
and a view of the open sky.

How lucky we were
to live in the country!

We were no strangers to
fireflies, mosquitoes,
chiggers and ticks.

But, yet, we were blessed
with colorful sunsets,
fresh wild blackberries,
cornfields of dreams
and skies of perfect clouds.

I could almost bet
that we were more well behaved
on that shed roof
than we were in church.

Excitement ran through our veins.
We could not help but snuggle
and bond
as we waited impatiently
for that first pop of color
to light up the night.

We oooohhhed and ahhhed
and giggled
and applauded.
We tried to guess how high
the next explosion would be-
or what color-
or shape.

That fifteen minutes or so
of fireworks
lived in our minds for days.

And still lives in our memories
after all these years.

Even now-
when I hear a crackle-
or a pop-
and see that first streak of light
cut through the darkness
like a rainbow meteor,
I get excited.

And suddenly,
I am there again.
Up on the shed roof
watching the greatest show in town.

Have a safe and happy 4th!!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Uneeded Things

I was cleaning out my kitchen drawers
the other day-
(I know, what are the chances of
that happening twice in one century?)
but, anyways- I came across
an oyster knife.

Well, I don't know if you all
are familiar with
the great state of Illinois,
but we don't do much fresh seafood here.
Long John Silver's or
McDonald's fish sandwich
is about as close as we come
to eating anything from ocean water.

This got me to thinking about
a list of household gadgets
that I can live without.
Here goes:

Seldom used on crustacean shells.
Although it sometimes comes
in handy to pry open stubborn lids,
sticky drawers,
and dried gum under the patio set.

Why? Who cares if their melon is
perfectly round?
In my family, we eat it right from
the rind with a super big spoon.

Just another fancy word for coffee.
Give me my coffee from a regular
coffee pot- hot, black,
and semi-strong. Leave those
cappuccino makers to the
CEO's of Starbucks.

I seldom use this item.
I used it about six months ago
to steam open a letter that
I had no business reading.
I do not iron.
(Unlike my sister Tina-
whose right hand is an iron!)

Get real!
Who in their right mind
is going to cook only five Bagel Bites
or six pizza rolls at a time?
These contraptions are
made for Barbie dolls.

When was the last time
I baked bread?
You guessed it.

Now, I must admit I do have
two of these and they are new.
Linda got us HIS and HERS
for Christmas.
I use mine to suck snot from
the dog's nose
and he uses his to empty
water from the toilet tank
when repairs are needed.
Don't worry-
my Thanksgiving bird
is always self-basting!

Two words.
Eyeball it.

Oh, there's probably a lot
more that I could add to the list,
but I don't have time right now...
I've gotta find my stainless steel

The grand kids are here
and we're catching tadpoles.