Wednesday, April 30, 2008

V is for Vacation

"A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in. "
Robert Orben

After a whole post around the word "ubiquitus" I thought I was on a roll; that I'd finish up the alphabet and this month of letter postings and be able to move on to .... what? Numbers?

I didn't realize it would be so difficult to write about V.

Last Saturday I was caught between a "v"olley of "v" words. Like listening to a tennis match and hearing the thwack of the racket against the ball, then the swoosh of the ball over the net and it's kathunk as it hit the ground, for a few intense minutes I was caught in "v"eritable firefight of v's. My sweetie and my daughter were on a roll and I didn't have a pen to write the words down.

Velocity, victim, voodoo, vagina, (No! I've already written about genitalia, I'm not going to resort to my own Vagina monologue! For this I'm sure you are grateful!) Vishnu, venial, Viking ....

What they didn't seem to understand is that it's not the words I have a problem with, it's what I should write along with the word. I haven't had a lot of recent experience with Vikings or voodoo so I felt at a loss even though they were being so helpful.
This morning - long after the "v" date had come and gone- I read Carol O'Dell's blog. Her subject was "Restless Caregiver Syndrome" which doesn't begin with the letter of the day but has a v in the mix. After caring for her mother who had the double whammy of Parkinson's and Alzheimers, Carol is, to me, the be all and end all when it comes to writing from the heart. What she didn't experience for herself, she's not afraid to research. Let's face it, she's my idol, my "what I want to be when I grow up."

What I realized after reading her post that the "V" word that I can most relate to is "vacation."

Oh my, what would it be like to go to Key West and stay in one of those luxurious rooms at the Southernmost Hotel where my son works. The beach, the sand, the gentle balmy breeze. Yum!

Or maybe a week in Seattle with Wendy, watching movies, drinking tea, playing with Ivy Jane, tiptoeing through the tulips and driving through the mountains to Selah. The evergreen trees, the daffodills, Pike's Market, mother/daughter/sister chats. Oohlala!

As long as I'm dreaming how about a room at the El Tovar, overlooking the South rim of the Grand Canyon. The sunlight peaking over the edge, the rocks turning from pink to red to orange; or the sun setting below the horizon, the sky ablaze with color, and there I sit on my rock watching the light change and listening to the hum of one of God's greatest creations. Mmmm! Pure heaven.

And last but not least on my list of places to vacation, how about a drive down to Jacksonville Beach, a seaside room at a local hotel, an appointment for a massage and being able to sleep whenever and for as long as I want. Delightful! Simply divine!

I know it's my own fault but I can't figure out how to fit time away into my life. I should be more assertive. I should be more pro-active. The truth be told, however, I don't want to pay the emotional price that I fear would go along with vacation. Caregiving comes with baggage that in no way resembles a Luie "V"uitton satchel. Shamefully, I don't think it's a coincidence that whenever I go away, I carry a trashbag full of guilt with me. I do it to myself, but it doesn't help that the person I care for looks at me everytime I walk out the back door with the blue eyes of his inner child that seem to say, "don't leave me."
In today's post, O'Dell talks of every caregiver's fear: I was scared, she wrote.
"... scared my mother would consume me.
I was scared that this was going to be my life from now on, and that by accepting it now, I was accepting it forever.
I was scared that if I sat still, thought too long, I’d realize it was a mistake, that this wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was scared I’d grow old and not have the life, the adventures, the memories and journeys I’d always dreamed of. "

I had an epi-fanny over the weekend. It became clear to me that the work I am doing - the caregiving, the ongoing mundane chores, the lack of solitude, the tunnelvision - is, in reality, my calling. I've been entrusted by the man upstairs with the care and feeding of a nonagenarian. I'm trying to look at my "v"ocation as a blessing not a curse. It's not always easy. Somedays, like O'Dell describes so perfectly, "A restlessness has built up inside you. You gotta get out. You can’t sit in that living room chair one more minute. You can’t scramble one more egg."

These are the days when a vacation looms large in my imagination. I've painted my room a dark green. It looks a little like a cave. But there's a bed, and some quilts, and a lot of my favorite things - books, photos, pillows. It's not "V"alhalla, but if I close my eyes, wave a sprig of lavender under my nose, or sprinkle sand in my sheets, perhaps I can pretend I'm on vacation.

Vacation venues to visit:

Key West [Photo by John]

The road less traveled [Photo by Wendy]

Surf's up! [Photo by John]

Tulip Heaven [Photo by Shannon]


Merry ME

Be sure to go to Carol O'Dell's blog @ April 29. There's always something good to read.

Friday, April 25, 2008

U is for Ubiquitous

ubiquitous \yoo-BIK-wih-tuhs\, adjective:
Existing or being everywhere, or in all places, at the same time.

Ubiquitous is a pretty big word, even for one who tries to use supercalifragilisticexpealidoious in general conversation on a regular basis. However, besides fortuitously beginning with the letter "u" it was the word for the day on Wednesday, and for some reason I can't seem to get it out of my head. That fact alone makes it pretty clear I need a hobby!

There are other "u" words that I could try to write about, like "u"mbrella, "u"ser-friendly, and "U"-turn. Yet none of them are quite as lofty sounding as ubiquitous. In reality, my only attempt at using ubiquitous in a sentence was something along the lines of: The ubiquitous use of cell phones has far surpassed my earliest prediction that it will never catch on.

The problem with this sentence -even if I've used the word correctly, of which I'm not sure - is that I'm as guilty of over using my cell phone as the next person. It was only a few weeks ago that I forgot to turn the damned thing off and it started ringing as I reverently "q"ueued for Holy Communion.

I'm seriously considering tossing the thing in the ocean. The same ocean that I would grossly pollute by tossing all guns, tax forms, dog fight promoters and child molesters into. (At the risk of sounding inhumane - as if this sort deserves humane treatment - I'd use the guns and tax forms to wrap around the molesters ankles to keep them from surfacing.) The ocean is a pretty big place so dumping this kind of detritus seems like a good form of re-cycling ... the sharks can eat the sharks.

Back to the point. Except in the case of real emergencies when I might not even be able to find the blasted thing, getting rid of my cell phone would not be any big deal. For one thing it is way out of date. It only rings when it feels like it, not necessarily when I have a call. It does not take pictures, I don't know how to download zippy ring tones, and the very idea of text messaging boggles my mind. My fingers are much to big and slow to push those little buttons so that they will make an identifiable message.

My granddaughter on the other hand can make her phone sing! Her fingers fly over the keyboard, and switch from menu to menu like a trapeze artist in Ringling Brother's circus - with the greatest of ease. I guess this is where I have to admit, that the main reason I dislike the little technological marvels is that I don't know how to use them. This apple doesn't fall far from my Dad's tree when it comes to believing the adage about old dogs and new tricks. Somethings, like phone calls in church, traffic, a restaurant, a doctor's office, or at the dinner table, just don't seem necessary to me.

Take this recent experience for example:
I was trying to get in contact with a teenage girl who was sponsoring a lad from church for a spiritual weekend. The only way to reach her was, by phone ... duh! Not thinking of the time of day and that she'd probably be in the middle of a geometry class, I dialed the number. The phone rang twice.

It was answered by a voice whispering something about not being able to talk. The phone went dead. Now what, I thought to myself?

Within seconds my phone started to ring. I flipped it open to discover the words: Who are you? scrolled across the 2x2 inch screen. "Who am I?" I wondered aloud. "Why don't you answer your phone and find out?"

As I've already disclosed, I don't know how to text message. Thus, my only opportunity to introduce myself was to call her back. So I redialed. The phone was answered before the last number had an opportunity to finish its rhythmic beeping.

"What do you want?" said the muffled whisperer, sounding like I was some creature out of a horror movie (as if the giant, half man-half beast ever says, "oh I just want to be your friend.")
I "q"uickly told her who I was and what I wanted. She whispered another something I couldn't make out and hung up. I was getting nowhere fast. I was getting angry.

Then the phone rang again. When I answered it, a perfectly nice girl spoke to me in a voice I could hear and gave me all the information I requested in less time than it took to text message supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

"U"ndoubtedly she thought I was a dork. And there is no "q"uestioning I thought she could have been more "u"ser-friendly. But what do I know?

Like the discovery of fire, man's ability to put words and pictures on a teeny tiny computer chip has changed the world. I have a choice, I can either try to beat the young whipper-snappers at their own game or I can join them. In reality, it's not a choice at all. The foot I have stuck back in the "good old days" of the 1960's is barely holding on. You know, that age when all phones had rotary dials and nothing was so important that it couldn't wait to be said to a real person on the other end of the line. Picking your kids up from school was all about discussing the day's plans not everyone in the car carrying on their own phone conversations.

Whether I like it or not, I realize it is time to jump into the 21st century and add a John Phillip Sousa tune to my ring tones. "U"biquitous or not, I'd still like to think I march to my own drummer!

Some other "u" words:
ukulele utensil

Upside down


Signing off,
Merry ME

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

OPQRS - I've got some catching up to do! Part I

I doubt if anyone would believe me if I said the dog ate my calendar. Perhaps a few of my faithful readers would consider it a possibility that a certain black cat peed on my calendar, but that is stretching even the "power pee-er's" ability to soak reading material above his head. The calendar I use most often is on the back of the kitchen door - a good 5 feet out of his reach!

So, in all honesty, I have to admit the fairly obvious reason I've not posted lately is not because of some animal's lack of manners, but my own lack of ideas. I really believed writing about the alphabet was going to be easy. Then I hit the wall. Like Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall (of letters, not of bricks) I fell off and am having trouble putting my "pieces" back together again!!!!

I think the problem started the night I was supposed to write something about the letter "O".

It so happened that this was the same night that Dad filled the commode with bright red blood and we "o"pted for the nearest - not the fastest - Emergency Room we could find.

Sparing you the gorier details, the only thing I could have written that night would have been:

O is for "OOOOOOOW"

As "o"ften happens in "o"vercrowded, non-soundproofed emergency rooms, everybody gets to hear everyone and everything else that is going on outside their own little curtained cubicle. I don't have any idea what the woman's problem was, but I can tell you that every time a person of the medical persuasion got within touching distance, she let out a scream of "I'm dying" proportions.

To say it was unnerving would be an understatement!

Stay tuned ....


P is for penis - my dad's penis! Yikes!

Never in a million years would I have believed that I would not only write the word penis in a place where all the world could read (if they chose to), but I'd associate the word with my father.
Oh sure, I've known for a long time that my Dad has a penis - I didn't just fall off no turnip truck! But like most kids, even those of us over 50, I don't like to think of my parents as having or using their private parts. It always gets around somehow to the thought of my parents having sex, and I prefer to believe that all five daughters were daintily left in pretty pink baskets on the front porch by a long legged bird that smelled suspiciously of Vlasic pickles!

Some of this naivete was dissipated in the waning years of my mom's life. As I was responsible for helping mom in and out of the shower and on and off the toilet, the care and upkeep of her privates was strictly utilitarian. After the first tremulous meeting, I was able to do just about any job that was called for. Still, she was a girl; I had a lifetime's knowledge of things girly.

Penises, however, are a different matter all together. Oh sure, I knew that men and women had different plumbing but, like all things masculine, i.e. power tools, toilet flushers and charcoal fires, I didn't sully my plaid jumper and lace trimmed socks by going there! I grew up in an age when some things weren't talked about. I grew up in a house full of women. I grew up closer to the city than the country so the discussion of private parts and how they worked were not commonplace. I don't recall having even a special word for "down there." We didn't need one because we simply didn't discuss it. Imagine, if you can, living in a house with five girls and never hearing the word vagina. I know it's hard to believe but said girls actually went through puberty without ever using the word menstruation, period, or tampon. Go figure!

So there I am in the emergency room rubbing my dad's arm like I might a child's, as if it could possibly make him feel better, as a doctor maneuvered a plastic catheter tube up and into my father's penis heading for his bladder. I started singing "la la la" about the time the word "p"rostate was mentioned.

There's more .....


Q would have to be for feeling a little "queasy."

I believe I've mentioned before that when a person I love is being treated for a medical emergency where blood is a very real consequence, I sometimes get a little light headed. The lights get shimmery, the temperature in the room goes up by ten degrees, and the sterile curtained cubicle begins to slowly spin.

I don't know for sure, because I am usually asked to leave the room as the color begins to leave my face, but I suspect the way to prevent this from happening is either to put my head between my knees and count to 100 as I concentrate of breathing in and out, or, worst case scenario, actually concentrate on the procedure being done - stand outside myself and think of it as a science experiment. This is not easily done when the experiment is being performed on my dad's willy.

I chose instead, as I rubbed a sore spot onto his thin-skinned forearm, to focus all my attention on the screamer in the other room!

There's still more ....


Keeping with this theme, R is for recovery.

The good news is that the afroementioned blood was not coming from my Dad's bladder. It appears to have been the result of a procedure done earlier in the week. More penis woes of which I won't go into. With the exception of some burning when he tinkles - duh!! - Dad seems to be okay inspite of the degree of indignity he experienced.

I, on the other hand, took about three days to bounce back. I know what you're thinking. I have to say I completely agree with you. It's pretty narcissitic to want to tell you about ME after telling you what my dad had just endured. But here's a little insight I had into world of caregiving.

Just a little bit more ...

Merry ME

OPQRS - Part V

S is for Superwoman on Steroids

Let's go back to the beginning of this story. I admit to already feeling a little testy when I walked into the house at 10pm, only to be greeted with "dad, wants YOU." (Picture if you will, the old military poster. You know the one with the scary looking Uncle Sam glaring and pointing a finger at "YOU," suggesting that it's your, and yours alone, loyalty and service he wants.). Then to come face to toilet with a bowl that looked like someone had been playing with cherry Koolaid ... well, let's just say, I didn't say, "oh look, we're having a party!"

Perhaps I went into the night's events with a tiny little chip on my shoulder. Why me? I wondered. Why now? Well, Merry ME, because it's your job ... that's why!!!

Feeling like you just want to go to bed and sleep til Christmas, is the reason, I believe, that God invented adrenaline. There are just some times, when a person needs to be jolted into action. A cattle prod might have the same affect, but let's face it, where's the cattle prod when you need it? When a mom, or a wife, or a daughter is called into action, it is the adrenaline pumping through her veins that makes every inch of her being forget about fleeing and, instead, willing to take on a grizzly bear if need be to protect and fix the one she loves.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, epinephrine (adrenaline) is a hormone secreted by the adrenal medulla that is released into the bloodstream in response to physical or mental stress, as from fear or injury. It initiates many bodily responses, including the stimulation of heart action and an increase in blood pressure, metabolic rate, and blood glucose concentration. I'm no scientist. I can't tell you about my blood pressure, glucose level or metabolic rates.

I can tell you, however, that this body that was ready for sleep, snapped to attention and was wide awake til after 5am. My eyes and ears were alert to the graphic sights and sounds of a trauma center. Usually mild mannered, I was ready to fight for my dad, the woman across the hall and even hospital staff who was obviously overworked and understaffed. When dad looked like he was snoozing the thought "Anyone here need their arm rubbed? Here, let me help ..." actually went through my mind. I became superwoman. Strong. Invincible. A little crabby, but all powerful nonetheless.

The trouble with all stimulating drugs is that after the high wears off, or in my case, the possibility of danger (and imminent death - the very real yet unmentioned dread) was eliminated, the body literally wants to hibernate. Well, eat first, then sleep. And sleep some more. And sleep some more. I think it took three days to actually feel rested. Three days of still getting up and going through the day's normal routine of cooking, cleaning and doing. Long days that felt like I was wearing cement combat boots. Every step was an effort. Chores got done. Niceties were long forgotten.

Sometime on the third day when I had my menfolk cowered in a corner wondering where the dragon flames coming from my nose and mouth would strike next, I realized that another after effect of the hormone rush, is just plain nastiness. Maybe that has something to do with glucose levels and metabolism, or maybe it's just the flip side of my Super persona. Superwoman turns into SuperBitch before actually returning to Merry ME. I don't know the answer to this, but I think it's good to know and be prepared for next time. Sadly there will be a next time, it is the nature of caring for a man who is 91 years old (give or take a couple of weeks!)

And there you have it. A few days late but I think I'm caught up.
Hoping there's never again an opportunity to write about penises.
Merry ME

Part VI

T is for Tying up Loose Ends

Here I am at the end of my posting, but looking like I'm at the beginning. Is anyone but me confused? I expect that my readers are much more computer savvy than I am. I couldn't figure out how to change the order of the Parts I-V so that they descended rather than ascended, which made more reading sense to me. So I went into the post options and simply reversed the time of posting. It breaks up the reading of a long post and, in my opinion, flows better. What do you think?

To keep this extended post in line with the others for the month I'm going to add some words that are fun to say. At least in my opinion. The fun, I guess, is actually on the on the tongue of the sayer! I've found it to be a little bit of a challenge to think of words without cheating - i.e. going to Google. My lists are usually a combo of both! For all you non-commenters out there have you tested your own word skills and added to the list(s) even if you haven't posted them?

I'd like to believe I'm stimulating some "t"hinking!

Here are my lists:
"O"ctopus photo by John


Collin the "P"irate

Ivy Jane is "p"retty in "p"ink

que cera cera
que (a good Scrabble word!)
"q"uintessential "Q"uinn

robin redbreast

"S"auagefest "s"milers


tally ho

"T"exas Jimmy and his daughter in Las Vegas

I'm not sure if I'm back to where I should be, but I'm close. I have successfully whittled away most of this day. If I were to be paid by the number of words I write, I'd perhaps have enough money for a tank of gas!
Merry ME

Friday, April 18, 2008

N is for Nothing to Post

Today has been one of those days. "N"othing bad has happened, which in itself is a good thing. I just kind of feel at odds with the world. Like everyone else is driving on the right side of the road and I'm on the left. I'm not mad and I'm not sad. Just kind of blah.

I haven't really been able to come up with anything fun to write about so I was going to leave it at nothing. Then, as often happens, I looked out the window over the sink. The birds have returned from wherever they've been, chomping away at the seeds in the feeder. And the blue jays have rediscovered the bird bath. Truth be told, they've probably been waiting for the bathwater to be cleaned and warmed! Well, I did the cleaning yesterday and the sun did the warming today.

Is there anything more fun to watch than a bird taking a bath. Like people I've discovered birds have their own personal bathing rituals. The jays jump in, flap their wings, spraying water all around and jump out. Then they fly around the yard, tell their friends about how the water feels and repeat the whole thing. I guess until they feel clean.
The mockingbird, on the other hand, sits on the fence, waiting in the queue, squawking at the jay to get on with it. Once the bath is free the mockingbird makes his move. He jumps in cannonball-style and simply rejoices in the water.

Cardinals are more private, checking that the coast is clear before barely dipping in his toes.

Doves seem to be clueless. They'll take a drink or two, but the thought of actually getting wet all over is beyond their reach!

Got to run get ready for dinner. Fish in a bag - yum????

Some "n" words worth printing:
Never-never Land
N-E-S-T-L-E-S :)
Nano Nano

"N"o place to park????

"N"ot much more than that,
Merry ME

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

M is for ME!!!!!!!!!

I do most of my best writing in my head just before I fall asleep. Because I'm so comfortable I tell myself I'm sure to remember the great ideas in the morning and don't bother to get up and jot down notes. Naturally I wake up and rarely remember I even had a writable thought.

Last night I had some thoughts on marriage. They were pretty profound even for me. But, as you've probably guessed by now, I have no recollection of any of them. And now it's ten o'clock, almost time for bed again and I've not posted anything.

Sure my name begins with an "M" but I'm not going to exploit my already highly exploited opportunity to write the ramblings of my mind. Instead I'll opt for giving you a fun little word that was actually's word of the day. An "m" word - how's that for convenient happenstance.

"miasma \my-AZ-muh; mee-\, noun:
1. A vaporous exhalation (as of marshes or putrid matter) formerly thought to cause disease; broadly, a thick vaporous atmosphere or emanation.2. A harmful or corrupting atmosphere or influence; also, an atmosphere that obscures; a fog.miasma \my-AZ-muh; mee-\, noun: "

A thick vaporous atmosphere or emanation - sounds like a B movie starring Jamie Lee Curtis, doesn't it? You know she would be out there in the dark miasma by herself with the scary guy with a large knife breathing down her neck. Run, Jamie Lee, run!

I've got to tell you, my faithful readers, it's not as easy as I thought it might be too come up with a post every day, even with a given set of parameters. I mean, really, if I can't write about the alphabet, what can I write about. Letters are pretty basic for words, aren't they.

I'll think about that as I go to sleep tonight and hope I have better luck remembering my "N" ideas.

One of my favorite "M" people would have to be John's friend "M"artha. That lady is what most of us might call a saint.

Here are a few "M" words that I couldn't think of anything to write about:
maple tree, maple syrup, maple leaf
Milky Way

And last but not least, here's a picture of "me'" on my birthday. It doesn't get much "m"errier or "m"ary-er than this!

Merry ME

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

L is for Love

There have been lots of love songs written over the years. Some make you smile, some bring tears to the eyes of a true romantic. In my opinion, it's almost impossible to think of any song more poignant or right on the money that Annie's Song by John Denver. Perhaps Love, of course, runs a close second. Say what you will about John, but the boy knew how to put the song of his heart to music.

I'm sure everyone has their own favorite love song and love song singer. Yesterday, a clerk in the grocery store was singing a Marilyn Monroe torch song as I checked out. You could tell by looking at her smile that she had memories of love on her mind.

Tom T. Hall, who may not be known to anyone that doesn't listen to the Classic Country music station on cable TV, has also penned what is, to me, one of the finest love songs ever written.

I know it's weird and I probably shouldn't admit this, but we tune into old time country station almost every afternoon. It baffles me how he does it, but my dad uses these twangy ditties to serenade him during his naptime. Day after day the songs are recycled through a program that leaves little room for variance. So I can pretty much guarantee that Hall's "I Love" will play on a regular basis. Like, Thank God for Kids, by the Oakridge Boys, Hall's song always makes me smile.

It's slow and easy; it rhymes, sort of; and it has a beat that makes you want to slow dance around the kitchen in the arms of your sweetie.

I love little baby ducks, old pick up trucks, slow-moving trains, and rain.
I love little country streams, sleep without dreams, Sunday school in May, and hay.
And I love you, too.
I love leaves in the wind, pictures of my friends, birds in the world, and squirrels
I love coffee in a cup, little fuzzy pups, bourbon in a glass, and grass
And I love you too.
I love honest open smiles, kisses from a child, tomatoes on the vine, and onions
I love winners when they cry, losers when they try, music when it's good, and life.
And I love you too. *

Does it get any better than that?

Today is my sweetie's birthday. It calls for a few celebratory words, balloons and an apple pie ablaze with 63 birthday candles. And, don't you think it also calls for a song? Taking my cue from Mr. Hall, here is my version of "I Love" dedicated to the man I love:

I love tulips when they bloom, tea when it's brewed, buying new shoes, and steak.
And I love you too.
I love candles that are lit, the chair where you sit, berries that you pick and bubbles
And I love you too.
I love showers when they're hot, ice cream when it's cold, corn when it's popped and coke.
And I love you too.
I love your eyes when they smile, your voice when you sing, the pool that you clean and cats.
And I love you too.
I love pencils with a point, quilts without sheets, chips without waves, and Sharpies.
And I love you too.

And so it goes!
People on my "L"ist of favorite people would have to be: "L"uther, "L"inda and "L"aura

Here are some other "L" words:
Lincoln logs

"L"abrador retriever dressed for a football game

"L"inda "l"ugging "l"avender

An iguana named "L"ou

"L"eaving you til tomorrow,
Merry ME

Monday, April 14, 2008

K is for Kakapo

Perhaps, like me, you've never heard of a Kakapo. According to it is "the world's rarest and strangest parrot. It is the "only flightless and nocturnal parrot, as well as being the heaviest in the world, weighing up to 8 pounds." It's kind of cute isn't it!

I googled "K" animals because I wanted to find out more about "k"angaroos and "k"oalas. It seems to me that animal names that begin with the letter k abound in Australia. I wonder why that is? Besides the aforementioned "k"ritters that almost everyone is aware of there is the also the "k"ookaburra, echidna, biby, bandicoot and quokka. I realize they are not all"K" words, but still kind of fun to say.

According to the enchanted learning website, in all of North America there is only one "K" animal - the not so well-known "k"ikjou" - a long-tailed, nocturnal mammal from rainforests in the Americas." Our native region is not lacking, however, in funny sounding animal names. Take the coypu, collared peccary, nutria or woolly bear caterpillar for example. I have to ask the obvious question, here. Who was in charge of naming all the world's animals??
The letter K also stands for "K"ey West. I've never been there, but Johnson has taken some fantastic pictures of the place. For rest and relaxation it looks like it may be a good place to "k"ick back. Check out these photos that, in my opinion, rival anything a National Geographic photographer could take. I may be a little bit prejudiced but I think my "k"id has some "K"odak talent!
Some other K words (with a little help from my sweetie):
Kubla Khan
knock knock
Well, as they say down under, "good 'ay, Mates"
Merry ME

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I and J are for Ivy Jane - what else!

"Babies are such a nice way to start people."
Don Herold

Even though I missed posting yesterday, I feel like I can combine I and J easily by offering up a few photos of Little Miss Ivy Jane and still be up to date. I realize it's cheating a little, but since I missed the first four days of April and already failed at the NaBloMoPo monthly assignment, I'm kind of making my own rules as I go along!

When it comes to baby reporting, I'm at a severe disadvantage. I live on one side of the country and Ivy lives on the other. I haven't been close enough to monitor her inch by inch growth, but I have a feeling she is into full baby mode. I'd bet she's smiling at her mom and dad, and slowly, but surely, wrapping them around her itsy bitsy tiny finger.

It's funny how babies have a way of doing that and parent's don't even know they are being manipulated. They don't begin to get a clue until the day when their sweet angel child who has turned two and a half, begins to turn demonic right before their eyes. One minute the little cutesy wootsy is coyly batting her eyelashes at mom (or dad), sending telepathic suggestions that she wants the cherry flavored lollipop wrapped in Cinderella paper. As soon as mom sends back a hint of negativity - perhaps a shake of her head or a no-it's almost-lunchtime look in her eye - the devil begins to emerge. Like a werewolf as the full moon begins to rise, just when clueless mom thinks she has made it out of the store safely, the feet start kicking, the hands start flailing, and the scream that sounds like it was birthed somewhere near the big toe, comes to a full crescendo. How and where the precious little baby learned to scream like that is a mystery to every parent who has ever said no to a toddler.

The good news is Ivy Jane is still only 3 months old. What seems to me to be time moving at mach speed, probably feels somewhat akin to eternity for the sweet baby's mom and dad. Getting a newborn on some kind of a feeding and sleeping schedule can make for some long days and nights for new parents. The first adrenaline and hormone induced euphoria of having produced a masterpiece (and what baby isn't?) wears off soon after the threesome gets home and tries to live a "normal" life that in all actuality will never be "normal" again. Every day ... for what eighteen years?... will have it's own share of giggles, booboos, hissy fits, and miracles. This is the sole purpose of a baby book. Write it down now, MJ, because reconstructing it after Ivy's wedding is going to be kind of hard!!!!!

When I was the mother of a small girl child, places like GAP Kids didn't exist. Little girls wore pink dresses, lace topped socks and, yes, dare I say it, pink bonnets! To her grave distress as I admit this, my Baby Wendy wore these sorts of things, for two reasons. One, she was a girl, and, two, we got a lot of hand-me-downs from people who wouldn't have considered buying denim overalls for their daughters. As soon as Wendy was able to voice her objections, she stopped wearing dresses, and, try as I might, the color pink was never again allowed in her wardrobe.

I was a little dismayed when I voiced my pink predilections to MJ and Aunt Wendy, and got some pretty negative feedback. Feeling sure that Ivy Jane would be a perfect candidate for smocked dresses and eyelet diaper covers, I offered to buy her first dress.

"Ha!" said Aunt Wendy.

"I don't think so," said MJ.

Apparently, they breed 'em different in the NW. Baby girls wear striped onesies made of organic cotton. Going green does not just refer to the environment. Lumberjack plaids, camouflage greens, autumn leaf orange are the colors of choice that appeal to the urban chic girls I know in Seattle. There's nothing wrong with this. They are grown women each with their own sense of style. But, I'm going to reserve judgement about Ivy Jane. I happen to know, that even outdoor loving girls go through a Princess/Barbie/TuTu wearing stage. It's unavoidable. It's genetic.

Discussing this phenomenon in growing girls the mother of all adventures, one of my favorite authors, Jeanne Marie Laskas says: "Like so many little girls her age, she has embraced dance. She's a twirler, a slider, a leaper. Recently she learned that, somewhere in this world, there are tap shoes. She saw a girl in a movie going clickety clack with her feet, and understood it as destiny." I smile inside just thinking about a baby, whom I've never even met, someday clickety clacking down a Seattle sidewalk. Of course, that might be her pink, rhinestone hiking boots making all the noise!

Some "I" words:




inky dinky doo







Wishing I was sitting in a rocking chair holding a green clad cutie patootie and singing "you are my sunshine,"

Merry ME

*Bantam Books, 2006, pg. 78

Friday, April 11, 2008

H is Hot Flashes

Will they ever end?

Hot, hotter, hottest,
Merry ME

Thursday, April 10, 2008

G is for Girls Gone Goofy

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice, and everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of.
Robert Southey, English poet and historian

"G"one are the days that "well-brought-up English girls are taught by their mothers to boil all veggies for at least a month and a half, just in case one of the dinner guest turns up without his teeth."* As a woman in my mid 50's I've grown in freedom and ability because of the courage of my fighting feminist foremothers. These ladies weren't satisfied with the barefoot and pregnant status quo. They were willing to take on a male dominated society to pave the way for women like me, and my daughter and my granddaughter. The right to vote, climb a corporate ladder, fly to the moon, go to war and even run for president are privileges I've never NOT known. I wouldn't want it any other way. However, in the last few weeks I've read about a disturbing increase in the fighting behavior of young women.

I don't want to start an argument, or worse, a family rebellion. After all, second generation Reynolds women are not shy about telling their mothers just how wrong we can be. But I've got to go out on a limb here and say I think when adolescent girls trade their Barbie dolls and jump ropes for fistfights, feminism might just have crossed a line of acceptable girl behavior.

I'm not saying that just because they've been doing it since time began that it's okay for boys to beat each other up; or worse, "boys will be boys." I have to believe, though, testosterone has something to do with a man's ability to pummel his best friend, then get up out of the dust and finish the ball game. I just don't think that girls are genetically wired for wild, fist fighting the way boys are. Sadly, I may be wrong about this.

I don't get hand to hand combat, never have - never will - I'd be the first one on a playground to say, "let's put down our dukes and blow some bubbles." I'm a person of words, which, I know, can cut as deep as any knife. Still I believe talking things out is a better way to mend fences than kidnapping, duct taping, face punching, or hip stomping, not to mention video taping the whole scene.

Of course, I want to blame telecommunication. If we banned TV crime shows, horror movies, the Internet and phototaking cell phones wouldn't we have a more peaceful world? Maybe not. Probably the best protection for kids growing up today is to encircle them in bubble wrap.

Things were different when I was in middle school. Oh sure, we had the regular social stratification - popular girls vs smart girls, athletic girls vs girls unable to catch a softball with a glove on both hands, girls dressed in matching Villager sweater and skirt sets vs girls who made their own A-line shifts. Maybe I wasn't a complete "g"eek but I did feel like I was always on the outside looking in. I spent a lot of time wondering what cool actually meant and how to hide the fact that I was a couple inches taller than the boys who had begun to look better than they had before the summer of 1965.

While in the 7th grade, I never did master the art of fitting in but I've got to tell you, I had an overdeveloped "g"rasp of "g"eography. How many kids can say that at one time in their lives they could name every country, capital, ocean, mountain range, and river in the entire world? My teacher, Mr. Robertson, was a stickler for memory quizzes. Our year-end exam was a blank map of the world and we had to fill in the blanks. I'm not ashamed to say I aced the test and have carried around a teenie tiny bit of smug satisfaction at my "g"eographical "g"enius for all these years.

Never mind that most Eastern block countries have new names since they are no longer part of the USSR, or that the map of Africa has changed more than once since my world trivia triumph. Today I have trouble figuring out the difference in longitude and latitude, but for one "g"lorious moment in time I gave up worrying about what others thought of me and tested my own female brainiac limits. Is this what's missing from my "g"randdaughter's "g"eneration? Do girls today believe they need to exercise their brawn rather than their brains? Is this progress? What do you think?

Here are some less controversial "G" words:

Here are some of my favorite "G" people:

"G"rinning "G"reenwoods

"G"oalie "G"abby

"G"ad-about "G"avin

"G"oodbye for now, Merry ME

*Calvin Trillin

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The "F" word

The word that used to be uttered only by drunken sailors is now an every day word. I may be a bit of a Susie Sunshine, but I'm no prude. I've been known to cuss up a blue streak in my life. I am not proud of this kind of behavior, but I understand that when you hit your thumb with a hammer, there are only a few words that will actually make you feel better. The F-word being almost as good a remedy as a kiss from mom. Yet, even I was a little shocked to hear a young girl in the grocery line yesterday say to the older woman she was with (her mother?) "what the 'F*#!*' is wrong with you?" Yikes!

I saw the same girl a few minutes later, waiting near the parking lot. Perhaps for the mother to bring the car closer for said younger woman to load the groceries in the trunk, who knows? I can only surmise that this girl was having a bad day. She was not smiling; in fact, I got the distinct impression she might punch an innocent bystander in the nose as easily she could cuss her mother.

I've tried giving this cusser the benefit of the doubt. I know I've been mad enough in my life to say the "F" word and more. Perhaps she wasn't feeling well. Maybe her mother had just told her some upsetting news. Maybe some other girl had written a nasty-gram and posted it on U-tube. Still, I feel sad for a young person who looks and acts so totally unhappy.

Was it a "f"luke or seredipity that just as I'm up to writing about the letter "F" I came across one of my children's books entitled "Fun is a Feeling"? It's a happy little book full of wisdom and "f"antasy and "f"anciful illustrations.

The story's enlightened main character is a smiley-faced juggler wearing purple pants, a Bob Marley hat and pointed fairy shoes. According to this wise man who is part acrobat and part psychotherapist:
"Fun isn't something or somewhere or who;
It's a feeling of joy that lives inside you."*

Then he goes on to explain in a don't-worry-be-happy kind of sing-song rhyme, that "fun can be found wherever you go."
"It's all what you make it.
It's all what you see.
Only you can create how you want it to be.
The next time you're bored make a smile from your frown,
Just stand on your head, and you've turned it around!"

Or, you can follow the advice of Miles, in Risky Business, who as I recall danced in his underwear, not pointy toed shoes:
"Every now and then say, "What the f*#!k."
"What the f#!*k" gives you freedom.
Freedom brings opportunity.
Opportunity makes your future. " **
I don't know if that's true or not, but if it is, that girl at Publix is going to have some kind of future.

Some other "f"un "F" words:
Frick and Frack
faerie, faery, fairy
My new "f"un "f"riend "F"ather Georges singing happy birthday to my sweetie in "F"rench (also in Arabic, and Italian!) It was "f"antastic!

"F"arewell for now,
Merry ME

* Fun is a Feeling,Chara M. Curtis, Illumination Arts Publishing Company, 1992
**Memorable Quotes from Risky Business.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

E is for Epiphany

While making a mind list of the "e" words I know, I realized there are several I've heard but actually have no idea what they mean. Take "exegesis" for "e"xample. I really have no clue as to why that word is even taking up the space in my brain that could obviously used to remember where I put my keys.

Dad actually used "epithet" in a sentence yesterday and I thought he was talking about his "epitaph" which made no sense to me at all.

One of my all time "e" words has got to be "epiphany." I don't know when I first learned this word but it feels like it's been with me all my life. Weird I know. But the real reason I love it so much is because of the time many years ago (where does the time go?) Wendy was telling me she'd had an "ep-i-fanny!" I swear I can't say that word without smiling. Now I'm not making fun of my daughter who happens to have a Bachelor's degree in English so if it came to a word contest, I'd surely lose. Don't you agree, though, that it's much more fun to say epifanny than epiphany? Why have words if we can't have fun with them?

I heard some news yesterday that sort of falls in line with my alphabet journaling. My "ex"-husband got married last Friday. I have known for a long time it would happen, just not when. I have a feeling even the bride and groom were waiting for the right moment to come along. Seems like a Friday afternoon was as good a time as any for a little trip down to the courthouse. Woohoo!

In the years since we've been divorced, the man I married when I was a mere 18, has become a great friend. Perhaps that was what was missing in our marriage - friendship. Of course, all relationships are a two-way street, but I take a lot of the responsibility for the demise of our marriage. I was young, naive, often depressed, needy, and, some might say a tad on the "e"ristic side. It didn't help that Jim's job kept him gone for long periods of time. It's often hard to feel married, or know how to be part of a couple when one is alone so much of the time. At the time we separated we both played the blame game. Now I think the failure to make things work was inevitable. I'm sad about that. I'm sorry for that.

Still I'm glad he has found someone to spend the rest of his life with. Part of me feels like I should shed a tear or two, but all I can really do is smile. That's what friends do when they hear good news, right? Jim and I will always share children, good friends, and a history of nightmarish vacations. We will have memories in common of Fiats and Volkswagens, rum and cokes, driving "e"xibitions, a faithful but stinky dog, a runaway cat, a bird named Fred, setting an alarm clock on Christmas morning, a Barcelona meal of fried (five?) chicken, and moving vans carrying all our earthly possessions to unknown places we'd soon call home. I'm glad he's got someone to make new memories with.

Some more "E" words:
Easter egg (tree)
Englebert Humperdink
eenie meanie miney mo

I like this quote from Winnie the Pooh's friend "E"eyore. It sounds like very sound advice!
"When trying to rescue friends from a tree, make sure the plan doesn't involve having everybody stand on your back."
Merry ME

Monday, April 7, 2008

"D" Words Abound

Here are some of the obvious "D" words I could easily write about:

Daylight Savings Time
Daddy long legs

But I recently got an email message from Women for Women International that I thought I'd share with you. I don't readily recall how I got on the mailing list for this organization but the messages are the kind I have trouble d"eleting. The pictures of the women and children are haunting. The stories "d"ownright sickening. Yet, somewhere among the ugly and challenging truth are tales of hope and resiliency. I don't know how that is possible. It just goes to show that there are two sides to every coin. The "d"ark side is tempered with light. "D"estructive forces are met with hope.

"D"RC: For over ten years now, a war has been raging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). To date, over 5.4 million people have been killed, and many more have been tortured, beat, and raped – most of them women. Through kidnapping, mutilation, rape and torture, the soldiers of both foreign militias and the Congolese army are holding women hostage in their own country.

"On Tuesday April 8, at 10pm HBO is premiering the Sundance Film Festival’s 2008 award-winning documentary The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo. It will continue to air throughout the month of April. This powerful, moving film literally breaks through the wall of silence and opens the world's eyes to the tens of thousands of women and small children who have been raped, mutilated and tortured in the name of war.*

I've got to tell you, when it comes to movies, I like mine with a whole lot of fantasy and a "d"ash of humor. Watching real time horror does not sound like my cup of tea. I believe, however, that in order to have real and lasting change, in ourselves or in the world, we first need to have awareness. Watch or not, the choice is yours.

Then there's "D"arfur. I am embarrassed to admit that all I know about that country is that it is in Africa and people are "d"ying by the millions. Since it begins with the letter of the day, "D," I decided to research it a little. Again, it doesn't make for light reading.

Located in western Sudan, Darfur, is an area about the size of Texas. It borders Libya, Chad and the Central African Republic. Farmers and nomads, it's people are some of the poorest in the whole of Africa. "Even in good times, the Darfuri people face a very harsh and difficult life; these are not good times in Darfur."

"This scorched-earth campaign by the Sudanese government against Darfuri civilians has, through direct violence, disease, and starvation, already claimed as many as 400,000 lives. It has spilled over into neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic. In all, about 2.3 million Darfuris have fled their homes and communities and now reside in a network of internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Darfur, with over 200,000 more living in refugee camps in Chad. These refugees and IDPs are almost entirely dependent on the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations for their basic needs – food, water, shelter, and health care."

I know it's rather Pollyanna-ish, but I feel like singing, "what the world needs now is love, sweet love, that's the only thing that there's just too little of." When are people going to learn?

On a lighter note, here is a picture of my friend "D"esiree and I sharing a "d"airy "d"elight:

Signing off to start my "d"aily chores,
Merry ME

Sunday, April 6, 2008

C is for Crisp

1. Cool, crisp, cotten sheets. Just made for curling up with a good book or cuddling with your sweetie.
2. Icy cold, crisp cucumbers sprinkled with a dash of salt and pepper and drizzled with basalmic vinegar.
3. Crisp cotton towels, fresh out of the dryer, warm and fluffy.
4. Cold, crisp, juicy red delicious apple that crunches when you bite into it.
5. McD's french fries, hot out of the grease, crisp and salty.
6. A crisp and invigorating autumn air picking up and twirling brightly colored leaves.
7. The neatly pressed, crisp creases of a young Marine's dress uniform.
8. The delicate combination of a cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar topped apple crisp.
9. The crisp and lively banter of of would be lovers.
10. The crisp clip clop of a horse's hooves on an ice covered avenue as the milkman delivers cream to his early morning customers.
11. The first page of a new journal, crisp, clean and pregnant with possibilities.
12. The layers of crisp crinolines under the debutant's satin gown seemed to float across the dance floor with a rythym of their own.
13. Chicken, fried to a crispy golden brown.

Some "C" words I have used a lot lately:


"C"ute "C"ade

"C"aged "C"hloe

Merry ME

Saturday, April 5, 2008

B is for Boob

Not the breast kind of boob. I mean the kind that knows she has made ABC notes on a particular pad of paper and that pad of paper is somewhere in this house, but still she can't find it.

Boob, blunderbuss, blockhead. That's what I feel like. I've just spent the better part of an hour - the time I should have used writing - looking and re-looking in every spot I could have put said paper. Then, just as I gave up hope, there it was, under the only stool I didn't turn upside down twice.

Blunderbuss is a pretty good "B" word - appropriate and timely. But I woke up this morning think about Winnie the Pooh and his love of balloons, which matches closely my own affection for helium filled laytex smile makers. Even before balloon bouquets became popular I believed that big handfulls of colored balloons with curly ribbon tails would make perfectly lovely surprises that easily say, "I love you!" "I'm sorry," "Happy Birthday!" "Get well," or, as in a story my sweetie recently shared with me, "Will you marry me?"

Get this ... a guy spends a considerable amount of money on an engagement ring he is sure will capture both his true love's eye and heart. He decides a rather unique way of presenting the ring is to put it inside a helium balloon. Well, you know what happened without my even telling you. Yes, before he was able to fall to his knees, declare his undying love, and pop the question, a gust of wind snatched the balloon out of his hand and took it to that place in the sky where all carefree balloons go. Talk about feeling like a blunderbuss!

And that is not the end of the story. Seems that the woman of the man's dreams did not take the news too well that her engagement ring was riding a jet stream of air to unknown destinations. In fact, it turned out their communication styles were totally out of sync. The man soon decided that marriage to this unforgiving woman was not in his romantic stars. Saved by a wayward balloon!

One of my favorite balloon stories is the time when members of our church were asked to pray for and try to cheer up a young man who was unfortunately dying from cancer. His days were numbered. His spirits ebbing. I didn't know the man, but I wanted to do something. I believe that a multitude of prayers can work miracles. However, I felt like the situation called for something more tangible. So I called a flower shop and asked that they deliver a great big bunch of brightly colored balloons. I mean, really, how can you go wrong with a rainbow of inflated laytex? For that particular day and time, the guy was able to forget about his illness and spend some time smiling. I'm really glad I trusted my gut on that one. If you're ever stuck in a situation like this, go ahead - err on the side of balloons.

This same guy's son is in the Army, serving in Afghanistan. We don't know each other, but I've sent a few letters, again, trying to come up with something that might take his mind off the fact that he's so far from home and all the people he loves, and, oh by the way, in the middle of a war zone. How fun would it be to send him some balloons? Maybe he'd share one or two with little brown-eyed Afghan children whom, I'm sure could use a little pick me up. Now that would make me smile.

Here are some other fun "B" words:








balloon belly as in: "I couldn't pronounce Arnold Schwarzenegger, so I called him Balloon Belly."
(Joe Gold)

My favorite "B" people would have to be: the Belchers

Signing off, I'm headed for my "B"ed,

Merry ME

Friday, April 4, 2008

To post or not to post ... that is the question

"Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
there's still time to change the road you're on."
Led Zeppelin

National Blog Posting Month, (NaBloPoMo) the self-proclaimed "epicenter of daily blogging," has come up with a new strategy to keep bloggers blogging every day. This would indicate that I am not the only person who thinks having a computer journal is kind of a neat thing, but is too undisciplined to actually post on a regular basis. I thought blogging was going to be the beginning of my "journal"istic career. Alas, having a career also means having determination, persistence and willingness to work.

I struggled through NaBloPoMo's challenge last November and when the month was over I was both proud of my ability to follow through on my self-imposed commitment, and worried that my vision of life as a writer was a little skewed. I come to understand that serious writers must set aside a time every day to write. Just as serious prayers, set aside time to pray or artists find time to put paint on canvas, there indubitably came a time when even Ernest Hemingway decided he had to put down his bottle of booze, quit gazing out at the Key West sunsets, put the paper in the typewriter and get to writing. Obviously I don't have this "set aside some time" DNA in my genetic makeup.

In an effort to keep daily bloggers blogging every day of the year, not just in November, NaBloPoMo has instituted a theme for each month to give idea-challenged members like me a little boost. "The theme for April is LETTERS ... Love letters, typography, photos of interesting signs -- quite a few possibilities this month!"

Letters .... now this is right up my alley. As I've mentioned in previous posts I have a perfectly delightful affinity for ABC books. I also love writing, sending and receiving real letters. I once proclaimed myself president for life of the now defunct Down With EMail (DWEM) society. [Defunct because the president for life turned into one of those people who can't get too far away from her computer for fear she might miss a cyberspace conversation. I DO NOT, however, know how to text message on my phone, and refuse to learn. I know a addiction waiting to happen when I see one.] I love fancy, embossed stationery. I don't care much for the fact that stamps cost forty-one cents a piece, but I get a distinct pleasure from artistically designed little squares of stickum. And what about a monogrammed wax seal or Scooby Doo sticker? Ooh lala! These are the things that make the good old days of pen and ink communication worth continuing.

Letters ... surely this is a subject I can use to keep up with my blog posting. At times when I had nothing else to do, or had things to do but got sidetracked, I ran through my mind all the things I could write about letters. Then the calendar page changed from March to April. I was late before I even got started. Not an auspicious beginning!

Just when I'd decided to give up the idea of posting every day about letters, and just keep on writing when the muse strikes about whatever the muse suggests, Wendy pointed out that there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, so even though I am getting a late start, I could, if I begin today, still post something every day about each letter. What do you think, should I try it? Is the challenge back on?

"Okay, here goes," she said as she threw caution to the wind and jumped into the wide open space between why and not.

A is for Action ... a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Here are some of my favorite "A" words:

aardvaark ( I know there is only one set of double a's in this word, but just like saying "aard-vaark" is kind of fun, once you start with the aa thing, it's kind of fun to keep going! Did you realize there is also such a thing as an aardwolf? AAparently it resembles a hyenaa!)






My favorite "A" person would have to be: Ashley Megan

One down, 25 to go, wish me luck. And feel free to add your favorite words to the list(s),

Merry ME