Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Was a Blast! (And We Survived)

Our 2012 may be remembered as the year of the Great Turkey Fire. While at our son Andy's house for Thanksgiving, the oven caught fire from the drippings that ignited after Zack opened the door and let in enough oxygen to encourage the blaze. The heroic rescue efforts of my husband, Bob, saved everyone's life but the turkey's, and quick-witted Michael snapped this breaking action photo.
One of the gratitude items listed around the dinner table after the drama was, "I'm thankful for baking soda." 
As we ate, I heard one of my grandchildren ask, "What do you think the turkey's name was?" After some names like "Sam" and "George" were batted around, the question arose, "What if it was a girl? I'll bet her name was Susan."
If that is the case, then thank you, Susan the turkey, for providing us with sustenance. And thank you, Bob, for putting out the fire. And thanks to Andy and Heidi for putting us up (or putting up with us) and thanks to everyone who lets me overhear their most interesting comments or leaves behind intriguing items that spark ideas for me to write about.
Bring on the new year, I'm ready for it, because I've been practicing writing "2013" for weeks.
What's your best plan for 2013?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Everywhere!

Regardless of your religious background, the Christmas season is full of joy and giving and love. It's also full of food. Food is good. And it's good to find funny pieces of food, like this macaroni that's shaped like a cane. (It's supposed to be shaped like an elbow, but this particular piece was so moved by the holiday spirit that it made a concerted effort to become festive.)
We like you, little candy cane noodle. You make us smile.
Merry Christmas, everyone.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Love and Courage and Strength, a True Story

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~ Lao Tzu
Bob's father, who's lived a unique life, turned 89 in October. His best present was that he was finally getting around on a newly healed ankle, broken last spring when he tripped over a board on the footbridge in his backyard. An annoying infection sent him back to the hospital to have the plates and screws removed from his bones.
In spite of patient care from Grandma B, heroic assistance from his daughter Lucy, devoted attention from his son John and various grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Grandpa got to a point where he hadn't eaten for 4 days and was unable to swallow even liquids. Hydrated through IV lines, he lost 30 pounds. It looked like the beginning of the end when he stated in no uncertain terms that he didn't want any heroic measures taken to prolong his life.
The trouble is, he forgot that his family is made of heroes.
Determined to see Grandpa one last time, my six sons and husband converged on his hospital room all on the same day. Their combined love blasted Grandpa, building on the love already delivered by other family members. Grandpa told stories and laughed until he cried. He ate four bites of food. After hugs and goodbyes, my boys went out to eat, having way too good of a time at the restaurant. (See photo above.)
The next morning, my two oldest sons went for a final visit before making their long drive home. They found Grandpa sitting up and drinking through a straw. Instead of being on the brink of death, he was on the brink of returning home.
I have to believe that the deep love poured out to Grandpa from all his family gave him strength to continue living with us on earth for awhile.
Don't ever underestimate the power of love!

Monday, December 17, 2012

A good day for smiling

Here's my sassy sister Rebecca with a cool fashion tip for you: when you wear glamorous scarf like she does (she pulls it off so well, don't you think?) then PIN the scarf to your shirt so it doesn't flop around like an octopus tentacle when you're trying to get some work done. Look how classy! (Rebecca is a classy lady.)
It's fun to smile when your sister Loraine (in the green) makes you laugh. Of course she would do it on a day when I (in red) was without my waterproof mascara on! (Now that's funny!)
But the best reason of all to smile today is because it's my son Zack's birthday. I don't care how big he gets, he'll always be my boy. 
What is it that makes you smile today? If you haven't smiled yet, go out and do a smiley thing, then come back and tell us what you did. Happy people want to know, and sad people need to know!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Oh, for a pillow in a crowded house!

          Do you have extended family gatherings? If your family consists of fewer than four people, you may not get this, but if your extended family won't all fit on a mini bus, then you'll relate to this picture. (I've got 46 cousins - we won't count their children here - plus my mom, seven siblings, their spouses, 38 nieces and nephews - I'm a great aunt, too... again, no counting them now, but they're out there, the little dears! - my own six sons, two darling daughters-in-law and seven outstanding grandchildren.) I don't claim the largest clan ever. I know lots of people who rent huge buildings for their extended family get-togethers, but my family's big enough to make me happy.
          When we visited my oldest son, Andy, we had enough extra people to break out a card table for the kids to eat on. After a particularly long day, we settled down to watch a movie. As one of the kid-table crowd, my youngest son, Michael, was relegated to the floor. Without enough pillows to go around, he found another solution.
(He's sleeping on an orange balloon.) Hey, there are water beds, so why not air pillows? When his big brother, Zack, pulled out a knife to pop the balloon from under Michael's head, I was close enough to put a stop to it. Zack said he wouldn't really have done it. (Do you believe that?)
Cowboys sleep on saddles, my mom used to nap on piles of clean laundry, so now I have to wonder... what's the strangest thing you've ever slept on? 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Vegas Lights

When I was in Las Vegas last weekend to visit family, I went to a show to catch some free necklaces. I shouldn't have been surprised that the casino gave me a smoke headache, which wasn't really worth the price of a few shiny plastic beads, but my grandchildren loved the jewelry. I showed them pictures of the ship and balloon that ran along ceiling tracks for dancers to throw necklaces down, and ended up leaving all the necklaces at the grandchildren's house, because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, don't you know? 
Michael saw a military guy who was pretty impressive as an animated statue. Michael dropped a dollar into the guy's rucksack so I could take a picture, and the soldier gave him a sucker.
(That's a bonus pix of Bob in the background below.)
Did you ever think a person could fit inside a chandelier? We found a giant chandelier at a casino. It was three stories tall with a bar inside it!
(We skipped the bar, but I sure liked the shiny crystals!)
Not all places in Las Vegas are made for tall people.
The best place not to bump your head is outside.
I've wanted to go to Europe for a long time, so it was fun to find a scaled-down Eiffel Tower to tide me over until I can actually cross the ocean.
All kinds of story ideas flow through the streets of Vegas, but they won't stay there. They'll show up in books I write.
The best part about Vegas was the Bahlmann family who lives there. Here are half of them.
What's your best vacation place?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happy 87th Birthday Momma Ru

Loraine, Shirley, Mom, and Carolyn. We're not in alphabetical order. Mom is the only one sitting up straight. What was in our drinks again?