November 2008


Chicklet, Grandpa M, Grandma D, Chic

May 2008, L-R: Chicklet, Grandpa M, Grandma D, Chic

In the post about Chic’s birthday, I warned you that we are in a string of family events that I feel the need to commerorate  with a post. This one is the third of five that happen in a ten-day span. Just a little crazy here!

Grandma D is my father’s wife. My mother died nearly two years ago, and my father remarried about nine months later to “D.” 

Probably similar to most families, my family is about half “good” and half “bad.” Possibly not similar to most families (but I know definitely similar to some), the “bad” ones are REALLY bad. Most of my life I have tried to ignore them; it is just easier that way. But sometimes they will not be ignored. Those family members were not terribly appreciative of my father getting married again. The things they have said about him and his wife (who they know nothing about) are hair-raising. They have made it much easier for me to ignore them without guilt.

My opinion of my father’s marriage “so soon” after my mother’s death was good. I did not know his new wife, but I knew of her. My mother’s decline lasted 10 years. She did not even speak for the last seven years. She needed full-time care for the ten years, and that was always in my father’s home. My take on it was that he had basically been without a wife for ten years, so what was wrong with him finding a little happiness? He was ony 65, and I was grateful he managed to make it nine months before getting married. He married my mother three months after they met. I was expecting something similar.

I had a small amount of concern about the character of “D,” but after I met her, that was washed away. She is a wonderful woman and could not be better for my dad.

When you read this, I will be out of town, and Grandma D is in the hospital. (I’m not out of town visiting her, however.) She had some kind of surgery a couple of weeks ago. There was a tube of some sort in her, and it was not done properly. It leaked, and she became septic. She worsened and worsened until she was put on life support to try to allow her to heal.  She was intubated for about a week, but yesterday they removed the ventilator. She is on the mend, but being that sick and in the hospital is not the ideal way to spend one’s 70th birthday, which is tomorrow.

So why do I love Grandma D? There are lots of reasons, but I will just tell you a few.

-She is a wonderful grandmother to my children. Prince Charming’s mom passed away when Chic was 4 months old. My mother was already in her decline when I met Prince Charming. My daughters had never had a real grandmother in their life until Grandma D came along. (They had also not had much grandfather activity because Prince Charming’s dad lived far away and lived in bereavement after his wife’s death until he passed away two years ago, and my father was consumed with taking care of my mother, so he was also preoccupied.) Grandma D treats my children as if they are her very own, much-loved, biological grandchildren. I realize biology has nothing to do with it (I have biological family who are horrible), but she shows no partiality between her own grandchildren and my children. She is thoughtful and sends them things and treats them like royalty when we are together.

-She treats me like a daughter. I do not call her “Mom,” nor will I likely ever do that. And she is NOT my mom, but she is kind and loving to me.

-She is a jewel to my dad. She truly loves my dad and is a wonderful wife to him. She takes care of him (which he needs) and does it with a smile.

-Although she moved into my dad’s house, she did not turn it upside-down. Nearly 1-1/2 years after their marriage, she is starting to make the house a little more personal, but she is careful about what she does with things. Every time I visit, she tells me it is MY house, and if there is anything I want, to please take it. I don’t even have to take things away. The house is big, and I can store things there until I am ready to take them to my house. But I love the fact that she did not sell everything right away and is respectful of my mother’s things.

-She is also respectful of the relationship I had with my mother. She never knew my mother, but as the “second wife” with a ghost hanging in the background from time-to-time COULD be unpleasant, but she is not.

-Grandma D is a joy to have in our lives. We are grateful for her and the love she brings to our family. We wish you a speedy recovery, Grandma D!

 

Note: Grandma D does not read my blog. Almost no one in my family does, so she will not see this, but I still want to give her honor and credit for who she is. Oh that more people in the world had her kindness and sensibilities.

 

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

This picture was not taken today, or even in this state, but the sky looks almost the same as it does today here.

The picture was taken in June in Missouri from my dad’s house. They had 11 Canadian geese that flew over every morning and evening while I was visiting last spring. I found them at a nearby pond one day during the day, but I do not know where they were most of the time.

I did not have any turkey pictures with sky in them, so I thought that geese would have to due to Thanksgiving.

If you are in the United States, I hope you are having a relaxed and festive day, and that you eat exactly the right amount to make you happy!

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

babychic

You have not seen posting of this frequency from me since summer, and even then, maybe only once. Well, it is not over! Today is Installment Number 2 in a string of family events about which I am planning to post.  The first was here. And Chic was born three days after my mom’s 60th birthday.

This year Chic’s birthday is on Thanksgiving, but as mentioned before, I am in the habit of posting a day early. She had her school “party” yesterday. There was only a half-day of school, so it was perfect for a birthday celebration; it was already festive. Here are the treats Prince Charming and I made. I was supposed to make all of them, but I have been busy, and I was gone Monday night, so he did most of the cupcake decorating. (The cupcakes are “teepees” and the bags have caramel-apple snack mix in them.)

2008-1125teepees

2008-1125snackmix

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Chic will be seven tomorrow, and I cannot let this pass without making a post just about her…

Chic arrived in the world about six months before the family (Prince Charming and Louise) plan. Prince Charming did not know that I had changed the plan, but I knew we would probably be moving very soon after Chic’s arrival if Plan A were kept in place. Most of my life had been spent in southwest  Missouri. Even in the times I did not live there (mostly due to going to school), that was still my home.  People knew me. People loved me. People were DYING for me to have children.  Let us just say that naive Prince Charming thought life was really, really wonderul approximately nine months before Chic was born. But when he found out about her early arrival, he thought life was even more wonderful. (And also that he was pretty stupid.) PC really, REALLY wanted children. I was a bit ambivalent about it. I knew I would love them if I had them, but I also knew I would be fine if I never did. The surprise for him was a good one.

Prince Charming and I tried to keep much about Chic secret–the fact that she was even coming, the fact that she was a “her,” etc. But some of my family did not make that easy. The one thing we kept a secret was her name–which is going to remain a secret to most of you! But I WILL tell you that we had her name picked before she ever came into being, and it is Irish. It is definitely not the strangest Irish name out there to English ears, but almost no one in our world can say it when they see the spelling, or spell it when they hear it pronounced. But the reason to tell you about this name is that Chic was so accommodating about it when she arrived with red hair. Not sort-of red hair, but flame red hair. This was not an enormous surprise because there is red hair in both families, but Prince Charming and I both have dark hair, so it was a nice, little surprise.

Since Chic’s arrival, my life has changed, of course. But it is all good. She is a sparkling jewel in my life, just as her red hair sparkles in the sun. She is sensitive to others, smart (REALLY smart), kind, thoughtful, and all-around good. She has a beautiful smile and is not shy about letting everyone see it. She is full of life and happy. (Most of the time. I see moodiness in her at times, and it makes me fear for the teenage years.) She is responsible. She is fast and strong. She is a little shy, but not self-conscious.

I never expected to have a girl (and I have two). But I really wanted a girl, so when I learned Chic would be coming, I was so excited. I was a little worried about Prince Charming who was the oldest son of the oldest son, etc. But he loves having girls.

People say Chic looks like me in the face. That is harder for me to see because I see us both so much. But she has her dad’s body. I am hoping it will remain feminine as she ages (she is already wondering why her legs are not “skinny” like other girls who have what seem like “bird legs” to an athletically-built family), but her genes have given her the ability to run like lightning without tiring and jump high and far. She is not always the most graceful, but that is improving as she grows.

2008-11-14chicrunning

Almost everything she does, she does well. But this is also a problem for her. If she tries something once, and does not excel at it, she does not want to continue trying. Unfortunately, this is genetic, too, but Prince Charming and I work very hard with her to make her understand that not every single thing in life is easy the first time we try. So far in her life, this is the biggest challenge we face with her. (Check back with me in 6 or 7 years, and I am sure that will seem like nothing!)

Some of the reasons she is extra special to me are:

-She is happy almost all of the time.

-She has red hair!

-She is diligent and responsible.

-She is thoughtful and kind. (Most of the time! She’s only seven tomorrow!)

-She learns easily.

-She is helpful, both to her family and others she sees anywhere.

-She has an open and generous heart.

-She is full of life.

Happy Birthday, Chic! You are getting a big party this year! (Thanksgiving.)

2008-11-23box

I got a wonderful package in the mail this week. WONDERFUL!  It was from Smalltown Mom. I won a giveaway she had. (I actually think I did not intentionally sign up for it, but I’m so glad I won!) I have to tell you that I never win anything, but I have been blogging less than six months and have already won TWO things! I know that is a bad average for some of you, but in the span of my life, it is incredible.

So when I won, Smalltown Mom asked me which kind of candy I wanted. Neither of my choices had ever been in my mouth before, but one was seasonal truffles, and I am a bit of an addict to seasonal truffles of another brand, so I went for that. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT MORE STUFF WAS COMING, TOO!

Prince Charming brought in the box, which I photographed from about 15 feet away because of my only working camera lens only working in the 200 mm position. The photos are not terrific, but you get the idea.

2008-11-23stuff

I still have an ugly cough, so I am going to have to wait on the truffles a while longer (sugar always upsets the cough), but those socks are going on my feet tonight (thank goodness I get to stay home and be cozy tonight!), and that lotion is going to get initiated on bath night.  I can’t decide if I Prince Charming will make the muffins for Thanksgiving breakfast, or if we will have them on a weekend. No matter. Except for the truffles, all of this stuff was locally produced in her area.

Oh, I still have  yet to tell you why I read Smalltown Mom’s blog! It is because she is funny and REAL. Her posts are not always meant to be funny, but she sees humor in most situations. She has two boys that she loves like crazy, and I know a lot about their goings on from her blog. And I am going to say that being female and having dated my share of “Mama’s boys” in my life, that I think she is doing a great job raising her boys, and they are well-grounded and are not going to drive their dates crazy with their mom connection, even though it is strong. It is strong only in the best way. I love the relationship she has with her sons. 

Thank you Smalltown Mom! I love my stuff,  I love reading your blog and I love your kind heart!

Now for the awards…

First, I’m SO far behind on this. I’m so far behind that I am ashamed to admit how long ago I got this award cannot even do all of the awards at once, or you would be overwhelmed and not even think of looking at the blogs to which I am passing these. I was going to do two at a time for a while, but today I only have time for one.

arte_y_piconourishthesoul

It is the Art Y Pico Award, and I got it from Nourish the Soul. Deb is on a little hiatus right now after having finished being a parent in three weddings (one of them in a foreign country) in the past year. She said she had some projects she needed to catch up on. Ummmm… WHO WOULDN’T?  Anyway, she is a wonderful person and an interesting writer. I was introduced to her about the time she was headed to rehearsal dinner for wedding #2, but had forgotten her clothes. She is quite industrious and inventive. Her posts are timeless, so you can still check her out.

This award is for creativity, design, interesting comment or for contributing to the blogging community. I am honored to receive this award from Deb.

Now before I pass these on, let’s have a refresher on Louise’s Award Rules:

1) There are no rules.

That about covers it. But it means that I am not going to tell people they got the awards. If they are my readers, they’ll figure it out, but my reason for passing them on is so that I can tell everyone whos reads this about some blogs I really like to visit. If you receive an award from me you may or may not acknowledge it. You may or may not post about it. You may or may not pass it on. It’s up to you.

So here is where this award goes, and I hope you will check out these blogs if you are not already familiar with them:

In a Soft Light. Beautiful photography of nature. Beautiful. It is always peaceful to go to this blog.

Ivar Irvig. Stunning photos. He lives in Norway and is apparently outside all the time taking pictures. Probably not, but he has an abundance of amazing shots.

Murrieta 365. More photography. Jan knows her way around a camera and photographs lots of interesting things. Her eye is artistic.

 Where the Walls are Soft. Les can tell a story. She manages to have a lot of stories about other people, too. She has an excellent way of getting it all into poignant and humorous words. For some technical reason which I am unqualified to identify I have not been able to leave a comment there for AGES, so if you go check her out and see the meme, tell her that I am SO with her on #43! I used to have a “Wayne Wall” in my high school dorm room!

UStamp4Fun. I know Amy in real life. That would lead one to think she would not be getting this award! I really do not think I know a stamper who can stamp any better. Really. I love Amy’s designs, but her real talent is taking ANYTHING (someone else’s (like my) bad design or her own spectacular design) and stamping it so well that it doesn’t look like human hands could have done it. She’s that good. And because I know her in real life, I will say that she makes me laugh. She’s all East Coast. She does not mince words. And she’s a redhead. We know I am partial to red hair on women.

Stay tuned. More awards coming to this space in the near future. (But not tomorrow or the next day!)

 

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

This is not something terribly exciting about where I live, but I am having severe camera issues at the moment and could not go take new pictures and did not have archives I wanted to use. And I realized that I was 31-years-old before I ever saw lawns that had no grass but were all rocks. (That was in Las Vegas.) So I thought it might be appropriate to show you my “lawn” which looks pretty much like most of the other lawns on the street. IF lawns in this area have grass, it is a few square yards–smaller than a putting green on a golf course. (It takes 10 minutes for us to mow our back yard grass with an electric, 20″ mower.)

We get approximately 8 inches of rain annually. That means if anything is going to grow, it has to be watered. It also means that if we are not careful with the water, we will eventually run out of it. Thus the rocks for lawns. I actually like it because it forces some creative landscaping. Where I used to live the landscaping technique was to throw out some grass seed, plant 3 or 4 bushes and be done with it.  It is expensive, but we have lots of beautiful plants in our yard, both front and back. (Better viewed in the summer for the “beautiful” factor.)

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Most of the plants can survive quite a long time without water. (I know this because the front is not automatically watered, and I forget to water it most of the time.)

One might think the rocks mean less maintenance than grass… no mowing, no fertilizing, etc. Maybe that is a little true, but weeds still grow in them. In the summer it is a constant battle to keep the tumbleweed sprouts from looking like grass. Also in the fall when the plants lose their foliage, it is a bit tricky to get the leaves out of the rocks. The easiest way is with a leaf vacuum so that rocks are not vacuumed, too, but there is no extremely easy method.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

 

For my regular readers: The “severe camera issues” are that my OTHER lens is broken. You might remember than the 18-55 mm was broken and I was trying to decide how to replace it. Well, last week the 55-200 mm lens got bumped (EVER SO SLIGHTLY) and started not zooming. It only works at 200 mm, which isn’t the best place for taking most photos. This is the third lens mishap in about 8 months, and being without ANY lens, the decision was made for me to get an 18-200 mm. It should arrive today. It was not my first choice, but it was the most economical way to replace two lenses at one time. I bought a Sigma which is supposed to be sturdier than the brand name ones I have been using. We hope! I want DIFFERENT lenses, not to spend all my money replacing the same ones!

Mom & Me, 1986

Mom & Me, 1986

My mom’s 67th birthday would have been tomorrow. But tomorrow is My World “Tuesday.” And since I post for the memes I do a day ahead (for me), I thought I would just honor her birthday a day ahead as well.

When my mom was 63, her caretaker decided to throw a big birthday party for her which included people writing things about their memories of her. I lived far away, but I made a scrapbook page to send. 200811-23motherdautherscrapbookpagecropped

The top picture is from 1986. (I was 21; My mom was 45.) My mom and I are wearing sweaters I knitted. It was my first big knitting project, and I wanted to make one for her to match mine. My mom was always too hot, so I modified the pattern to make a vest. (I was impressed with myself.)

The bottom picture is when Chic is about 5 months old. It is Mother’s  Day. My mother was in her 5th year of downward decline at this point. She no longer spoke, but she understood everything. She loved Chic. She would hold her for hours (and Chic would let her). My parents babysat one day a week for the first nine months of Chic’s life when we lived near them.

The bottom picture is covering an envelope. Inside an envelope is a list of things I remembered about my mother. There are so many more, but this covers a lot of highlights:

Things I remember about you…
-Waking me up every morning until I went away to school (at 15) by saying, “Good Morning Little Girl; Rise and Shine!”
-Your saying every evening, “You can set the table,” as if it were some grand privilege.
-Periodically finding a treat in my room after school.  (My favorites were “Now and Laters.”)
-Trips with just the two of us to Eureka Springs or other small towns around for shopping.
-Damming up creeks.
-Visiting you at work at the nursing home when I was very little.
-The care packages you sent when I was in academy and college.  (Did you know I never shared the things you sent?)
-That you sent me cards at least once a week in academy and college. They were usually funny, and you only signed your name; you rarely wrote a message. Sometimes you would include the baseball standings or a cartoon from the newspaper.
-Days spent in antique stores.
-That you celebrated my 30th birthday for an entire week.
-That when I got home from Iceland you gave me a gift a day for a month to make up for all the time I had been gone.
-You watering your flowers and plants—indoors and out—and keeping them beautiful all the time.
-The whole summer you wouldn’t speak to me because of the phone bill.
-Spinach casserole.
-Poppy Seed Bread and Banana Bread at Christmas.
-Cranberry tea when guests came to our house for holiday dinners.
-The Peugeot.
-The Minivans.
-The summer I turned 18, I came home from academy to find you had enrolled me in a nurses’ aide course and expected me to find a job in a nursing home for the summer. (Which I did for two summers.)
-How you never gave endless lectures on my behavior and choices that did not please you, but I still knew your expectations and when I was not living up to them.
-Always going somewhere with you to take care of elderly people.
-That you would never let me have long hair when I was little.
-Your lack of interest in cooking and other things domestic. Yet when I wanted to learn to sew, you helped me make a simple dress.
-Your “watch thing.”  I remember being in New York with Daddy where we bought the amethyst one for you.
-Alf.
-Your sense of humor and mischievousness.

In this post, I promised a brilliant sunset with the volcanoes being the foreground subject.

Last Friday night (the day after the “Everything is Pink” sunrise), I knew we were going to have a wonderful sunset. Why? Well, actually most sunsets here are wonderful. But I actually knew it was going to be spectacular because Friday morning we had a near repeat of the “Everything is Pink” sky, and the night before, the sunset was fabulous. (While I was driving across town to stamp–without camera because I was late.) So I decided to drive somewhere to watch it. Chic wanted to go (I love this about my children), so we went to a place with a view of the volcanoes.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

We were not disappointed. Chic spent the next 45 minutes mostly racing around in the open desert, but not missing the magnificent display of nature. I mostly sat in my warm car with the window down to get pictures.

It was difficult to decide what picture to use; I was shooting for 45 minutes. In the end I picked two that are from close to the same time–just different views. I try to not put up too much stuff on SkyWatch Friday because there are so many to visit, but I just had to do two. There are lots more from this shoot that are “worthy,” so you may see some eventually when we have more of our “same skies every day.”

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Whenever I post photos of my brilliant skies, I get questions about editing my photos. First, I rarely edit anything other than cropping and resizing. But what little editing capabilities I have with my software absolultely do NOT enhance sunrises and sunsets; these are all straight from the camera. Happy SkyWatch!

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

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