Friday, June 29, 2007

Oh! My Aching Back and Other Things

I have not been very present in the 'verse this week so I thought I'd take a little time to explain.

First, thanks to everyone who left such supportive comments to my last post. The Community of Survivors of Dysfunctional Families served me well this week. It is nice to know you are out there, although a little sad that there are so many of us. Lest anyone think that a little family histrionics would keep me from posting and commenting, I thought I'd explain a little about what is going on at Chez Mary-LUE.

This week has been our church's annual vacation Bible school. Now, for those of you who may have attended VBS when you were a child, you may not be aware of how things work now. VBS is a Major Production. There are sets, casts, costumes, props. You name it. Crafts, snacks and memory verses are still a vital part of the modern VBS experience, but there is just so much more. Whether that "more" is for better or for worse is best left to individual preference.

Our church's program is also different in two other ways: 1) We have it at night. With so many families having two parents who work out of the home, our attendance and volunteer base is actually better this way. 2) Our VBS extravaganza is "family" oriented. Isn't every vacation Bible school family-oriented? Yes, but usually they are more child-centric. Adults plan and lead the program, but the kids get checked in around 9 a.m. and checked out, crumby-faced, craft in hand, around noon. For our program, the parents are invited and their presence preferred. Instead of being in groups sorted by age and led by a volunteer, you make the rounds to the craft, snack, games areas with your family. Kids whose parents cannot join them are adopted by other families.

I am of two different minds about this specific facet of our program.

I love it.
It is a great idea. The worship team consists of parents and children. You know exactly what your kids are learning and are given tools for discussion and application. Marley loves that we are there.

I hate it.
FAM JAM (Families and Me, Jesus and Me) always coincides with swim lessons. For four days, we take Marley to swim lessons around 4:30 pm.

The best part of swim lessons, as far as Marley is concerned.
That does look like fun, doesn't it?

Afterwards, we get her cleaned up and dressed, take her to dinner with our other swim lesson/FAM JAM-attending friends, then head over to church at 6:15. There, we, the g'rups, are expected to join the kiddie mosh pit for worship, eat snacks and play games which involve water balloons, bare feet and scavenger hunts. (I am Rebellious, Loner Mom. I follow around dutifully, help Marley with crafts, etc., but avoid at all costs the games and usually avoid the mosh-ip pit.) Usually, Paul is helping out with sound and in the days previous, I am providing some sort of prep cutting out labor or providing a pre-FAM JAM meal for the volunteers one night. (This year, I did none of those things. Bad Mary! Actually, I was just not up for it. I'm usually quite happy to contribute.) By Friday night, we are all pooped and I am filled with fond remembrances of VBS drop offs and pick ups of yesteryear.

One of last year's messy games which I successfully avoided.

So, we've been busy in the afternoon/evenings and recovering during the days. Also, we have a friend's son come out to stay for two days and one night so he could join us for Treasure Quest, FAM JAM 2007! Unfortunately, this all coincided with some back pain. A few years ago, Paul and I paid for the hardwood floors in our living/dining room to be refinished in the rental we live in. The man who we hired was the Methuselah of floor refinishers. He had a young man who helped him, but every time he bent over he made this unearthly groaning noise and I was greatly afeared he would not be able to get up.

I feel like that man this week.

After going too long between adjustments and working out pretty hard for a few weeks, I had a chiropractor visit on Monday. I think my muscles and bones are in confusion about who exactly is in charge. It hurts. An almost constant ache with periods of sharper pain. I'm ibuprofen-ing, stretching, heat pad-ding. It just is taking its sweet time to feel better. This is not my usual, post-cracking bliss.

That is the main reason I've been more absent from the blog'verse. I've been reading and commenting here and there, but there is more I would have said and written if not for what I just described above. Also, my kids are around all the time and I like to blog alone. (Is that a bad sign? Isn't that the first question on any "Are you a ______aholic?" questionnaire?)

And, AND!. . . I've got the bulk of two books to read by Monday and Tuesday for the two book clubs I am in. Woman, thou art delusional!

Well, that is what is going on at Chez Mary-LUE. How about you guys? What's new with you?

Oh! Oh! Oh! I almost forgot. There's a new Scenic View in my sidebar. One of my most favoritest authors in the 'verse is Cyn Kitchen. She describes motherhood in a way that makes you laugh, cry and shake your head in recognition. Amazing stuff. Lately, she's been sharing with us her publishing successes. So, if you want to check out her recent contribution to, here it is: You Made It, Whatever It Is. I dare you not to like it. Double dog dare.

Good night. . .

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: It's a Family Affair

It isn't often that my week's consolation and desolation are truly opposite sides of the same coin. Oh, sometimes, when I am baking my weekly bread, I can choose to emphasize one aspect of life over another to make my posts more symmetrical, but this week... this week, I was both cheered and disheartened by Family.

The cheering was simple enough. My kids plus a pool equal joy.

They both love swimming.
They get along while they are swimming.
I love watching them swim.

Their prowess in the water fills me with awe and pride because it is something I never had. I am glad that we've given them swim lessons and found opportunities for them to enjoy the water. Swimming strengthens their bodies and, I think, their self-confidence. It's all good and this week, we began swim lessons for Marley and bought our pool pass for the university pool.

All my associations with the pool are good and so far, I've yet to be disappointed.

I wish I could say the same about certain interactions with my family, the one I grew up in. I don't know how to write about this so that it makes sense. To try to explain the specifics doesn't seem appropriate. Would sharing the details of this one incident make sense when it is truly just one strand in a Gordian knot of history, personality, trauma and drama? History, personality, trauma and drama that I am not just a victim of, but a contributor to. So, something happened this week that made me angry and hurt me, hurt my son and made him very angry. I knew it was going to happen. I predicted it. But I also hoped I was wrong. I erred on the side of second chances. And I'm left to wonder again, when will I stop hoping and should I stop hoping. I just don't know.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Odds and Ends

In my sidebar, you might notice a new "Scenic View." Jozet over at Halushki is one of the best writers I've seen in the blogosphere. Oops! I just used one of the most hated internet words.) She isn't posting too frequently right now and her Life with Three Children post explains exactly why. I think if you head over there, you won't regret it.


I went to the book store today to buy a present for my sister-in-law's birthday. One of her presents is this:

I've been wanting one of these myself for a very, very long time. It gives me the giggles for some reason--probably because of Spinal Tap, I know. I know.


I also purchased a small 18 month planner. The first month is July which is when I will register for my first grad school classes! Yippee and Omigosh, what have I done! Both feelings apply.


I received a letter from one of the children whom we sponsor through Christian Children's Fund. His name is Saitoti and we've sponsored him for over five years. I haven't written him once! At least I don't remember writing him. I am such a bad, bad sponsor. I do send extra money at Christmas and on his birthday but it does make me cringe when I read this:

Rather than that the beans I am depending on have been eaten by wild animals e.g. elephants. Thank you so much. May almighty God bless you and add you more. Moreover my dearly sponsor please write a letter to me. It is actually a long time since you write to me--even one I would like to reads from you.

I feel about this big.


This is what I read today that made me laugh out loud:

Mr. Pewter led them through to a library, filled with thousands of antiquarian books.
"Impressive, eh?"
"Very," said Jack. "How did you amass all these?"
"Well," said Pewter, "you know the person who always borrows books and never gives them back?"
"Yes. . . ?"
"I'm that person."

from The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime by Jasper Fforde


Oops! I almost forgot. The Great Gardening Experiment of 2007 is being photo-chronicled over at So-So Cal Cinema, my family blog.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Memoria: The Final Posts

I know I already posted once today but I am feeling a little antsy and these are the last of the Memoria posts.

Originally posted on April 7, 2006

Uncle L.T. - 1971

This is my Uncle L.T. and his first wife, Paula. It is an old Polaroid I scanned. I think it looks pretty good considering that. On the back, there is a date stamped August 21, 1971. I don't know if that is accurate, but it seems likely. They would have been around 19 years old. I'm not sure if this is before or after he went on his tour of duty but imagine this baby-faced young man experiencing the things I shared in the post "Why I am Writing, cont."


Originally published on April 18, 2007

Aunt Margaret

I dreamt of Aunt Margaret the other night. I woke up feeling like she has been neglected in this blog. Now, she hasn't really been neglected; I just haven't made it to her yet in these posts. But, because I dreamed about her, I thought I'd at least mention her briefly. Her name was Margaret Louise. She was the fourth of five children and the youngest daughter born to Tommie Lou and Loyd Hoke Reddick. She was my sometimes babysitter, a wonderful aunt (she was my steady supplier of Nancy Drew books for many years) and, when I was older, a dear friend.

Here is a picture I recently scanned of my mom's family:

Goodbye dinner for Uncle LT

My mom is in the back--the tall redhead. Next to her is my Uncle Jimmy, then my Grandma, my Grandpa and my Aunt Lea. Kneeling in the front row is Aunt Margaret and Uncle L.T. The adorable blonde in the tire swing is yours truly.

This picture was taken in the summer. It was a last minute get together before my uncle left for the army (or Vietnam.) I remember it was last minute because my aunt was babysitting us. My aunt received a phone call and suddenly she was getting my sister, cousins and I cleaned up. That outfit I'm wearing belonged to my cousin, Candace.

Aunt Margaret was funny, faithful, full of energy, fierce in her beliefs and a good friend to all. At the time she died, I was having in rough time dealing with a stressful situation that had lasted several months. I was also considering leaving my job. I wasn't able to visit her regularly that last year and after she died, I quit my job and shortly after found out I was pregnant. All that, as I look back on it, seemed to get in the way of my grieving her death. I would see women who reminded me of her in many places and for a moment, forget she was gone. I still catch myself thinking, "Aunt Margaret would think that was funny." or "I know what Aunt Margaret would think about that!"

She was something else and I can truly say I've never know anyone like her.


Originally published on June 26, 2007

Where Things Stand

Uncle L.T. and his daughter

About two years ago, my Uncle L.T. died. I recently came across something a former co-worker wrote about him. It is obvious that L.T. Reddick had a big impact on many people around him. I like knowing that there is a person, living on the other side of the country, who cared enough to write about him, who knew and recognized a lot of the same things I knew about him and recognized in him.

Two years later, I feel like I have mourned his death. Just this past January, I wouldn't have been able to say that. In fact, I began this blog in January of this year to have a place to talk about my grief and to share about those I've lost, beginning with Uncle L.T. Over the last six months, I've written a little over a half-dozen entries. After starting this blog, I began writing more on my family blog and soon after started one more blog for me to talk about whatever was on my mind. I noticed recently that that strong urge to write here was gone. . . at least for now.

Why tell you all this? Just to let you know why I'm not writing much and, if you'd like, where you can go to see what I am writing about. I'll keep this blog alive in case I need to "talk" more in the future. I never did write about my grandma or my brother. I wanted to write more about my aunt. Someday. Maybe.

Until then, may God bless you and keep you. May he make his sun shine upon you.


Originally published on October 1, 2006

An Unexpected Reminder

My daughter's class has periodic electives called mini-classes. There are usually 3 - 5 classes offered and they last five weeks long. Last year, in kindergarten, Marley wasn't able to participate. This year, however, she was very excited to sign up for one. She chose sign language.

After school one day this past week, I was catching up with one of her teacher's about a field trip. As the conversation continued, the teacher looked at Marley and asked her which mini-class she had signed up for. Marley told her and I was about to say that my Aunt Margaret knew sign language. I couldn't get the words out. As I started to say them they caught in my throat and tears welled up in my eyes.

I was so surprised by this. My Aunt Margaret died seven years ago. Although her death is one that I feel I grieved most inadequately, it seemed like I had come to terms with it in the last year. Maybe it was realizing that Marley never knew her--I found out I was pregnant just a few weeks after she died. I don't know. I just know that for a few moments the other day, the grief was awakened and I missed her so much.

This past Friday night in my small group from church, we ended up discussing the prayers of the saints. Can we pray to the departed and ask them to intercede to Christ on our behalf? Regardless of what the answer to that question is, I like to think of Aunt Margaret looking down and seeing her grandchildren and children and the rest of her family and friends. If she is able to intercede in prayer for us, I am glad--for she always had a definite opinion of what we should do and I know that her prayers would be enthusiastic!

Aunt Margaret, if you are reading this, I love you and miss you. You were a great influence on my life, a cherished aunt and a good friend.

A Pair of Ducks? No, a Paradox!

The Hump Day Hmmms are hosted by Julie, The Ravin' Picture Maven. It's a long story, but basically, she is posting a question on a Wednesday to be answered the following Wednesday on your own blog. The questions have so far been explorations in Justice and Forgiveness. She links up all the posts each week so that it is easier to click your way through all the deep thinking.

Reading this week's Hump Day Hmmm prompt, which was to consider the idea of "Accidents of Birth," my first thought was to consider things from a personal angle. But for the family I was born into, I might have been, dot, dot, dot. Two thoughts then occurred to me.

Thought One: All of my Hump Day Hmmm posts have been about me. All. About. Me. Blech. Ugh. I'm feeling more than a little narcissistic about it all.

Thought Two: Do I even believe in accidents of birth? Hmmm. . . And the answer? Yes. No. Both/And.

So now, the burden on my shoulders is to explain that; however, I don't know if I can. I tend to just "arrive" at certain conclusions like one of those cooks (the kind I am not) who can just throw in a pinch of this and a handful of that and come up with something delicious. Well, I'm actually more like the pot into which all the ingredients get thrown. After it all simmers for awhile, it is something good.

Let me tackle the "Accident of Birth? No" first. One day in high school, a friend of mine handed me a book called Illusions by Richard Bach. For those of you who are not familiar with it, it is the story of a messiah who quits. The story on its own it quite interesting. The problem is that the author believes most of what he is saying, that you are the director of your own life's film. If there is something you don't like in your life, it is because you put it there. There are lots of quotes like this: "Every person, all the events of your life, are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you." Now, this is similar to The Secret which has as its focus that you can make good things happen for yourself by believing in them enough. (My understanding of The Secret is quite sketchy and has been pieced together from what other people have said to me about it. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.) I think that The Secret might focus more on making positive things happen and Illusions is more open about believing that your life is your own creation, good or bad. If it is bad, there's a reason only you can know to explain it.

I completely disagree with that philosophy. (This also includes my differing with the Christianized version of "The Secret" which is sometimes referred to at the Prosperity Gospel or Word of Faith ministries. This version inserts your belief in Jesus, your really, really strong belief in Jesus as being the answer to your woes, material or otherwise.)

Next up? "Accident of Birth? Yes."

There are various belief systems which might hold that either there is no Creator or that while God may exist, it/he/she does not intervene in the natural order of things. Thus, whether you are born, where you are born and what circumstances you are born into is more of an accident of birth. Blame for who you are, where you are and how you are might be placed on human sociological structures or on other philosophical explanations.

If you have read this blog on any given Monday, you know I don't agree with that.

We are left with "Accident of Birth? Both/And." If I had a genie and three wishes, one of them right now would be absolute clarity of expression right now. But I don't have a genie. What should follow then is more fumbling and stumbling and I should just get to it.

I believe in God. The God. The God of Abraham. God the Father, who sent the Son. That Son. The "For God so loved the world he sent his only son that whoever believes in him" Son.

I believe that God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. (AoB: No)

I believe we have free will. (AofB: Yes)

Although I believe he knows the number of hairs on my head (AoB: No), I think I have choices to make. Choices every day which have an impact not only on me but on those around me. (AoB:Yes)

Although I believe he knew me in the womb and that throughout history, he has called specific people in specific places for specific purposes (AoB: No) , I don't think that is true of every person who is alive today or who has ever lived. (AoB: Yes)

Are you confused yet? I think I am. Are these beliefs of mine paradoxical? I think so. (AoB: Both/And)

The question remains, then, how this belief affects my view of the world and the inequities which exist in it--whether they be physical (disabilities) or material (geographic or socioeconomic, resources and privileges or lack thereof). The answer is simply that I don't know. I have my Weltenschauung (A tip of the hat to my dreaded Interpretations in Historical Studies professor.) and even within that, it is difficult to reconcile the disparities of Life. And, after some growing up, I've learned that I cannot thrust my beliefs upon someone else. I can't tell someone that their circumstances as an individual or that the circumstances of a whole group of people can be or should be dismissed by a simple "It's the Lord's will" or "God is in control." For myself, I try, feebly and with many lapses, to trust God that it will all work out for the best, that his perspective is greater and truer than mine. I try not to hold the circumstances of my life--the ones over which I had no control--against him. I try not to even linger too much on the "what ifs" of my life.

It all remains to be seen whether I am right or I am wrong.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: Joe Versus the Volcano Edition

In yesterday's Lazy Sunday post, I referenced the movie Joe Versus the Volcano. I googled "Joe Versus the Volcano quotes" since I had the movie on my mind and here is what I found:
"You mean you were diagnosed with something called a brain cloud and didn't ask for a second opinion?"
Isn't that a great quote? I love it. Of course, I don't know if the quote can be appreciated if you aren't familiar with the movie. There were a few other quotes from the movie which I liked so I thought I'd try to work them in to my SWB post today.
"So I'm not sick? Except for this terminal disease?"
The problem with my brain cloud is that I self-diagnosed. There are times when I just feel this thick fog that seems to disconnect the different parts of my brain. Yesterday was one of those times. The advantage of calling it a brain cloud is that I can pretend it is something just happening to me and not anything I can change of my own volition. There are choices, though, I made in the last few days which contributed to that feeling. After a couple of weeks of small appetite due to the sinus-infection-that-almost-was, I have spent the last few days eating too much junk (Out damned Cheez-its! Get thee away from me Ghiradelli 60% Cocoa bittersweet chocolate baking chips!) and lying around watching TV. I also missed church yesterday morning because I happened across the last hour of Watership Down, the best animated rabbit movie ever. I needed church yesterday, both the spiritual encouragement and the fellowship. Decisions like these lead me down the road to self-loathing, an emotion I face by engaging in more of the behavior which led me there to begin with, a cycle which is hard to break.

"Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG... thank you. Thank you for my life."

I had a little one-on-one with God last night, my usual "I screwed up today, help me do better tomorrow." This morning, Marley and I made a list of things to accomplish today. I made myself a cup of tea and ate a bowl of shredded wheat. The day is young, but I am determined to get rid of my brain cloud. I have a good life at my disposal, one I'm very thankful for. I forget that sometimes. Joe reminded me this morning. Thanks, Joe Banks. I owe you one.

Here are some bonus quotes:

Patricia: My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.
Waponis Chief: We are the children of children and we live as we are shown.
Marshall: Listen, ain't you got nobody?
Joe Banks: No. But there are certain times in your life when I guess you're not supposed to have anybody, you know? There are certain doors you have to go through alone.
Joe Banks: I bribed them to sing a song that would drive us insane and make our hearts swell and burst.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Lazy Sunday

Well, we're not doing much for Father's day around here. Paul is in the middle of his convention set up this weekend and in the interests of frugality, we kept both Mother's Day and Father's Day low key this year. So, while Marley watches Pinky and the Brain, Volume I, Disc I (She specifically asked for this one. I think she's too familiar with this boxed set.), I'm meandering through the blogosphere. I found a couple of quizzes. Here are the results.

You scored as Elizabeth Bennet, As one of Austen's most beloved characters, Elizabeth Bennet represents what most women would like to become: strong, independent, and loyal. Of course, she has her faults including a stubborn will of iron and a clinging to first impressions. Overall, Lizzie is bright and lovable...something to admire and aspire to.

Elizabeth Bennet


Emma Woodhouse


Elinor Dashwood


Jane Bennet


Charlotte Lucas


Marianne Dashwood


Lady Catherine


Which Jane Austen Character are You? (For Females) Long Quiz!!!
created with

Who's going to argue with being told that she's most like Elizabeth Bennet? I'm not. Although. . . I did have a friend tell me once that I am Jane Bennet because of my tendency to put people's bad behavior into perspective.

I thought this test was most timely, what with the new series, The Tudors, on Showtime. I did get Catherine of Aragon the first time around. I didn't save the results and when I went back to retest, I did change one key answer which was more truthful and now I'm good ol' Lady Jane.

Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?
this quiz was made by Lori Fury

I watched Elizabeth I, Disc One with Helen Mirren last night. It is excellent and I can see why she won an Emmy for the role. It is mostly a "talking heads" kind of thing until they get to the, er, "consequences" for those planning her demise. There's nothing like a jolly round of hanging/beheading/disembowelment in front of a cheering crowd to make you glad you're not an Elizabethan era traitor.

Does anyone remember Joe versus the Volcano? At one point, Joe gets told by the company doc that he has a brain cloud. A fatal brain cloud. I think I have a brain cloud today--not a fatal one, just a benign form which prevents me from thinking deep thoughts and doing anything more than lounging around. Maybe the cloud will part tomorrow.

Until then, Happy Father's Day!!!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hindsight is 23/43

Updated below due to my realizing significantly after the fact that I had only answered part of the question. D'oh!

When Julie posed her question last week about forgiving the Fates using the example of the man who was in a coma for 20 years only to wake up and find a changed world, she asked us to imagine ourselves in the same circumstances--either waking up today after being in a coma for twenty years or falling into a coma today and waking up in twenty years. This has been percolating in my brain all week and I actually discussed it yesterday with a friend as we sat and shared a coffee together. It came up in our conversation because we were discussing some of the tragedies that befall people.

As I talked to her, I realized a couple of things. One, emotionally, I can't really go to the place of thinking about what would happen if I went into a coma now and woke up in twenty years. When I try, it feels as if there is some thick veil, transparent, but impossible to push aside. So. I won't. Two, when I consider the "ifs" of waking now from a two decade coma, the biggest, biggest realization that strikes me is how much growing I would have to do, emotionally speaking. The last two decades, almost the same number of years I have been married, has been a time of the most intense personal growth. I guess that is probably normal, although I do know people who just never seem to get to the "next stage" in their emotional evolution.

At 23 years of age, Paul and I were just getting back together after a split that lasted several months. He had just moved to Texas and I would be following him there in August. Moving away from my family and friends, adjusting to life with Paul, I was at a place where I began dealing with some of the issues of my life. I don't know what it is like for other people, but it took being married to allow me the stability to start processing some of that stuff. As the years passed, new issues came up. On one hand, I would love to say that I wish they'd never happened, but when I think about the catalyst for growth they were, I am at least grateful that something positive came out of them.

At 23, I was a bright, articulate, insecure, young woman. I did not see my potential and it never really occurred to me to strive to me something more. I had many fears and had a hard time planning for the future. I could not sit with my discomfort, emotional or physical. I was a good listener and a loyal friend. Seeds of discernment which would later grow into a gift of wisdom were growing but still tender and vulnerable. The intuition and insight which has served me so well was there but obscured at times by my will and prejudices.

At 43, I am sometimes still disturbingly similar to that younger version of my self. But really, that is only a fraction of the time. I'm still bright and often articulate, although parenting and wear and tear sometimes muddles my clarity. I can look back and see the opportunities I might have taken and feel some regret. I weigh that with the possibilities I still might take advantage of and hope that I will take more chances. I wrestle with planning but the future but understand what is good and necessary about doing so. I'm still a little wimpy physically, I think, but am more able to tolerate pain and ill feeling. Emotionally, I have experienced enough to know that most things pass and that if you can just hold on, you will be okay. I am still a good listener and a loyal friend. When I let my attitudes and ego go, I can be wise. I still trust my intuition and insight, but also know enough to allow for other possibilities.

All in all, I liked myself at 23, but I am so glad that I am the 43 year old me. I'm glad this is just an exercise and not a reality. I really wouldn't want to learn all that I have all over again. I've got other things to learn right now.


After going through and reading other people's responses to this week's questions, I realize I didn't really address the third part of Julie's question:
What if I awoke after almost 20 would I deal with all I missed, life as it is after my absence, and reintegrating myself into life? How would I do it? How would I deal with it? How would I forgive fate for all I had missed and lost? Would it be easy or hard? Would my gratitude of a second chance overwhelm me?

There are probably two answers to this: the 23 year old Mary's and the 43 year old Mary's. Young Mary, scared and confused, would probably withdraw. Losing herself in television and books, she might find it easier to avoid the world rather than deal with it. Spiritually, I don't think Young Mary would really cope with it all until and unless she connected with some other Christians she could feel safe with. If there happened to still be friends around, that would make a big difference. They would be touchstones, people to ask questions, people to hold her hand and to listen. Given people like that around, I think Young Mary would cycle through disbelief, anger, fear, excitement, gratitude. Eventually, she would be okay.

Not So Young Mary. Hmmm. . . I think if I woke up from a coma at 63 and Paul, Colin and Marley were in any way able to journey with me, I would be okay faster than Young Mary. I would be jealous, I think, of all I missed and disoriented at the adjustments it would be necessary to make, but so happy to have my family near me. Throw in some friends and I really think I'd be good to go. I'm sure I would still have my times of withdrawal, but I think they would be fewer and of less duration than Young Mary would experience.

As far as forgiveness? I think I would forgive God. Of course, all these scenarios have the underlying assumption that other than that pesky 20 year coma, my health is fine. To realistically understand the physical difficulties and limitations of someone who has been immobile for so long, well, I'm not sure I could ever do justice or even truly be able to imagine all that and I think my faith would most definitely be more challenged.

When my friend and I were having coffee the other day and this subject came up, one of the stories she told me was about listening to a woman who lost her entire family in a fire talk about moving on. I remember hearing about that fire when it happened. Both the parents initially got out of the house and were waiting for the firemen to come. Finally, the husband could not wait any longer while his children were inside and so he went in. When it was all over, they found his body on the stairs, holding his youngest child. My friend looked at me and said that she could imagine moving on if her husband died. She thought she could try if both her children died, but not her husband, but if all three died, she didn't think she would want to go on. She clarified that she believed God could help people get through anything, but that she didn't think she would let God or want God to help her. She would just want to give up.

I thought about that for a minute, and in my classic extroverted way, it wasn't until I said the following out loud that I realized I believed it. I said to her that I could completely see someone feeling that way but that maybe that is one way that God works, that sometimes, he takes a person who doesn't even want to survive their circumstances and brings them around, slowly and tenderly. She looked at me and said she thought so, too. The woman who lost her family? She turned her home into a shelter for any and every kind of person who is lost in some way and needs help.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: School's Out Edition

Well, school's not out, yet. As of this writing, there are three school days left in the 2006-2007 school year. But it is the perfect time for a SWB school edition.

In the last school year, what am I most grateful for?

Colin is about to successfully complete his first year of high school. His father and I watched with pride as he took on a new challenge, the track team. He worked very hard and pushed himself beyond what we've ever seen him do physically. I admire him for that because I was never able to work so hard at his age and as an adult, I wish I had. I think in seeing him strive for something he wanted, we saw that process of character building begin to take place.

Marley has flourished in her multiage class. Her reading skills are coming along and she continues to do well in math. Never one to perform on demand, she has always been acutely uncomfortable on stage for Christmas shows, etc. So, I was quite touched to see that when her teachers asked her when she had bloomed this past year, she wrote: "When I bloomd is when it was in all of are plays Hans Chrsaran Andrson and Cats." Doing the plays, even her tiny little parts, is scary for her but she feels proud of herself and realizes she has accomplished something by going out there and being a school child in Hans Christian Anderson or a Gumbie mouse in Cats.

This year, I've also grown closer to a few of the moms in class. We multiage moms spend a lot of time at the school and it has been nice to develop those relationships. My sense of community has deepened considerably there and I feel as if I am benefiting from my daughter being in this program, also. One benefit alone has been in the walking partner I've had since October. It has been an important part of my exercise regimen. We've worked up to four mile jaunts a couple of times per week. Yeah for walking partners! I'm also grateful this year for the process of applying for and being accepted for graduate school. The magnitude of what I'm trying to accomplish is already beginning to scare me a little, but I'm still at the more excited than scared stage. . . so far!

In the last school year, what am I least grateful for?

With my two darling children, there are always trials. This year, Paul and I have really seen how much Marley struggles with the long term day-in-and-day-out routine of the school year. She was ready for summer break weeks before spring break and my patience has been tested severely as my strong-willed daughter and her father and I have gone through multiple morning battles in order to get her to school.

With Colin, he has always chafed under the school routine, but he has enough school years under his belt to know that the end will come. . . eventually. Instead, his father and I have pushed him a little in regards to the grades we expect of him and, as Chief Executive in Charge of Schooling, I've struggled with the balance of being equal parts encourager and disciplinarian. My resolve has been tested as I've had to keep that expectation, a completely reasonable one, I assure you, alive and not let his pronouncements of "not fair" and "that is so stupid" sway me. (It might not sound like much of a protest, but if you have a teenager in your midst, you know what kind of resistance I'm talking about here.)

Finally, I am still in recovery mode as far as working through some health issues. All the issues of last year, GERD, sleep apnea, etc., are still very much a part of my daily life. My CPAP therapy is still not what it should be and I am persevering with my exercise and diet, although it seems that I can only manage one aspect of that at a time. Currently it is exercise over diet. Next week, who knows? With that, I've struggled with Paul's travel more this year. Partially that is because he has traveled more but I also think I am just weary of it.

Still, I am blessed in so many ways and even with the challenges this year has brought, I have to say that it has been a good one.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Game of Life: Scarface

Updated again. Answers now included.

Updated with more questions below. . .

Years, and I do mean years, ago, Paul and I bought a came called Life. This was not the same board game you might have played as a child. It was a trivia game based on pictures that had been in Life magazine. This game was nigh on impossible to play because you moved your piece around the board by correctly answering one of four questions on the back of a photo card. The card might show a picture of a woman standing in front of a spiral staircase. You might be asked to identify the man standing behind the woman--and that was the easy question. The first time Paul and I played the game, I think it was 45 minutes before one of us answered correctly. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was a picture of a Japanese internment camp from World War II. The pictures dated from the 30s to the early 80s. As a game, it was horrible, but it was fun to look through the pictures and check out the questions and answers.

As I was sorting some pictures today, I came across one of the cards from that game. So, today, at Life, the Universe and Everything, we have a trivia game. The second through fourth questions will give away the answer, so I'll start with the first question. Now, I'll have to admit, that after complaining about how hard the game was, I think this will be an easy answer.

A. Terry Sawchuk sustained these injuries playing what game and at what position before masks were required.

After someone submits the right answer, I'll post the remaining three questions.


So, several of you knew the answer: Hockey Goalie. Go figure. He must have reallllllly loved hocky to suffer all those scars. Now, for more questions:

B. Who became the first professional NHL team in 1924?

Boston Bruins

C. In 1893, who was the Lord Stanley who presented the first famous trophy for this sport?

Governor-General of Canada

D. Until 1967, there were only 6 NHL teams--name them.

Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: Baking Under the Influence

Updated below with some miscellany.

It's allergies! It's a cold! It's a sinus infection!

I don't know what the heck it is, but I am in Day 11 of Sinus Congestion 2007. I just need my own nifty graphic and we could follow this story minute by minute with a ticker across the bottom of each posts until the crisis passes.

It all started innocently enough with my helping a friend deliver and set up 30 floral arrangements. The next morning I woke up with a scratch throat and runny nose. It's allergies, I say to myself and anyone else who'll listen to me. Medicine: the usual allergy regime: Claritin, Astelin, RhinoCort, Ricola lozenges.

A couple of days later, my head becomes more heavy and clogged with congestion. I was feeling pretty bad so I stayed down for a couple of days. It's a cold, I say to myself and anyone else who'll listen to me. Medicine: I forgo the allergy regime and begin taking Tylenol Severe Allergy and Sinus with a couple of ibuprofen thrown in for the head pain, the Ricolas have run out and I'm now on Hall's lozenges.

I start feeling better, things seem to be breaking up. I sound bad but I tell everyone who is making sympathetic noises that I sound worse than I feel--and it's true. Medicine: I continue the Tylenol/ibuprofen/lozenge regime.

Friday. It's been a week. I'm feeling pretty draggy. Head Pain. Worsening congestion. Personal Training session, camping preparations, camping, bad air mattress, wedding to go to. I try my nasal wash thing. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you probably don't want to know.) The saline solution that is supposed to travel from Nostril A to Nostril B via my sinus cavity is stuck in Nostril A. Apparently it is so blocked it can't pass through. Time to see the doctor. I think I might have a sinus infection. Medicine regime remains the same.

Day 11. Well, the nice and lovely physician's assistant in the urgent care doesn't think I have a sinus infection. . . yet. She thinks it was probably an allergy reaction gone bad. She tells me to go back to my allergy meds--all of them, plus add Mucinex. All of them? Yes. Claritin? Yes. Astelin? Yes. RhinoCort? Yes. And add Mucinex? Yes. She also writes me a prescription for an antibiotic in case things don't clear up in the next few days.

I don't think I have ever taken that much medication at one time. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that it all works itself out. In the meantime, forgive me if my typing is a little swervy and loopy!

You might guess that all of the above drama is my desolation for the week. Although there were times when I really did feel well, comparatively speaking, the blech was always there. It affected my ability to get things done which badly needed doing. It affected my efficiency in getting ready for the camping trip. It definitely reduced my enjoyment of the trip. If I were ever to have any illusions about my ability to "carry on" in spite of illness or injury, I have none now. I'm a wimp, plain and simple.

On the up side, there are always consolations to be found. Paul helped to pull things together for trip he probably wasn't thrilled to be making. Marley really enjoyed the camping. We were at a state park with a beach and she spent hours playing in the sand and hopping over the waves. We saw a couple of dozen dolphins just past the waves (or the same three dolphins over and over!) I got to visit with other moms from the class, get to know a couple of the dads better. The wedding we went to was so lovely and the couple are very nice and beautiful together (and so young). Their first dance was to a Johnny Cash song which I just love so much. It was recorded after his wife died and release after he died. The album is American V: A Hundred Highways. I don't know how it comes across in his voice, but you hear the melancholy, resignation, wisdom, longing, love.

Rose of My Heart

We're the best partners this world's ever seen,
Together as close as can be.
Sometimes it's hard to find time in between,
To tell you what you are to me.

You are the rose of my heart,
You are the love of my life.
A flower not fading nor falling apart,
If you're tired, rest your head on my arm.
Rose of my heart.

When sorrow holds you in her arms of clay,
It's rain drops that fall from your eyes.
Your smile's like the sun come to earth for a day,
You brighten my blackest of skies.

You are the rose of my heart,
You are the love of my life.
A flower not fading nor falling apart,
If you're cold, let my love make you warm.
Rose of my heart.

So hard times or easy times, what do I care,
There's nothing I'd change if I could.
The tears and the laughter are things that we share,
Your hand in mine makes all times good.

You are the rose of my heart,
You are the love of my life.
A flower not fading nor falling apart,
You're my harbor in life's restless storm. Rose of my heart.

Rose of my heart.


Miscellaneous Blog Business:

There's a new scenic view up (in the sidebar). This is a cool You Tube clip which features the faces of women in Western art over the last 500 years.

Also, in regards to the book recommendations. I ran to the library on Friday in the midst of all the camping preparations and grabbed whatever I could in five minutes from the list. I ended up with The Professor and the Madman, The Bright Forever and Stones from the River.