Monday, August 31, 2009

New Look ... Part II

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ”
Margaret Mead

Along with the design changes I've made on my blog, I've also added a button. Or maybe it's a gadget. I'm not quite sure of the difference or how exactly to get a button from one blog to another. I've kind of mastered gadget editing so that is how I added the We Can logo to my sidebar.

If you don't ever wander around to the places I suggest that's okay. What I like might not be your cup of tea. But I ask you gently, no.... with a bit of a nudge .... no, with a fervent plea ... to check out Dr. Maithri Goonetilleke's new web site for Possible Dreams International.

I originally found The Soaring Impulse by blog jumping. Once there, when I read of the work this man and his small band of volunteers is doing in Swaziland I want to weep with joy and desire to help too. Seriously Maithri is a doctor, poet, fund raiser, jokester, singer and so much more. You've got to wonder why God gave so many talents to one man. Well, I think it has to be because he knew how big his job was going to be. Though I pray that someday I will make his acquaintance I do not know this gentleman doctor. All I know is what I read and see on his blog.
Please go there and see for yourself what a band of angels looks like.

As for Possible Dreams International, check that site out to. But be prepared for your heart to leap in your chest. I'm pretty sure if you are anything like me your hand will reach for your checkbook at the same time. However, I've got to say I don't really see how my small contribution of a few dollars will help. Bur if everyone thought that way PDI would never get anywhere. This is a sure case of the wisdom of Mother Theresa when she said, “If you cannot feed one hundred people. Feed one.”

In a world that has seemingly gone mad it's hard for all of us to know where to put our hard earned dollars. There are people all over this world who need food, clothes, clean drinking water, health care and medicine, education, and a bomb-free zone in which to live. The needs are so great as to be overwhelming. Still, I suggest if you look around you and reach out your hand in understanding to your neighbor it will be a start. I have no doubt that PDI is a worthy cause. Yet I also believe that there is a cause right there in your own home town that could use your attention. Like Dr. Maithri you might be the angel that someone touches someone's life.

I can. You can. We can.

Please click on either the Soaring Impulse blog or the We Can button. If I did it right you should be able to go right to those places and see for yourself what I'm talking/writing about.

May God bless Maithri, the lives of the people he serves, and you.

Merry ME

New Look

"Life is a process. We are a process. The universe is a process."
Anne Wilson Schaef

Apparently getting this blog to look the way I want it to is also a process.

I'm not even sure why I've been messing with the templates. But it's kind of like starting a new computer game (Jig saw puzzles, Spot the difference, Find the hidden object, etc). Once I get started it's hard to stop. I sit down after dinner, turn the computer on and start playing with the look of this blog instead of writing deep meaningful posts. What's that all about?

Oh well, I'm pretty sure that mixed in with all the fluff up there in my brain there are some deep meaningful thoughts left. I just haven't been in touch with them lately.

Till then I'm wishing for you a day of sunny skies and this sage advice: Don't follow anyone else's template for your life. Make your own.

Merry ME

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kitchen Sink Wisdom

"For most of us, no one provided a more vital link to
our heritage and family history than our grandparents.
The wisdom of our elders is irrefutable."
Jack Levine*

Dad slept in this morning. Sweetie was working in his office. My Romeo cat slept on the back of the couch where I sat with the computer on my lap. The house was quiet. I used the time to check my email and catch up on my favorite blogs. I was particularly delighted by Dani's story at Three Sister's Spirit. You really must go read the tale she told about one woman's less than well-kept home. I laughed out loud and knew that on any given day it might be me whose house looks vandalized. I admit I'm not the best housekeeper in the world.

In her post, Dani's went on to share this piece of her great-grandmother's wisdom: "If you do nothing else each day, at least make sure your kitchen sink is clean and shining, and keep some fresh flowers by the faucet. "

It got me to thinking. I have clear memories of spending time with both my grandmothers. Yet I don't remember any Grammy-isms that made a life-long impression on me. Or mom-isms for that matter. All morning I wracked my brain trying to recall some piece of (grand)parental wisdom. I was blank. For sure my mom said more than once to my sisters and I "If you don't stop that right now I'm going to turn this car around" - what mom hasn't? And she threatened us with bodily harm if we didn't keep our hands to ourselves. Although Dad reminded us to keep mad money (25 cents) in our wallet in case we needed to call home in an emergency "Be prepared" was more a Girl Scout slogan than family motto.

On the way to our weekly lunch with my sister I asked Dad about this. In typical fashion he declared he had no thoughts on the subject. Apparently neither he nor his mother, or my mother used catchy little phases in their child rearing. My sisters agreed. Other than remembering mom's constant desire for "peace and quiet" there was nothing that rang a bell with either of them. Okay, so I was raised by parents who obviously never read Poor Richard's Almanac or Aesop's Fables. I guess I learned more from their actions than their words.

Not quite willing to let the subject go, I began to ponder what words of wisdom I left with my children. Were there any? Other than my underwear neurosis, I can't remember anything in particular. For many years I had a thing about wearing mismatched underwear. It's a take off on the "always wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident" advice. For a time in my life it made perfect sense to me to think that if I was in an accident and paramedics had to cut my clothes off to perform some kind of life-saving technique, everything would come to a screeching halt, my life hanging by a thread, as the EMTs realized my bra and panties did not match and lost all concentration. Perhaps it's way too much information but I can honestly say that today I don't give my undies a whole lot of thought. I am pleased to admit that should I ever need their help emergency technicians will concentrate on my blood pressure and pulse rate more than my fruit of the looms. Does this make me a grown up?

I worry that I have not left my children words to live by. I am concerned that I have failed my granddaughter in some way. I am going to have to give this subject some more serious thought. I need to come up with some Mary-isms so that the people I love will have something to remember me by. Oh, I'm sure they'll remember me fondly (she said smugly). I just want to be sure when they remember me it's as a wise woman full of deep thoughts not some nut case whose undies don't match!

What about you? What wisdom did your grandmother leave for you? What do you say to your kids/grandkids? Feel free to help me out here!

I think I'll go stand in the kitchen and smell the roses.
Merry ME

P.S. You might have already noticed but the picture above was totally staged! I tried to make it look like Dani's. I used a vertical shot so you couldn't see the clutter on either side of the counter!

*Grandmother's wisdom lights our path today
By JACK LEVINE, Published September 10, 2006

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tickled Pink ... con't.

I've had some time to think about it but I'm still not sure I can come up with 7 things you might find interesting about me. My Sweetie says if you ask him he could come up with and endless number. To that I'd have to say the man is not only remarkable but a tad prejudiced.

1. It's pretty obvious that I like to write. Some days it's like there are all kinds of words swirling around in my head and I can't get them out fast enough. Other days there's nothing.

2. I've heard it said that the streets of heaven are paved with gold. I guess there's no way of knowing that until we get there. However, I am pretty sure that prime rib swimming in au jus is served on a regular basis. And for dessert there's bound to be something made of chocolate.

3. Up until this afternoon I was pretty sure my boy cat wanted to marry me. When he is sure that nothing in the room is going to move or make a noise he seeks me out, whispers sweet meows in my ear and marks me as his own. Except for his rakishly long claws which stick in me as a sign of his affection I've come to like his attentions. At dinner tonight Sweetie was proud to tell me he'd had 3 visits from this same fickle feline today. The beast is making progress overcoming his sever fear of humans. Perhaps we'll have a double wedding!

4. I once won a blue ribbon at the St. Mary's County Fair in Leonardtown, MD. for a needlepoint picture of a Native American war chief.

5. I love children's picture books. One of my favorite stories is Stone Soup. I first heard it read by Captain Kangaroo. I've found it is a fable that is told in many countries around the world.

6. One of my most traumatic life events was spending two weeks at Girl Scout camp. That experience sort of clouded my opinion of camping anywhere. That said, I think I could easily spend a few weeks hanging out in the woods. Give me a small cabin in the Smokey Mountains with running water, a fireplace (and a stockpile of cut logs) a microwave, a triple layer of quilts on a soft, comfy mattress and a stack of books to read and I think I could be happy for a good long while.

7. Documentaries have become my new favorite genre of movies.

And there you have it.
Merry ME

Tickled Pink

"Being selected Most Improved was a special individual award
because when I speak to young people
I always try to tell them the importance about
it's not where you start but where you end up. "
Kevin Johnson, NBA player

I started out my last post by telling you of the award(s) I got from Fyrebird. Then, as is often the case, I got lost in some other thought and never mentioned the award again. Please don't think that means I'm not honored. In fact I'm quite puffed up!

Receiving an award for being "Kreativ" from a person whose creativity I admire is quite an honor. Thanks Byrd.

However, it also makes me a little nervous. My immediate thought (after Woohoo, they like me, they really like me!) was am I worthy? I am beginning to realize this nonsense is a broken record that gets played regardless of any success I might have. It doesn't mean as much to me as it once did, but before I can move on I have to beat myself up a little or tease me to keep me in my place.

Also it seems these awards come with a set of rules. Rules scare me. Always have. What if I screw up? I doubt there is blog security system in place to see that each and every award winner proceeds as instructed. In fact I've noticed some of awardees, who are most often free-thinking women, choose to throw caution to the wind and do what they please. By nature I am a not a rule breaker so I will do my best to do as I've been asked to do with this gift.

The Kreativ Blogger award rules are:
1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
Thanks again Mandy.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
Hmmm... I'm going to have to come back to this.
5 and 6. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
I don't know 7 bloggers. But here are some ladies that I think personify creativity. Reading their blogs and admiring their art is how I start my day.

7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

I got this award and was feeling all happy. Then I checked my email and there was another message from Mandy. She "pinked" me!

Once pinked I am supposed to forward the email and roses to 10 ladies with kind, warm and loving hearts. Rules be damned, I seldom if ever forward emails like this. Besides most of the women I would send this bokay to know how I feel about them. If I could I'd send each and every one real live flowers that smell of sweet rosey perfume. If the pink color is a reminder of good breast health, then I encourage all of you ladies out there who read my blog to remember to do your breast exams. And if you want to make someone you know feel special, you can cut and paste this bokay and send it on it's way.

A storm is brewing and I want to post this before the electricity goes out. Ahh, the pleasures of living in Florida!

Feeling gratefully pink,

Merry ME


"Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask.
Everything you want also wants you.
But you have to take action to get it."
Today is my lucky day! I received a blog award and got "pinked." Both gifts came out of the blue from the same blogging friend - Mandy, aka Fyrebird. Remember all that whining I did about never getting an award? What I didn't realize then, was that I just had to wait for the right ones to come along.

I also learned that sitting around waiting is never very fun or easy. It's like the difference between adults and children when waiting for Christmas morning to arrive. Adults scurry around wishing for one more week. Kids, on the other hand, dance around a twinkling tree and beg to shake a box or two.

In the case of the blog award I made a decision not to wait passively. I took some action by putting my own "You Rock" award out there. I have had great fun sending it to people - some bloggers, some not - I, "Queen of the Universe" deem worthy. I think I have enjoyed the giving way more than the getting.

On Saturday last, Sweetie and I had to do our errands under a time constraint. If you know anything about Walmart shopping on a Saturday (before school starts) then you can well imagine that even running in for just one item was going to take awhile. The line at the Customer Service desk was long, but not so long that I didn't think we could get in and out and still make it home in time for my sister to get to her appointment. Of course, just having that thought did something to the atmosphere and everything slowed to a snail's pace.

I'd recently read an article about how to teach your kids patience. One suggestion was to be positive and sunny while waiting in a line instead of getting grumpy. The man in front of me and the kids behind me actually needed this message more than I. I put myself in "la la la" mode and waited. When Sweetie came up to wait with me, I tried to explain to him the value of a sunny disposition and the benefits of an ice cold coca cola while waiting. He took the box to be returned and I ran to MacDonald's to refresh my soda.

The line behind us grew longer, while the line in front barely moved. However, as one person left the register a space opened up so that I could see a suggestion box. What, pray tell, could someone suggest other than having more people on duty, computers that worked, and giving out cash prizes to those who had to wait more than 10 minutes? Sweetie tried to hurry the process by invading the personal space of the grumpy man in front of us. He gave me a scrunched up pouty face when I pulled him back into the 3x3' square that I had designated as our allotted space.

I pointed to the suggestion box and suggested that we leave a note. "What would we say on this note?" my remarkable sweetheart asked as if I had finally totally lost my mind.

"Maybe something like ... thanks for doing such a great job. Or Have a great day," I answered.

Again the "huh????" look crossed Sweetie's face. The little girl behind us cried louder. Her grandmother scowled meaner and the grip around the little one's wrist tightened.

"Maybe we should use one of my business cards," Sweetie said as if he was trying to humor a person with little or no IQ. I thought this a perfectly brilliant idea as his business cards actually say, "attitude is contagious... is your's worth catching." Imagine how the person reading this card is going to feel? A thank you, a reminder of the power of a good attitude, the phone number of a life coach. Why it would be like winning the lottery! You have to admit this is not your run of the mill suggestion for better, faster service.

As we got to the head of the line I did it. I put that card in the suggestion box and smiled at the lady behind the cash register who watched defensively as I dropped it. Sweetie shook his head. In disbelief or wonder? I didn't know and didn't really care. I was doing the happy dance. Our transaction took all of three and one-half minutes. We were out of the store and on our way home. The whole time I was thinking of ways to turn my "You Rock" award into a card that I can hand out to people. Every day people who go about their business thinking nobody notices or cares. I could be like Johnny Appleseed, except instead of planting fruit trees all over the country, I plant smiles. Perhaps from smiles happy hearts grow. And from happy hearts peace and good will. (I realize this could be misinterpreted as delusions of grandeur but still it's a noble idea!)

All that happened and today, in a reversal of fortunes, Mandy sends me an award. Woohoo! I feel like I've just learned one of the secrets of the universe. Give and you will receive I think it says in the Bible. I hope it doesn't sound like blasphemy, plagiarism or both, but I think suggest you try it.

Give what you want away and it will come back to you on angel's wings,
Merry ME

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


[Note: I like to find a quote that goes along with what I'm going to write about. I think I may have stumped even google. There does not seem to be any appropriate quote for "I-hung-out-with-my-exhusband-and-was-surprisingly-very-comfortable-and-at-ease."]

"Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from. I never regret anything that has happened to me in my life, whether it is making a bad choice, deciding to do something I shouldn't have, saying the wrong thing or not doing something I should have done... because all of these things have given me the knowledge I have today and helped make me who I am today... and that is one thing I will never regret." Al Franken

Life can be weird sometimes; take some strange twists and turns. But somehow I believe we always end up where we are supposed to be.

I had an opportunity to spend some time with my ex-husband this weekend. I'm glad to say that the hard times that contributed to the end of our marriage are well behind us. I consider this man to be one of my dearest friends. Certainly I've known him longer than most people in my life.

Waiting for his plane to arrive I was able to laugh about the circuitous route he took from Boston to Jacksonville. Seems he had a rather long layover in Miami he hadn't prepared for. This man was a Naval aviator who could maneuver a helicopter over a roiling carrier deck on a pitch dark night. He could find his way around most countries in the world with one simple sentence - uno mas cervesa, por favor. It makes me laugh to think he had trouble getting from Massachusetts to Florida. Amazing isn't it what used to drive me crazy (as if I was any better) now make me laugh? What a difference a few years can make.

As he stood on the sidewalk waiting for me to swing in, pick him up and swing back into traffic before the baggage police started blowing whistles and waving me on, I wondered if I'd even recognize the man. How can you not recognize a man you were married to for 20 years, the man you had children with? I needn't have worried. I knew who he was the minute I saw him.

Is there proper etiquette for greeting an exhusband? Do you shake hands? Hug? Kiss? On the lips? He leaned right in for a kiss. I turned my head a little too fast and placed my lips somewhere near his earlobe. But I car was moving so it didn't feel too awkward.

We exchanged pleasantries. How was the flight? How was Miami? Where is your mustache? I said to him. He responded politely then cut right to the chase.

"Are you happy?" he asked. It wasn't a question I was prepared for. Yet, I didn't really have to stop to think. "Yes" I told him with all the confidence I could muster, considering I live in a rather depressed environment and had recently spent half a day under my covers crying like a baby. But all things considered, except for the possible need for medication adjustments, I am happy. Much happier than those last few years we were married. So is he.

I believe clinical depression, like alcoholism, is a family disease. And like the Cymbalta ad on TV says, depression does hurt. It hurts the whole family. Looking back we had our problems as any marriage does. But I blame my depression for the demise of our relationship. We tried counseling and weekends away. We tried ignoring the problem and railing against it. Bottom line you can't have a relationship when one of the participants is fighting for her life. For that period in time, though I could have won an award as Co-dependent of the year, it was all about ME. No relationship can survive that. Well, maybe some can, but I haven't heard of it.

I took him to the home of long time friends. I thought I'd get to see the whole family but because we were late just one of the birthday girls, and her brood, was still up. Like the recent visit with my nieces, it was deja vu-ish to see this grown woman with kids of her own. What happened to the bald headed twin babies? The High School cheerleaders? Where did the years go?

We sat around the table, raised a glass of wine (or beer or Coke) to the olden days. It felt so good - so comfortable - to be in the midst of this group again. People I have loved for over 40 years, who let me go my own way for awhile and kept the light burning so I'd have a place to return to. I listened as a few tales of bygone days were told, but mainly I sat in the peaceful glow of friendship where no words are even needed.

Then it was time to go. Like Cinderella, my time away from my domestic/caregiving chores was running out. Thank God I had a trusty new steed I could count on to get me home safely. I drove down dark roads lined with moss encrusted oak trees. I've watched enough spooky movies to know that a woman shouldn't drive alone on deserted roads like that. I probably should have been afraid. Instead I was wrapped in a feeling of contentment I haven't known for awhile.

I thought back to times past. I thought about who I was then and who I am now. I turned on the radio and laughed as Bonnie Tyler blared at top volume:

(Turnaround) Every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you're never coming around (Turnaround) Every now and then I get a little bit tired of listening to the sound of my tears (Turnaround) Every now and then I get a little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by ......

Twenty five years ago "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was one of my theme songs. With each whispered, "turn around" that was sung, I waited (in my head) for my husband to turn around and see me, find me, hold me, save me. I may have been depressed, but I never lacked for drama!

As the song continued I remembered what day it was. I was within hours of an anniversary I thought I'd never forget. Was it a memory or godwink? Could it have been God's way of calling my attention to my blessings rather than my burdens? The day after the twin's birthday all those years ago (Aug. 23, 1983 or 84) was the day I thought I'd hit what people call bottom and decided I couldn't stand the pain anymore. The events of that day played in fast forward rather than slow motion. I could see the event for what it was - not a desire to die but a desire for the pain to end. When one is "living in a powder keg and giving off sparks" all they really want is to stop hurting inside.

Driving on that dark road just me and the music and my memories was kind of like making a memory stew. Good times, good people and a few heartaches mixed together with the spices of life - laughter, love, hopes and dreams - sprinkled with the salt of tears. Can you believe all this happened in the span of just a few hours?

I got home in time to put drops in Dad's eyes and tuck him into bed. I couldn't wait to lie beside my Sweetie and revel in my blessings. Mostly my heart was full of gratitude. Gratitude not regret. I am who I am today because I survived the bumpy roads and the trials. Even when it felt like I was alone, I was - I am- surrounded by people who loved me. It doesn't get much better than that. I'm a lucky girl.

Wishing for you a memory stew,
Merry ME

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Difference Between Boys and Girls

While the we and the vacationers were at the Olive Garden eating our farewell dinner a quick but torrential storm blew over. Upon leaving the restaurant the children, being children, discovered a cascade of water coming off the roof. Although Chloe didn't stay completely dry, I think these photos clearly show the chromosomal differences between boys and girls. There is something about that XY pairing that makes anything wet, muddy, loud, creepy, fast-moving, and/or stinky just about as much fun as Christmas morning! See for yourself.

"A child reminds us that playtime is an essential part of our daily routine."

"Her smile beams like sunshine, which fills our hearts with love."
Birgit B.
I rest my case,
Merry ME

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cat Love

"In the beginning, God created man, but seeing him so feeble,
He gave him the cat."
Warren Eckstein
Yesterday was a long day. Just when I thought I couldn't cry or sleep anymore, I closed the book I was trying to read through swollen, puffy eyelids and rolled back over into what I thought would be la la land. Sweetie lay beside me, lulling me to sleep with the rythym of his pretzel crunching. His reading light was tilted away from me, yet it still shone like a beacon lighting up the room. I pulled the covers over my head in the time tested way of darkening my space.
Most nights the cats wait for us to get settled before they come in and get themselves comfortable. Girl Cat, aka Cry Baby, and more recently Fatty Catty, is not the least bit shy. She leaps on the bed with the greatest of ease, walks the path between Sweetie's legs and mine, ducks under - or over- my book, and plops herself down across my chest. Once there, she closes her eyes and falls into a deep sleep without giving me a second glance. I am, apparently, her pillow.
On the other hand, Boy Cat, aka Scaredy Cat, has a totally different approach. He waits for the room to be silent, for the dog to get settled, and for the sounds of Sweetie adjusting his pillows to quiet down. Then like a Navy Seal invading a terrorist bunker, he stealthily (a word?) enters the room. He sits beside my night stand and stares at me. Like most felines, his patience was born generations ago on some Serengheti plane. Waiting for a gazelle to approach the watering hole, or for me to turn just right so that there is a minisucle piece of mattrass where he can curl up, the black one watches for his opportunity to pounce.
Once in front of my book, he lets out a tiny little meow, then begins to mark me as his own personal territory. This process is repeated as many times as Sweetie sneezes, the dog enters or leaves the room, a car goes by outside, or Girl Cat gives her brother the evil eye.
Eventually the lights are turned out. Sweetie and I kiss goodnight, turn to our respective sides and fall asleep. In the last few weeks, I've noticed Girl Cat squeezes her rather large belly into the space between our pillows without making a sound or disturbing either of the human sleepers. Boy Cat is long gone as all he really wants to do is be satisfied he knows where everyone is.
Because this scene plays itself out almost every night, I was not surprised when Girl Cat jumped up on bed. I was startled, however, by the sound she was making. Not quite a growl, or a purr. Not even her regular sounding baby meow. No, this sound was more like, "Hey guys, look what I brought you ... it's a prize for sure. Come on, look here."
I opened half an eye and turned my focus to the end of the bed. Sure enough there was the cat proudly standing guard over her brown, 8-legged gift. In Florida these grotesque insects are called Palmetto bugs. Most every where else they are know as roaches. They are drawn to the Floridian dampness. I suspect once the lights are out at night, they come out and have a party running through the kitchen looking for palmetto bug treats left on the floor. I have placed roach hotels in every nook and cranny of the house. Still they come, unafraid of man or beast or repellant chemicals.
I've seen the cats chase bugs or lizards but I rarely see them catch one. I believe the fun is in the chase. So I was a little surprised by She Cat's presentation of her catch. Is it possible that she was aware of how I'd been feeling all day and was just offering up some catlike sympathy? Is it possible that in the world of cats, that dropping a winged Palmetto bug, turned up on its back, with his whiskered legs moving in all directions on your bed is another way of saying, "there, there, everything is going to be okay?"
I used to be afraid of the beastly bugs. I still don't like them. Who would, except for another roach? I've learned to smash the guts out of these disgusting creatures just like my mom used to. In fact each time I stand poised, flip flop raised over my head ready to move in for the kill, I have a vision of my mom. Whack! She knew how to wield her rubber shoe to get the most effect.
Unafraid, but still not wanting to sleep with this crawly thing, I grabbed a tissue to encase the bug and deposit him in the toilet. Dang if it didn't move. Shit! It moved! This is a totally different story. There is now a live creepy bug - call it a roach or a Palmetto bug, either way it's way creepy - in our bed. He zips straight for the open space up the leg of Sweetie's drawers.
"He's on you!" I scream. He's on you!" Sweetie looks up from the page he's reading, with little or no care. Good God Almighty, there is a roach about to crawl up his shorts and he just lies there.
"He's on you!" I scream with a bit more gusto. The bug makes a hasty detour and dives for cover under one of the pillows or the blanket. I can't tell which. I'm screaming and waving a Kleenex and pounding the bed. The cat is rather upset to find her prize is gone. Sweetie is robotically moving in slow motion.
"Dammit, he's on you!" I yell once more. This time my shouting convinces Sweetie to hop out of bed. I see the little bugger, stopping to catch his breath and decide which way to run - towards the open jaws of the killer kat, towards the pretzels or towards MY pillow. At the very thought of sleeping where this creature had trod I became the angel of death. I moved in, squished that sucker at least to a point of unconsciousness and ran him to the toilet.
All this happened in a relatively short period of time. My depressed and weary body came to life which was a sign that I wasn't as far gone as I thought just a few minutes before.
I walked back to the bedroom, looking for the cat. She raced down the hall in the opposite direction. I yelled after her. "UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO EVER DO THAT AGAIN," I scolded as if she was going to take my words to heart.
I warily approached the bed, my skin still crawling from the very thought of the nastiness. Then Sweetie started laughing. He sat down on the now bugless bed and had himself a good belly laugh. "He's on you, he's on you" he chortled, mocking my concern for his private parts. Not sure what was so funny, I watched and listened to the man I love laugh.
There is something delightfully recuperative about the sound of laughter. I needed to hear that particular music before I went to sleep.
I don't really believe that the silly cat had that whole scenario planned out when she jumped on the bed with her prize. She's a cat - not a psychologist or intuitive. Just a furry black feline doing what felines do. Still, I have to wonder.
There was an article in todays paper about training a dog to detect a diabetic's drop in blood sugar just by the smell. I'm not sure if it is possible that my cat sensed my blues and decided to drop a roach on the bed as a way to pull me out of myself. Regardless, I slept soundly and awoke refreshed for the first time in weeks.
My new motto: Don't look a gift "roach" in the mouth. It might just make you laugh.
Merry ME

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Tracks of my Tears

"Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it."
Albert Smith

I've been feeling tired for a week. I've been on the verge of tears since the visitors left. I've been feeling at sixes and sevens, whatever that means. I've been thinking it was all related to a change of pace I'm not used to. Is it possible I've turned into that much of a wimp?

Today, after a rather stressful morning, the tears came. Like the wolf at the door of the three little pigs, I've been expecting them. As usual, they brought with them an overwhelming desire to hide in my room, under the covers.

Dad and I had words. Not bad words or mean words. Just a string of miscommunications. I tried not saying anything for fear of saying the wrong thing. I listened as Dad talked of his pain and sadness.

"Yeh, but what about me?" my inner child blubbered. Through my tears and my weariness I tried to reassure both the child and my father. Not really knowing what either of them needed, only that to speak would be cause more pain for everyone.

I lie here in my darkened room. I call it the cave. It's painted a dark, mossy green. I think sometimes I should lighten the color to make it more cheerful. I always come back to how much I like it the way it is - strangely comforting. With the birds chirping in the azalea bushes outside the window and the overhead fan gently rustling the curtains, it's kind of like a forest refuge.

The cats have joined me. They check out my tear stained cheeks - smell and taste the salt. One settled down beside me, the other was put off by the computer. The dog is on the floor next to the bed. She, too, was unset this morning. Too many people knocking on the front door, making their way back to Dad's room to see what was going on. Her heavy snoring tells me she's glad for the quiet now.

Dad is also asleep. The pain medication has done its job. If I think about him, I'll start to cry again. I'm confused. I'm his daughter and his caregiver. I get the two personas mixed up. When he asks to see Judy and Jean before 9 am I hear the fear in his voice. I ask what's going on. He barks some order. The daughter retreats, pushing the caregiver to the forefront.

The caregiver is matter-of-fact, no-nonsense, get-the-job-done. The daughter grieves. The daughter's feelings get hurt. The daughter's facade breaks and she begins to cry. The last thing the nurse says as she leaves the house is, "Mary, you've got to quit this crying." She didn't mean it as a critisism. She was stating a fact. How many times in my life have I said the very same thing?

I called the endocrinologist. Had to leave a message.
I called the psychologist. He's on vacation.
I called my Sweetie. He held my hand and prescribed 2 Tylenol. Perhaps a nap is in order.

Mandy wrote in her blog today about her "natural ability to get on with myself."* I can relate to that. Like Dad's dying, it is a process I must go through.

Not feeling so merry,
*, Walking At Night, 8/18/09

What's in a Name?

"Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort
of feeling safe with a person -
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all right out,
just as they are, chaff and grain together;
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping,
then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life, 1859

[Note from ME: When I started writing this blog I tried to protect the identity of people I was writing about. It's one thing for me to spill my guts and something else again to write about people who may or may not want to be mentioned - at least by name. So I've given most of the people of whom I write a pseudonym. Nothing too highly veiled. If you know me you probably know who I'm writing about. For some reason that I can no longer even recall, I chose to refer to the main man in my life, my SO (significant other), my main squeeze, my paramour as "Sweetie. "
Personally I like it. But I wonder if makes people think he is kind of girly. For the record, my man is not a girly man. He does use a little more hair spray than I do, but this is only because he wants his hair to stay neatly coiffed, not flip out in all directions like mine. Perhaps I should have given him a more manly fake name like "Studmuffin" or Ranger (of Janet Evanovich book fame).
I could refer to him in writing as I do in person - Jackson. Or I could go back to when we first met and call him Capt. Jack.

But what is in a name? A sweetie by any other name is still as sweet. I've asked him what he wants to be called, and his silly response is always the same, "don't call me late for dinner." On that note I'll stick with Sweetie, until something else strikes my fancy. [Photo: A man and his new weed-wacker. Does it get any better than that?]
Now on to the point of this post:
What I failed to say in my previous message was how supportive Sweetie was throughout the week my family was visiting. He and I have a pretty tight connection, but he hasn't spent enough time with my extended family to know them well. Last week, I think, went a long way in including Sweetie to the craziness I call family. Perhaps now he'll have a better idea why it is so important to me to settle someday in the NW. I even think maybe, if it's possible, having family visit helps him to "get" me better.

When Sweetie and I hooked up we pledged our lives to each other, but we didn't say much about our extended families. To me it was a given - kind of all or nothing. You want me, you get some dysfunctional baggage, and vice versa. I'd moved OUT of my dad's house for the 2nd time in my life, not really expecting to ever be invited back in. But here I am. Here we are. Sweetie convinced me to come back, that we could do this Dad thing together.

About the time we moved in my love was stricken by some pretty serious health issues and laid off from his job. Although both could be looked at as negatives, Sweetie used the opportunity to do what he always wanted to do, become a life coach.

As he learned about relationships in general, we learned a lot about our relationship in particular. Our partnership, plus my Dad, plus my sister, plus 2 couch-peeing cats, plus a car that periodically broke down, plus a couple depressive episodes, plus death, plus a really crappy economy and job market. As we learned, we grew. He grew. I grew. And like two trees on opposite sides of the street stretching towards the light, our branches intertwined, while our roots held us firmly in one spot.

I'm really proud of this man I call Sweetie. Sometimes I don't think he gives himself enough credit. Perhaps by the standards by which society judges a person's manhood and by his own bar, which is often set pretty high, he has fallen short of the mark. Is a man's job what he's all about?

Would I like for him to have a job? Sure.

But not as a measure of his worth. I'd like to see him outside this house, out in the world, touching other lives the way he's touched mine. If he could get paid for that hoorah. Mainly he's got too much to offer to sit in this house and while away the hours.

Has he tried to get a job? Sure.

Unfortunately he's got the same strikes against him that many people are facing in today's job market - his age and his years of experience to name just a couple. The same things that once made him a good employee are the things that work against him now. Is younger better or just cheaper?

The day is going to come when this man of mine is going to either find employment or win the lotto. Until that day comes, he's taken the high road. Once the school year begins anew he will go back to volunteering for Junior Achievement. It's no small feat to don a wizard costume and go into a middle or high school class and speak of dreams, integrity, and ethics to kids who have already given up on dreams and have no idea what personal integrity even means.

Recently Sweetie became a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). In a child protective system full of lawyers, foster parents, social workers, judges, doctors and teachers, a GAL stands up for and speaks for the child. It's all confidential, but I watch as Sweetie pours over case studies and listens to case managers tell stories of kids who, through little fault of their own, have never really had a chance to be kids.

After a week of hearing children sounds in our house I suggested we "get" a baby to play with. My love glanced at the stack of notebooks on his desk and said we could adopt. As he said that I realized that each of "his" kids has a story. A story contained in a three ring binder and maybe a small satchel that they carry from foster home to foster home. Some of them might be considered "lost" causes. Some may still be helpable. All of them will turn 18 one day and age out of a system that is crowded, under-equipped and underfunded.

In the mean time there is a man I know who takes his volunteer job seriously. Even when the odds are against him and the child he works has little to believe in this man will do what he does best. He'll care. He'll be present. He'll listen.

When life is too much for me to handle and I need a refuge from the storm I've discovered there is a place I can go where I'll never be turned away. All I have to do is walk into my Sweetie's office and close the door. He looks up from his computer and smiles; then he folds his hands and waits. Waits for whatever it is I have to say. Sometimes he'll hand me a tissue from across the desk. Mostly he just listens. And when I'm finished with whatever rant I'm, he stands up, closes the distance between us and holds me in his arms.

There are probably a million other things I could call this man. But for now Sweetie is as Sweetie does.

I am blessed.

Merry ME

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Vacation is Over

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged
to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
Nelson Mandela defines vacation as "a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel." Clark Griswold (aka Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's 1983 movie Vacation) calls it a "quest for fun."as in "I'm gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much f*#!*!g fun we'll need plastic surgery to remove our gd smiles."

The West coast vacationers who just spent a week here in sunny (except for the late afternoon and middle of the night thunder storms) Florida might not have had much rest or relaxation, but they had plenty of travel. And fun? While I hope they enjoyed themselves, fun is mostly in the eye of the beholder, don't you think?

For the parents of six-year old twins traveling cannot be easy. If it was just the kids it might be a breeze. However, unlike the children who crossed the country in a covered wagon with a pair of hand-me-down shoes on their feet and a hat to keep the sun off their faces, modern day travel tykes come fully equipped with their own fully-loaded suitcase, backpack, comfort item du jour, and car seat. This basically turns mom and dad into a pair of pack mules before they ever leave their driveway. Returning home is just as loaded, plus it also includes a few souveniers and a bucket's worth of sand!

On the other hand, my sister manages to get everything she needs for a week away from home in one pint-sized carry-on bag. She is a packing wizard. Watching her unpack is a little like watching one of those tiny cars in the circus that unloads a bunch of clowns. You gotta wonder how it all fits in. [Photo: The 3 Cheaters reunited!]

Its been a long time since this house has been full of the laughter (and tears) of little ones. It's been a long time since we needed to extend the dining table into the living room to make a place for everybody. It's been too long since there were so many conversations going at once that I was afraid I'd miss something.

I remember a time when my mom sat at the head of the table, watching and listening as her family gathered around. I always wondered what was going on behind her quiet, smiling eyes. Now I think I might know. It's a contented, homey feeling. One that I relish.

It is a little weird, however, to see how the generations have changed. Mom is no longer here. Dad seemed content to watch the festivities rather then join in and be provacative. My sister and I shared the matriarch position as we watched her daughters and grandchildren take the place of the little ones we remembered. It's deja vuish to say the least.

Even as things change, many things remain the same. For our family a constant barrage of picture taking is always in order. It used to be my father who would arrange everyone on the couch, count to three and demand that everyone, including the children who had made it known that they'd already posed for one too many photos, smile by saying "cheese" or "whiskey"or "booger" of something else that might turn tears into a flash bulb's moment of laughter.

I'm also pretty sure there was enough food for everyone. It seems like every time we turned around we were eating. As with every family get together, the vacationers feasted on lots of homemade comfort food. We also ate an inordinant amount of treats - Little Debbies, S'mores, Carrot cake and ice cream cake.

Around the table, or in the pool or wherever the most people congregated there was all kinds of conversation. When Father/Brother Georges was in the house we even gently touched on Middle Eastern politics and religion, which can be heated subjects in any family . Joe told some classic FBI stories. Michele shared tales from the ER. At the end of every hot day we all fell into our beds tired yet expectant for tomorrow's adventure.

And then, as if in the blink of an eye, it was over. We stood outside the Olive Garden and said out goodbyes. Everyone was leaving early in the morning. The vacation was ending. I might have hugged my sister too tight. My inner child was crying, "please don't go." I looked at my nieces and wondered how long it might be and what changes there would be in their lives before we see each other again. I thought back to the time they were small, when a different generation of cousins vacationed together in this same town. Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Here's how Sweetie summed it up: "the house on Noble Circle South saw laughter, joy, tears, praise. The family has had one more visit with 'grampy,' and all is well in our respective parts of the country. Sad to see you go; Hoping to see you all again soon."

I know the travelers must have been happy to get home and back to their routine. As soon as they departed I fell into an energy-deprived funk, as if I'd been the one to spend hot summer days at the beach, or the zoo, or St. Augustine. Without the noise and excitement I feel the need to sleep for days on end. Physical or emotional? Probably a combination of the two. But it didn't take long to realize the truth of the saying, "Not having children makes less work—but it makes a quiet house."*

Here's hoping it won't be too long before we are all together again.
Merry ME

*From Trifles, a one act play by Susan Glaspell, 1916

P.S. I've tried to fix the spacing but it seems to have a mind of it's own. I give up!

Friday, August 14, 2009

And then there were FIVE

"You don't choose your family.
They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."
Desmond Tutu

Big changes occurred yesterday in the Wichansky family. In an instant Elliot and his sister Alice appeared in the world and nothing will ever be the same. Friends and family have been standing by waiting for all these months. The time for excited hand-wringing is now over. Now those of us who love this family need to roll up our sleeves and pitch in. There will be lots to do: feed, hold, and rock the new babies, entertain Big Sister Ivy Jane, cook dinners, wash clothes, and finish building the basement, i.e. the nursery! It's hard for me to imagine how one mother and one father can possibly do everything that needs to be done in the coming days. But this is a "can-do" couple. They've stared hardship in the face and still managed to smile. They are surrounded by people who love them and are willing to help. And people like me who live too far away to be hands on can send happy thoughts and prayers.

When Big Sis Ivy Jane was born last year I published a post that I think is worthy of repeating. [Sometimes I surprise myself when I go back and read something I've written and find I think it's really good.] Here's what I said then and, except for changing the names, I believe still fits:

To their parents, extended family and friends, Elliot and Alice are unique. No one just like them will ever be born again. That is miracle enough.

Yet, like all newborns, the twins came into the world bearing a single message. Every child that is born knows the secret of life. The problem is by the time we're grown most of us have forgotten it. Sadly we stay too busy, we focus our attention on other things, and consider "secrets" to be the purview of children.

In those last few nano-seconds before Elliot and Alice took thier first breath, however, the Creator of all things good, whispered in her ear.

"Love, my precious little one, love," the Great One said, "that's all you need to know."

And so it is. For when all else fails:
Love is the key that will unlock the mystery.
Love is the salve that will heal all wounds.
Love is the gift that surpasses gold or jewels.
Love is the power that can harness any storm.
Love is the first tulip that blooms in the spring.
Love is the rainbow after a shower.
Love is smile on stranger's face and the spots on an old man's hands.
Love is the wind that whistles through the trees.
Love is the tide that never stops to ask why.
Love is galloping across the open plain on a spotted horse.
Love is the wild Montana sky.
Love is sleeping in your daddy's arms.
Love is the pride in your mother's eyes when you win your first spelling bee.
Love is the dread that fills your parents' hearts when they hand you the car keys for the first time.
Love is the sand and the sea and dolphins dancing in the waves.
Love is what the meadowlark sings.
Love is what comes wrapped up in Christmas paper.
Love is the purr of a kitten or a slobbery wet dog kiss.
Love is saying hello after a long day at work;or saying goodbye after a life well lived.
Love is cheering for your favorite football team even when they aren't so good.
Love is saying thank you.
Love is being patient when learning how to tie you shoes.
Love is that rush of excitement at the top of a roller coaster.
Love is reading a good book, taking a bubble bath, or walking in the rain.
Love is holding someone's hand when there are no words to say.
Love is talking to your mom on the phone.
Love is eating an Oreo cookie.

Love is a new pair of shoes and fancy French socks.
Love is a hot cup of tea or a glass full of ice cold lemonade.
Love is climbing a mountain or standing on level ground.
Love is warm, flannel pajamas or a soft, cuddly onesie.
Love is playing hopscotch on a summer afternoon.
Love is catching fireflies later that same evening.
Love is roasting marshmellows and making s'mores.
Love is salmon swimming upstream, penguins standing on a block of ice, and being brave in the face of a getting vaccination.
Love is glint of sunshine on an icicle covered tree.
Love is swinging on a tire swing.
Love is homemade apple pie or gingerbread men.
Love is getting a letter from an old friend.
Love is getting help lugging your groceries to the car.
Love is a big red balloon.
Yes, indeed, love is all this and more ......

Each of us has been given this gift by the Creator. But, like I said before, as grown ups we sometimes forget to remember love is reason we're here. On August 13, 2009 Elliot and Alice became our reminders; messengers of sorts. It's a big job for two little ones, but what else does a baby have to do? Even though they are too small to speak the word, their eyes will reflect love. Their hands will reach for love. Their lips will cry for love. And their ears will listen for love. Our job is to take good notes and [re]learn the message, for it is ageless and endless.

Welcome to the world little ones.
Thank you for the precious reminder of the glory of love.
Be well.
Be happy.
Be at peace.
May you always and forever know love and show love.
I can't wait to see you in person. Til then I send you, and your big sister and your mom and dad a great big hug.

Merry ME aka Grammy Mary

Welcome to the World, Little One ... Part 2

"A baby will make love stronger,
days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller,
home happier, clothes shabbier,
the past forgotten, and the future worth living for."




8:27 AM

Welcome to the World, Little One ... Part I

"A new baby is like the beginning of all things-wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities."
Eda J. Le Shan



8:26 am

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wounded Warrior Project, Part 2

"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. "
Elmer Davis
I was able to get one more quilt made before my sister arrived. I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. But more than that I'm feeling a big old heart full of gratitude for the soldiers who are going to be honored at the retreat coming up in September (See July 26 post.) Not just those soldiers, but soldiers in general.
I try to imagine a world where peace reigns. A world where mothers and fathers would no longer have to hug their children goodbye and send them into harms way. Where fear wouldn't keep wives and children awake at night. Where women would be safe to pursue their dreams and old men would not have nightmares of battles fought in their youth. Where testosterone-filled boys could compete with soccer balls, calculators, or rocket ships instead of AK-47's and IED's. Where govenments could spend money improving the minds and souls of their people instead of creating weapons of mass destruction. Where doctors could treat flu bugs or find a cure for cancer instead of patching up broken bodies. Where cities could build parks instead of cemetaries.
I know. I know. I'm a dreamer.
When I make a quilt I like to think about my patchwork making foremothers who turned an item of necessity into an art form. I think about the person who might curl up under the quilt I'm sewing and dream their own personal dreams.
There's a lot of love that goes into the making of a quilt. I'm honored to pass it on to someone I don't even know who sacrificed so much for ME.
Blessings and peace,
Merry ME

On Vacation .... sort of

"A vacation frequently means that the family
goes away for a rest,
accompanied by a mother
who sees that the others get it.
Marcelene Cox

It's been awhile since my last post. I've had a few ideas of things to write about but few moments to write them. Most of last week was spent in an intensive cleaning marathon getting ready for company. Funny, I thought I'd covered every square inch of the house with a dust cloth dripping in Pledge. I looked up, last night at dinner and noticed I completely missed the cob webs on the chandelier over the dining room table. Oh well! The pins are out of the carpet which I consider a definite cleaning coup, especially after all the sewing I did.

My sister, her daughters, two of her grandchildren and her son-in-law arrived for a short visit on Sunday night. The trip from the west coast is always a killer. It takes all day and a couple of plane changes to get here. Once you arrive and have had time to stretch your legs out to their normal size, get reacquainted with people you haven't seen in forever, and found something decent to eat to stop the gurgling in your stomach it's time to go to be. Only problem is your body is still on PST. It thinks it's only 8pm. That usually means you go to bed, lie awake tossing and turning then fall into a deep sleep about the time you thought you were going to get up and start the vacation. Sometime around 5:00 the next day, your body time and the real time begin to get into a rhythm that works. When there are 6 travelers, two of them only 6 years old, this time delay can spell trouble. Miraculously, so far so good!

It's been a long while since this old house has had so many people in it. The children are particularly shy, but fun to watch. There are so many conversations going, not to mention cameras flashing, that it's hard to know which direction to lean my ear. I don't want to miss anything.

And then there is the food. Even though I stocked the larder quite well before the visitors came, I believe someone has been to the grocery store every day, sometimes twice. There are family favorites to stock up on (clam dip, nuts and bolts, and Little Debbies), specialty foods (spicy hummus, S'mores and Pale Ale), birthday requests (Carrot cake and Baskin Robbins Mint chocolate chip log roll), milk, cheese and fruit. Yesterday Dad rose to the occasion and smoked a turkey. It was an all day process requiring extra hands and some pain medication, but well worth it. I should have been taking notes as I doubt he'll being doing it again.

Yesterday the gang went to the beach; today they are baking themselves at the zoo. It is a time to be grateful for a swimming pool in the back yard - a place to float and stay cool. When everyone is here, the walls vibrate with conversation, personality and family. When the gang leaves at night to go back to the hotel, the quiet that settles over the house makes me feel lonelier than before. I fall into bed grateful for the rest, yet my mind tries to guess what's going on across town in the La Quint Inn. Am I missing something?

Sweetie is outside sitting on the steps to the pool. It looks too inviting to ignore. Don't worry, I'll be back. And I'll bring pictures! Nothing like a good slide show of vacation pictures to put everyone right to sleep!

Sweet vacation dreams!
Merry ME

Monday, August 3, 2009

Young at Heart

"I can think of no better way of redeeming
this tragic world today than love and laughter.
Too many of the young have forgotten how to laugh,
and too many of the elders have forgotten how to love.
Would not our lives be lightened
if only we could all learn to laugh more easily at ourselves
and to love one another."
Theodore Hesburgh

Sweetie and I watched a documentary a few nights ago that I think should be required of everyone who reaches a certain age. The problem might be in deciding what the age should be ... 50. 60. 75?

At 57 I'm on the slippery slope side of middle age, looking straight at being old. Or am? Someone said, and I believe it's true, that old age is a state of mind. The movie, Young at Heart, was pretty much a commentary on the power of not giving into the aches and pains and problems of being old. If you haven't seen it rent it soon.

I've known several people of advanced age in my lifetime. Some embrace their golden years with dignity and humor, other rage against their aches and pains and everyone around them. Some have smiled right up to the end, while others have moaned more out of frustration than anything else. It's got to be hard being old; harder still to fight the inevitable.

My dad's mom, lived to be 96. I didn't see her much at the end of her life . I know she ended up lying in bed in a great deal of pain. Still, when I think of her I remember a woman who loved the little things in life - red birds, dogwood blossoms, a phone call from her son, prayers, and letters from her grandchildren. She was a woman of faith; a woman I'd like to be like.

Dad inherited his longevity from his mom's side of the family. He does act particularly grateful for this genetic gift. Living long is one thing, outliving your spouse and friends is another. I believe Dad would rather look forward to the reunions he'll have in heaven than expend his limited energies in the here and now. I can't say I agree with him, but I'm well aware that I'm not the one walking in his shoes.

That being said, yesterday I had a glimpse of the young man Dad used to be. The women of the church gave a party in honor of the "Super and Super Sonic Seniors" (congregants in their 80s and 90's). The group of honorees was almost bigger than those doing the honoring. It was quite splendid to look at these people I've known for so long and see them enjoying the celebration.

Besides a birthday cake and the requisite potluck fare - potato salad, carrot salad, cole slaw and a pickle tray - the room was festooned with balloons and banners. Pictures had been collected from when the seniors were juniors. It was great fun to see the the gray headed people we love now with that spark of youth in their eyes, and no wrinkles or pain lines etched in their faces. Another highlight was the karaoke singer. Men and women of a certain age get a little misty eyed when songs like "I left my heart in San Francisco" or "Danny Boy" or some other ditty made famous by "old Blue eyes" are sung by a music loving man with a Filipino accent.

I watched closely to make sure my Dad didn't get too tired. Just about the time I thought he was ready to leave, I was informed he couldn't go until he'd danced with his girlfriend, Deborah. The two had been making eyes at each other all through church, so I sat back and waited for the next slow song to play, uncertain as to how my dad was going to twirl both Deb and his walker around on the dance floor.

I needn't have worried. As the music began to play, about 40 years fell off my father's legs. His standing up was a little shaky but after that he took Miss Deborah in his arms and danced. And sang!

I've been quite pissed off at my father lately. He's stung me with words and cut my already scarred heart open again. But all of that kind of faded away as I watched an old man who happens to be my father smile at a pretty woman who takes the time to pay attention to him. She didn't just fall off a turnip truck. She's cared for old people. She knows Dad is probably an old poot. Still, because she isn't lassoed by dysfunctional family ties, she can gently reach out to the person behind the gruffness in ways that I cannot. I love to see my dad smile. If Deborah can make him feel like smiling even for a few minutes, then it's worth it.

Perhaps that's what struck me most about Young @ Heart. The men and women in the choir had all seen better days. Days with less pain, less fear, more get up and go. In my opinion, the difference between them and other old people who aren't so happy about aging is that they sing songs and keep smiling.

I'm no scientist or doctor of geriatrics. I have no idea why some people live a long time and others don't. I am curious about why some old people embrace each day as it comes and others cuss the dawn. But something tells me, it all has to do with the smile.

My prayer is that even when I am sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of an adult day care center and can't remember my own name, I'll still remember to smile.

May this day and many tomorrows give you reason to smile,
Merry ME

P.S. Just for fun go here and enjoy!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Three Cheers For Molly

"Appreciation is a wonderful thing.
It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well."

Back on July 7th I wrote a whiny kind of a post about not feeling as good as other bloggers because I don't have a sidebar full of awards to show off. I ended with this bit of self-indulgent wisdom twaddle: "My new motto: If you don't get an award, give one. I'm going to start thinking about my own award to give out. Probably I'll start with me!!!!!"

One of my friends from the blogosphere, Molly appeared just like a fairy godmother and offered to help me. That means she did all the work and I looked on in awe and wonder. All I really had to do was say "that's perfect!" which I did after her 2nd attempt. And it was only her second try because I changed my mind mid-stream!

I am honored and pleased and very grateful to unveil the

Merry ME You Rock! Award for Excellence

[Drum roll please!]

Is that cool or what?

The award was born out of a need to encourage a young girl of long ago. To let her know that, she was doing a great job of being her. She was worthy. She mattered. I didn't know how to tell her then, but I do now.

Now that I have an award to give, I have to admit I'm a bit stumped as to how to do it. Molly talked about a blog button but we all know I have no idea what that is. What I do know how, however, is how to cut and paste so that is going to have to be the preferred method of award distribution. If you should find one of these awards in your e-mailbox you have my permission to paste it on your blog or print it out to remind you of how cool you are.

I'm aware that if I can cut and paste so can just about anybody. I don't have a problem with that. I simply ask that you leave it intact and make no changes. If you know of someone who deserves a pat on the back or acknowledgement of a job well done, or just a few words of encouragement feel free to pass the award along. I have no illusions about the extent of my influence on the world, but I've got a strong belief in the ripple effect. If enough of us turn to our sister/brother and give a thumbs up instead of a different hand signal this world would be a much happier place. Let the change begin with ME!

Blessings and joy,

Merry ME

P.S. Molly, thanks again. I love, love, love it.