Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mama Millie

Fox doesn't look like much. Fox has been gutted of stuffing and torn a bit from nose to tip of tail yet Millie loves Fox. Fox is her favorite toy.

For some time we have noticed that Millie is very concerned when Emma cries....Nolan, not so much. She lets us know if Emma is crying or distressed. She licks both babies, but hovers over Emma sometimes standing over her little body looking into her face.

This week Millie's mama gene really kicked in. She has become the nanny to the twins. I am constantly reminded Nana the dog in Peter Pan. Millie would refuse to wear a cap, but she does watch over her wards. A second blanket was placed on the floor for the second twin to have some wiggle room. At the time both twins were under their play gym. Millie walked over and laid on the second blanket with her head towards the twins. She didn't let down her guard. Then I noticed that she seemed to take over when I left the room. If I left, she laid by the  twins. When I returned, she got up.

 We all know the dedication of our pets. The endless love they give to us even at risk to themselves. Miss Millie is about seventy-five pounds of Airedale. The babies are accustomed to seeing her big head over them as she licks their downy hair. Now they manage to grab a bit of fur when she come close. Yet, Millie doesn't mind. Our pets love us with all the love they can give.

The babies laid on the floor. Millie dug in her toy basket and pulled out Fox. She took Fox over to the babies laying her favorite toy between them, nudged it with her nose then walked away. Millie loves her puppies. I love Millie.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


1.lacking hue and brightness; absorbing light without reflecting any of the rays composing it.
2.characterized by absence of light; enveloped in darkness: a black night.
3.soiled or stained with dirt: That shirt was black within an hour.
4.gloomy; pessimistic; dismal: a black outlook.
The store opened early. I pulled my weary bones out of bed and put on the clothing I had laid out the night before. Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho…. "I'm here!" I said into the phone. "There are people camped on the sidewalk."

My boss was on her way to unlock the door and let me in. There wasn't a sign of anyone on the sidewalk let alone the parking lot. I knew that in other parts of town and in other cities, crowds stormed the doors. Black Friday. Black: lacking hue and brightness.

It doesn't take much to understand that Thanksgiving has been made into a three ring circus. Businesses count on the money from Black Friday to make their goals for the year. Their employees get overtime to compensate for the time away from friends and family, away from a day off with the rest of the country. Hallmark starts Christmas in July. Thanksgiving and Christmas have turned into the power of the almighty dollar.

Yesterday I decided that it is time for a change. Thanksgiving needs to be renamed. Now don't get alarmed. I don't want to call it Black Friday Eve. No, I just want to call it Thanks Day. A day that we all give Thanks. A day of being with those for whom we are thankful. A day of peace and love. Thanks Day.

The next day should be Giving Day. A day we give to others. A day of sharing the love we have, the bounty we have, even the simplicity of a smile that we can give on this one special day, give to someone else. Giving Day.

There is no room in my life for the excess we have come to expect. The greed, the selfishness, the rudeness that is expressed on a Black day. Indeed black does absorb reflection. Two types of reflection. One, being the reflection of the human spirit, of compassion for all. The second is the way the Black absorbs all of the days surrounding it as well as the almighty dollar. How people can change from giving thanks on one day then into a rude pushing mass the next is beyond me.

So, I say to you,  I challenge you. We have another holiday coming up. Please make it one of loving, of caring for every person you meet. Pray for a world of peace and be part of that peace. Paint the blackness that brings out the worst in people with a reflecting light that shines wherever you pass. I'll do my part. Won't you do yours?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's Puzzling

Thanksgiving on the farm. Out came the card table, a place for the children to sit. Once the meal was over, the eating table was transformed into a puzzle table. Not everyone in the family puzzled. Dad would once in awhile place a few pieces, Mom puttered in the kitchen or crocheted most of the day conversing with the puzzlers. Cousin Betty, my sisters and I would be glued to our seats puzzling over the puzzle. Puzzles are addictive, especially if you are the addictee. (I wonder if that's a word?) Working together to complete a picture was only part of this puzzle ritual. We spent time together. I was much younger than the rest yet was treated as an equal. I joined in adult conversations or just listened learning what it was to be an adult. I grew up on puzzles.

Now we know that our memory improves with this putting together of puzzles. Not 'puzzling' considering the fact that you sit for hours determined to locate a piece of puzzle either by shape or by color. We are not deterred, refusing to surrender to 1000 pieces of challenge. I have no idea if my memory is better, since I don't have any idea what it would be like if I didn't do puzzles. Hm. Are you still with me? My granddaughter brought with her a puzzle that she had received from her grandpa one Christmas. 1000 pieces of Labrador retrievers standing in a grassy marsh. 1000 pieces of green grass and black dogs. My thought was that she should have taken it to her grandpa to complete since he bought a puzzle that was entirely too difficult for this child. Each time Sydney walked through the door she asked, "How are you doing on the puzzle, Grammy?" Argh! Determined not to back down from this broken up picture, not to allow my granddaughter to think her grandma is a failure, I finished the puzzle marveling at what I had accomplished alone.

Most people are eager for skiing and winter fun when fall comes on. I love to stay inside with a puzzle on the table, justifying the time I sit at that table as a memory building exercise. I recall memories of my cousin Betty and time spent in conversation around a puzzle. Memories that continue to warm my heart. My memory may not be better, but my determination is impressive.

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. May your day of food and family be full of laughter. And, if the card table is available, pull out a puzzle and make some great memories. I am thankful for my wonderful readers. God bless you all.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Bugs

The Bugs! The BUGS!!!!! I was enraged. What in the world was wrong with my parents???? Didn't they pay any attention to anything that interested me?! Again, I felt that no one really paid attention to me. No one cared enough to catch on to this teenager in 1964. Christmas was marred.

Well, years teach us a lot, don't they? We go through so many stages in this growing up we do starting at birth. We continue to do it all the way through to the end of our lives. We continue to learn by our mistakes or by the mistakes of others that leave a mark on our lives.

My children were in elementary school. I was trying to record our Christmas morning for my parents so they could see their grandchildren who lived on the west coast. My daughter unwrapped her gift from my parents and did what her mother had done back in 1964. Mom had sent a bright red purse full of little toys. Stacey must have been about ten and indignant that her grandma didn't know what she liked. Needless to say, the tape was not sent to Grandma and Grandpa that year.....or any after.

In looking back, I realize now that my sisters, who were eight and ten years older than me, were the focus of my parents when along came a little girl who would be part of a new generation of youth. The mistake my parents made was that of not paying attention to the changes that affected their daughter. A new generation of youth voicing their feelings. A generation changing in ways of dress, music, dreams for their futures. Mom and Dad came from a generation not so different than all the generations before them.

I have been a parent who tried to keep up with "what was happening" in the kids' world. We listened to their music. Their friend hung out at our house. I was involved with my kids....and now with my grandchildren. I had the girls on Tuesday. I knew they were really into New Direction so I tapped the Today Show performance by the group so the girls and I could watch it together. The girls were thrilled. I always take note of the clothing the kids wear. I listen to what they say to know what they like. I work at being involved. Being a senior citizen is no excuse for being out of the loop.

I sat by the tree that Christmas of 1964 and opened the thin package. I wanted so much to have an album of The Beatles. I prayed that the gift I held would be it. I tore the paper away. The Bugs. A group I'd never heard of. Pretty sure no one had. I probably owned the only album they ever sold. Beatles not Bugs!!! Recent research informed me that The Bugs was a garage band that went on to become The Grains of Sand (never heard of them either). The gift that long ago was such a disappointment is probably worth money now! Oh, well. I learned a lesson in listening.

Still waiting for that Beatles album.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Flying Solo

Never know what going to come flying at you from moment to moment. Never know. Out of the blue something comes at you that knocks you right off your feet. It's called life....and death. Transition always follows. Sometimes it needs a boost.

Last night I had a message that my cousin's widow had died suddenly in her sleep. Age 57. A woman who always had a ready laugh. A woman who was raising her grandchildren. Life as her family had known it changed overnight.

We are farmers. Well, I was a farmer. Well, I grew up on a farm...farming. To farmers the land is everything. Often farms are handed down father to son. The land is our history. My mother lived on the same square mile of land all but a short period of her life. When we gave up our farm after my parents died, it was the same as losing another parent. The land had been our lifeline. But for three sisters living in various states, we could not keep the farm. A fact that still hurts.

the original Johnson homestead
 My cousin was trying to reclaim all of the land that had once been the Johnson homestead. It was a passion returning the land to the family once more. When a local farm would sell, he would buy up the land. He decided to form an LLC giving equal portions to his children and to their spouses. His intent was good. Or was it? A few years back, my cousin died leaving the corporation to his child and stepchildren (and their spouses). A well-intended plan ran amok. A divorced and a death of a stepson changed the face of the LLC. Grandchildren stepped up to continue the farm work. Now one more of the original members is gone. This is the second LLC I've seen work against the children who are part of it.

My cousin is at a loss as to what to do now. She feels obligated to keep the LLC going yet she is ready to put it behind her and for once move on with her life the way she wants it. The roots to the soil have been an anchor that controls her life. The guilt of giving up on it borders on painful. It wasn't my business, but I am one of the last of the Johnson family, and she is very dear to me.

"It's time to move on," I told her. "Break up the LLC and live your life."

"Do you think it's okay. I feel like I'm letting Dad down."

Obligation is a very strong word. Often guilt and sadness follow in its wake. Walking away from tradition is not an easy thing. Giving up soil that has the sweat of all of our family within its dark depths is no easy decision. She wants to move on with her life with the new man in her life. She is tired of the stress of the LLC and her obligation to her father. It is a new day and age. She has paid her dues to the past. I gave her permission as the family elder to give up the LLC and move on.

We have no right to burden our children with our wants and desires. In trying to protect his family, my cousin locked them into a situation that has used them as pawns. One could not move without affection the others. We need to give our families their freedom. We are the past starting the day we are born. We should be born with wings to fly. As a parent, it is our responsibility to help those we love. To help them fly solo.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Of the people

.......government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abe Lincoln said some very powerful words in the Gettysburg Address. A government of the people. Of the people, not just those who believe what we believe. Of the people, not by those who have the money to sway politicians. Of the people; even those from other countries who come here to be citizens of our nation. The people of the United States have changed since these words were said. Or have they? Seems to me that Mister Lincoln was indeed thinking of a new nation that included those taken from their homes in Africa.
This beautiful government includes all people regardless of race,  religious differences, and beliefs. Each and every one should be heard and protected.

By the people. We should all have a voice. I know it seems that money seems to control much of our government right now. We have a system where our representatives can actually vote for their own raises and job benefits. It is a little more difficult to find our voices when we are often fed hearsay through the media. If we want to have a voice, we need to do our own research and make our voices heard. We are the people.....all of us, including those who cannot make their voices heard.

For the people. For me, this means that I need to think of all people, not just myself and my way of life and beliefs. Everyone has a right to be heard and protected. Everyone should have the same rights that I possess. We don't all need to believe the same thing. I am a Christian, but that means that I follow a Jew. I also follow a man who did not judge and who embraced ALL people regardless of sinner or saint. He loved them all. For the people. Not just my people.

I guess I am feeling relieved that the end of the current election is finally here. I am saddened that more people don't truly take time to investigate what is on the ballot. I am saddened that we allow ourselves to vote party line instead of being educated about the issues and people running. I just ask that all people truly learn the facts for themselves. We have a responsibility to all peoples. We have that responsibility to look at a nation of people as varied as the flowers that cover our earth. We are blessed to be able to embrace what we believe individually and an obligation to allow others the same without malice or judgment.

I appreciate those who have upheld the platform on which our country was built. We have a government that needs to look beyond their own beliefs and protect that of others. It cannot be an easy job, but it is what a democracy is all about. A politician should go into office wanting to hear all of the people he or she works for. We hire our politicians to hear every voice of every color, every belief, of every persuasion.

We are a the people, of the people, for the people.

Thanks, Abe.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Grandparent's Voice

World English Dictionary
voice (vɔɪs)
- n
7. written or spoken expression, as of feeling, opinion, etc 
8. a stated choice, wish, or opinion or the power or right to have an opinion heard and considered

A Grandparent's Voice. I had to grow into my grandparent's voice. In fact, it took me years to figure out how to express that voice that I had been honing for so many years. A voice that sometimes needed to be quiet. A voice that could be heard if presented in the correct way. A voice that needed to be heard in order to preserve my needs and desires. I had to find my own voice.

I was surprised to find that the first dictionary I checked did not have the above descriptions of the noun voice. I was surprised to see it listed as 7 and 8 in the World English Dictionary. Yes, the sound that emits from air passing over our vocal cords is an important voice, but learning about our own voice, a voice that can express and be heard, is equally important in my estimation. 

A friend of mine informed me that her family was talking about what to do with her now that she is alone and sixty-eight. I must say that it caught me off guard that her family would be trying to decide what to do with her when she is an active business woman who seems in control of all of her facilities. Then it dawned on me that even my sisters and I had often talked about what we were going to do with Mom and Dad when the time came. 

I am part of that generation of women who were housewives. My circumstances took me back to the work force when I was forty-six. I had not planned for my senior years. Way back when, the elderly just moved in with a family member or tried to stay in their own home as long as possible. Even with the best of plans, no one knows what lies awaiting at any point in time. When my father passed, my mother stayed on the farm until she died. We were fortunate that they had a community who looked after them since we all lived away in other states. So who takes care of us? How do we keep our children from worrying about us? 

Since my layoffs, I have been at the mercy of my savings from the sale of my house. I had unemployment, but that was far from keeping me afloat. When I still had no job, my house money dwindled. I ended up moving in with my daughter (big mistake). Now I live in the lower level of my friend's home. This is not the life I chose. I am working part time, but still I know that some time my body will not continue to tolerate the hours I work standing on my feet. My voice doesn't seem to count for much at this time. Still, I'm a young sixty-five. I embrace life and live it to the fullest. I am a positive person who does what I can to move forward. I do have a voice in my future without my family making those decisions for me. We can have dialogue.

I know I am not alone. I know that many people are afraid of the future, especially when there seems to be no answers, only more problems. There is no dishonor in asking for help.There is no shame in looking to what agencies are available to help you. There is no reason you can't still help others and perhaps find in helping others, your own way. We are a vital part of our families and communities. We cannot sit back and let decisions be made without at least giving our own opinions. Yes, sometimes health and circumstances take us to places we would rather not be, and we have to be accepting of those situations. Yet we can have conversations that allow us to express our feeling of entering into those changes in our lives.

I have a grandparent's voice. I have a woman's voice. I have a voice the same as every human being should have even if we find that our voice must be expressed in ways that keep us safe. Not everyone lives in a country where their voices can be heard. Not everyone knows they have a voice. Remember that with that voice comes the listening as well.

voice. the right to have an opinion heard and considered