Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Glass Finch and the Purple Boots

I would love to start this post out with a Once upon a time scenario. It would be so much fun to tell the story of the purple boots and a glass finch...but alas I am not going to today. I may write that story after the holidays though. It has the makings of a great children's tale. Even though I am not writing a fairy tale this morning I must tell you that I am a vintage and consignment nut. I love shopping through old things and trying to figure out what the story of that item might be. Sometimes I come up with some really elaborate tales from a piece of jewelry or furniture. Anyhow....One of my former students, Olivia, has an Etsy store. I thought this child was pretty far ahead of her time in high school. She was retro when retro was not the style...and always wore some of the neatest things. On her etsy page right now she has purple boots....PURPLE BOOTS....they are "Pretty, pretty! These awesome 80s vintage purple boots are so neat, and I just love the matching button embellishments on each outer ankle!" Of course as in any vintage piece of anything you will find that there is some minimal scuffing on the toes and heels of each boot, which is visible in the pictures she has posted. The shoes are marked size 7 1/2, but Olivia warns the shopper that the boots definitely fit at least half a size smaller. She goes on to recommend the boots for a size 7 shoe wearer. There is a matching suede lining and the boots are marked Made in Italy. I don't know about you...but I love italian made is like heaven on your feet. So, if you have some free time today...check out Olivia's store on Etsy...I promise you won't be sorry...especially if you have 7/7.5 feet. I don't...I can only dream about those purple boots...cause they will never get on my 8.5 foot. Olivia is a talented artist who has a passion for the unusual so at her shop you can also find hand painted flats, salt shakers, jewelry she makes herself...all kinds of unusual finds. I would love for you all to check her out. She is a terrific person and so very talented. You can visit her today at: or Happy hunting!

Monday, December 14, 2009

In Search of a Star

It was around Christmas when Frank's mom died 7 years ago. It made the holidays tough and Frank and I were to be married in less than a month. We decided to remember his mom by placing special star ornaments on the tree for his mom and his dad. We went to Lifeway and found the most beautiful gold stars ever. They were stars of Bethlehem. We have put them lovingly on our tree every year for the past seven years. This year, as you all know, my dad died and so we began the hunt for the special star. We decided to go ahead and buy two so that we would have one for my mom to match my dad's. We have hunted everywhere for the perfect star ornament. As luck would have it we could find ONE that we liked....not TWO....or nothing that just jumped out and said, "Pick Me! Pick Me!" I found myself in Dothan, AL this weekend...December 11th...14 days til Christmas....with no star and no time to shop. I was to be in Dothan all weekend, bowling! Not Christmas shopping!...yet, in the worst of all weather...cold, rainy, nasty....we made it to Michaels, Target and no avail. I made peace that there would be no special star on the tree this year for my dad. When we got back to Patricia Lanes to pick up the other bowlers, Louise asked if I had looked at Belks...she said their ornaments were gorgeous....and since we had two hours before our dinner reservations at Hunts....we headed for Wiregrass Commons Mall and Belks. I walked in, went straight to the Christmas section...and lo and behold....there they were...TWO...count them...TWO matching gorgeous star ornaments....and they were under 10.00. I snatched them up, paid for them, and went to wait at the door while everyone else shopped. As I was standing there...I began to replay the Christmas story in my know how it goes...several important people....went searching for THE star...
"That night, in a field near the little town, shepherds were guarding their sheep. Suddenly a bright light, as bright as the sun, shone all around them. The shepherds were afraid and covered their faces. The sheep were afraid and huddled together.
"Don’t be afraid," said a kind, gentle voice. The shepherds uncovered their faces. They saw an angel, all glowing with light. Said the angel, "I bring you good tidings of great joy! Jesus, your Saviour, is born. You will find Him lying in a manger." Then the sky was filled with shining angels singing the glory song -- "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." As the angels went farther and farther away, they looked like a twinkling bright star in the dark night sky above Bethlehem. "Come," said the shepherds, "let us go see." They ran all the way to the stable, and there they found Joseph and Mary and Baby Jesus in His manger bed. In a faraway country, Wise Men saw the angel star. They said, "It is the star of the Baby King. Let us go worship Him, and take Him presents." The Wise Men made ready their gifts. One Wise Man filled a bag with gold. Another filled a jar with frankincense, the perfume of flowers. And another filled a special box with myrrh, the perfume of spices. The Wise Men gathered up their gifts, mounted their camels, and rode toward the star. They crossed rivers and hills and sandy deserts -- sometimes it was hot, sometimes it was cold, but always they rode on, following the star. When I hang my stars on my tree this year I will pause and remember how important that star was...and delight in the fact that the shepherds and wisemen...took heed and followed. As the new year begins I want to remember to take heed and follow. What a star...What a night....Star of Wonder....Shining Bright! I do hope you all have a wonderful week...I know I will!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Kevin's Version of the Christmas Story

Last night the funeral home here in Alex City, Radneys had a memorial service for the families who have lost loved ones this year. I did not want to go....but I went...and I am so glad I did. My associate pastor, Kevin Payne, delivered the following message. He is a very funny man...and at a time when I did not think smiling was possible....I smiled...and because I did I just had to share it with you today. So I hope you enjoy the story. It is based on scripture from the book of Luke 2: 1-20 and entitled, "A Christmas Like No Other."
"For many of us, this Christmas will be a Christmas like no other. This is because this is the first Christmas we are experiencing after having to say goodbye to a loved one. I am going through this, as last Christmas Eve my Granny died. She always made Christmas so special. And this year, to say the least, is different.
There are many in my congregation for whom Christmas is a mixed bag of emotions. There are widows and widowers for whom Christmas is a melancholy experience. There are those who feel as though they are on an emotional rollercoaster, as they have children or grandchildren who makes the season so joyful; yet are also saddened because they no longer have their parents in which to share and celebrate all the glad tidings of Christmas morning.
Christmas is always a time of gathering with family and friends - and when, because of death, they are no with us, it can make us feel as though we might be crushed under the weight of sadness.
Christmas seems to rush in, interrupt our routines, get our schedules all out of order, bring up feelings that cause us to be anything but joyful – BUT, if we stop, just for a moment, look past ourselves, and truly behold the miracle that we call Christmas, we will see that out of the whole world, we have the most reason to celebrate!
Christmas does interrupt. Look at the text in the gospel of Luke – see what happened at the first Christmas.
Here Joseph is carrying his wife, who is, to say the least, “great with child,” to go register in order to pay their taxes to an government that has invaded them. While Joseph is having to deal with the IRS, Mary leans off her donkey and says those three little words every husband who is going to be an earthly father both longs to hear and, at the same time, strikes terror into their very hearts “Honey, it’s time.”
Talk about an interruption! Joseph hasn’t even made reservations, and there is only one hotel – after all, Bethlehem isn’t as big as Alexander City, and they only have the Bob White Motel, and it is already filled to capacity. Everyone who was born in Bethlehem has returned home from all over Judea, Syria, Palestine, the Ancient Near East, and Bethlehem, just is not that big!

Joseph is able to get a place for them in the stable – the garage, the parking deck. But, it is warm; there is clean straw, and a slightly used manger, which will work just fine.
Can you imagine what is going through Joseph’s mind right now? Here he is, the God-chosen, angelic message delivered, earthly father of God (we forget about that. Check out Matthew 1: 18 and following.) and God’s son is about to be born - in a stable. He thought he had time to get there, register, and get back with Mary. But no! It is now, right now, that Jesus, the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Savior of the World – our Savior, is going to be born.
I am sure this was not on Joseph’s time, not the way he planned it, not on his schedule. But it was right on God’s time, right when God decided, where God chose it to be.
The Christ was not coming into the world to be born in comfort, in a home. In fact, later he would be the one to say that foxes have holes, and birds have nest, but the Son of Man has no where to lay his head. He was not coming to be served, but rather to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
As Joseph got Mary in the stable, comfortable, and, maybe with a little help, who knows, the scripture does not say, helps Mary to deliver and Jesus is born. As the Breath of Heaven takes his first breath as a human, another interruption occurs.
There are some shepherds out doing their job – the same way they do every night. They are keeping watch over their flocks. Some are sitting around a little fire; some are standing looking over the heard, when all of a sudden an angel of the Lord appears to them and interrupts their ordinary night with some extraordinary news!
It scares the begebbies out of them! But the angel says Do not be afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today, a Savior has been born for you, and he is the Christ, the Lord.
The word that is translated as “good news” is the word euangelion – it is the word we translate “gospel.” This isn’t just any old good news – this is the gospel proclamation – the Savior is born – “Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her king!”
But wait – there is more!

Just as the Angel of the Lord finishes describing we can find the baby born – wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger, the gates of heaven swing open wide and the entire angelic chorus with all the heavenly host appear and praise God singing Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, on whom his favor rest.
The shepherds go and see, just as they were told. They find Joseph and Mary, and the Messiah, the Babe of Bethlehem, and tell them all that they had been told. And I imagine Mary, looking tired, but ever so lovingly into her husband Joseph’s eyes, hearing all that the shepherds told, remembering her own journey, from the angelic message to her asking her to be the Mother of God; to Joseph’s telling her about his vision and angelic message, all the way to what has brought them here.
As she and Joseph, as they had been instructed, names the child entrusted by God as God to them, calling him “Jesus,” or also “Emmanuel” which means “God with Us.”
Maybe you have heard this story a thousand times before, but right now, hear the Good News again anew. A savior has been born for you, and for your loved ones who have gone on. Today, a Savior is given for you so that you will never have to say goodbye ever again. Jesus the Christ – Emmanuel – God is with you. And, because of the Great Love of God displayed at Christmas – nothing will EVER be able to separate you or those you love from His great love – not sin, not death, nor the powers of hell, because in the hands of that little baby in a manger in Bethlehem, holds the key to eternity.
We celebrate, and we, as Peter says, do not grieve as those who have no hope because we are reminded, as Christmas interrupts our routines, gets our schedules all out of order, and brings up all manner of feelings, that Today, a Savior has been born for us, and he is the Christ, the Lord.
This Christmas will be a Christmas unlike any other. And we celebrate and give thanks to God because of the gift of life given to us this holiday proclaims. Let us join with the angelic chorus and all the saints of heaven singing Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, on whom his favor rest. As we, with our loved ones who are now a part of the saints, tell the gospel – good news that we have a Savior that destroys death – Jesus Christ is born! Merry Christmas!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen."
For those of you who are hurting this year...may you have hope in your heart!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Begins

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. I love this part of the Christmas season. I got so excited yesterday when I set the altar at the Arbor with the Advent wreath and placed all the candles around. Yeppers, Christmas is definitely off and running and once again I plan not to get caught up in the commercial side of the holiday...and I know I will...but for, November 29th....I will hold Christmas in my heart...because today is the true beginning...the first Sunday of Advent. Did you know that the word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history...for me it is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ, and becoming reconciled to God. I love the scripture readings dring Advent because they all reflect the emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment on sin, and the hope of eternal life.
Advent symbolizes for me the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power and it is my own responsibility as a people commissioned to "love the Lord my God with all my heart" and to "love my neighbor as myself." And you know...that is the other thing I love so about this time of year....people seem to love each other a little more and be a little more tolerant and kinder. I just wish it would carry over into the other days of the year....but for one special month of the is evident.

I love the lighting of the Advent wreath at church each Sunday. The special wreath is an increasingly popular symbol of the beginning of the Church year in many churches as well as homes. It is a circular evergreen wreath (real or artificial) with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center. Since the wreath is symbolic and a vehicle to tell the Christmas story, there are various ways to understand the symbolism. The exact meaning given to the various aspects of the wreath is not as important as the story to which it invites us to listen, and participate. Did you know that the circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life. "Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son. The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. The colors of the candles vary with different traditions, but there are usually three purple or blue candles, corresponding to the sanctuary colors of Advent, and one pink or rose candle. One of the purple candles is lighted the first Sunday of Advent, a Scripture is read, a short devotional or reading is given, and a prayer offered. On subsequent Sundays, previous candles are relighted with an additional one lighted. The pink candle is usually lighted on the third Sunday of Advent." The light of the candles itself becomes an important symbol of the season. The light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God's grace to others (Isa 42:6). "The first candle is traditionally the candle of Expectation or Hope (or in some traditions, Prophecy). This draws attention to the anticipation of the coming of a Messiah that weaves its way like a golden thread through Old Testament history. As God’s people were abused by power hungry kings, led astray by self-centered prophets, and lulled into apathy by half-hearted religious leaders, there arose a longing among some for God to raise up a new king who could show them how to be God’s people. They yearned for a return of God’s dynamic presence in their midst." "The remaining three candles of Advent may be associated with different aspects of the Advent story in different churches, or even in different years. Usually they are organized around characters or themes as a way to unfold the story and direct attention to the celebrations and worship in the season. So, the sequence for the remaining three Sundays might be Bethlehem, Shepherds, Angels. Or Love, Joy, Peace. Or John the Baptist, Mary, the Magi. Or the Annunciation, Proclamation, Fulfillment. Whatever sequence is used, the Scripture readings, prayers, lighting of the candles, the participation of worshipers in the service, all are geared to telling the story of redemption through God’s grace in the Incarnation." The third candle, usually for the Third Sunday of Advent, is traditionally Pink or Rose, and symbolizes Joy at the soon Advent of the Christ. It marks a shift from the more solemn tone of the first two Sundays of Advent that focus on Preparation and Hope, to a more joyous atmosphere of anticipation and expectancy. I hope we sing Joy to the World on that Sunday. It is one of my favorite Christmas songs. The center candle is white and is called the Christ Candle. It is traditionally lighted on Christmas Eve or Day. However, since many Protestant churches do not have services on those days, many light it on the Sunday preceding Christmas, with all five candles continuing to be lighted in services through Epiphany (Jan 6). The central location of the Christ Candle reminds us that the incarnation is the heart of the season, giving light to the world. so with that history lesson on Advent, from my house to yours and from my heart to yours I am hoping that your heart is full this time of year...and it carries on through the year. I am planning on having a Christmas heart all year. That is my Resolution for the beginning of my year. Yep...Christmas heart. I want to love like there is no tomorrow, dance in the rain, smile more...and have no regrets. Bless you all this day!

Friday, November 27, 2009


Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day and I woke up not feeling really in a thankful mood. I woke feeling sorry for myself. My pity party lasted the entire time I was making sweet potato souffle for our lunch...I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into my self made pit of dispair when my nephew David's son, Wheeler came into the room with his daddy. He had on the cutest striped pajamas...and the sweetest sleepy smile and my depression just poofed away. I truly believe that God brought David and Suzanna with my precious Wheeler, and Ramona and Dustin with my precious Drew to Thanksgiving yesterday because He knew I would need them. Shortly after Wheeler appeared, Drew came up too...and my world was at peace. I love those babies. I love their parents...and to be honest...besides Kat never thought I could love anybody as much as I loved David and Ramona when they were growing up....but I do...I love me some Wheeler and Drew. Wheeler has this deep laugh, sweet smile, huge eyes, and looks just like his daddy did when he was little....precious! Drew...(a.k.a. Tomahawk Tommy)has the cutest grin, eyes you can get lost in, the cutest giggle, and looks just like his momma did...precious! The only one missing from my world yesterday was Kat and day would have been 100% perfect...but let me tell you it was darn near close. Before my day was over...I was thankful. I was thankful that for 55 years I got to have my father and mother with me. I was thankful that I come from a family who loves each other. I was thankful for the fact that my parents lived life to the fullest with no regrets and taught me to do the same thing...I know when my daddy entered the pearly gates on October 9th...he did not enter them carefully and tell St. Peter what a careful life he had lead...always being the safe one. Nope! Not my daddy! He entered the pearly gates wiped his brow and said..."Man, now that was quite a ride!"...and for that...I am thankful. My daddy taught me to live life so there are no regrets...and even with the past 4.5 years....with them living with me....I would not take a million dollars for any of it. I am thankful today...that I had that 4.5 years. So, if you are reading this today...and you have living parents...or brothers and sisters...tell them you love them...and hug them a little harder today...and be thankful they are there. God bless you all!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Symbolic Gifts

I was catching up on my blogger buddies posts today and found an awesome one that I want you to read. It is by my buddy over at Easy Giving 101. Her post is all about Symbolic giving and you must go there and read it. The gift that was my favorite was this one: "Butterflies are also symbolic of life metamorphosis, transformation, and hope. A good remembrance of how death is only our gateway to immortality, a transformation to a new way of living or existing. Butterflies are joyous because they represent resurrection and have such a happy, busy way of life." I will probably wear a butterfly everyday for the rest of my life. I have always loved them....and now...they are a connection with my father. Go read her blog...I promise you won't regret it.

Did I Do That?

Oh Lord! My mom has a new trick. She has been most entertaining at the Dadeville Healthcare Center. She sets the door alarms off several times during the day and the little aids, CNAs, nurses, staff...whoever is around ahs to go and get her away from the door and keep her from going outside. She has become a high flight risk. Poor momma. She is just like an incorrigible child. I called on Saturday to see if we could come and see her....the nurse sighed....and said, "she is still asleep....please don't make us wake her us." I realized it had been a long night and thought I would call back later...I did only to find out that she was pacing in warp speed. I called on Sunday only to find out about her new trick. She sets off fire alarms. While I was on the phone she set it off....and the nurse sighed audibly on the phone. I don't know who I feel sorrier mom for being there....or the nurses she deals with on a daily basis. I know it cannot be easy for either of them. Anyways....she is coming to Adam's on the Dadeville help....will be able to breathe easy....Everytime my mom makes an alarm go off....she looks at whoever comes to make it stop and says, "Did I do that?" This is very funny to mischievous. She would never have tolerated this behavior from either my brother or from me...and yet here she is....driving her caregivers nuts. I remember once she told me that when someone takes the easy way makes more work for someone else....I wonder was that a lesson I was supposed to learn...or did she believe it...because you would never know it by her actions....but then...will the real Wilma Sasser please stand up. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sundowners - What is That?

When I was younger I loved the croonings of Gordon Lightfoot. One of my favorite songs of his was called "Sundown." I loved the harmony, the haunting melody, and his voice. Today I am fascinated by another title of "Sundown." You see my mom has Sundowners Syndrome, also known as sundowning. It is a condition often associated with the early stages of Alzheimer's, although a definitive connection has not been made. Sundowners syndrome can also be considered a mood disorder or even a sleep disorder. Sufferers experience periods of extreme agitation and confusion during the late afternoon or early evening hours, leading to irritability towards caregivers or hospital staff. It was once believed that sundowners syndrome was a result of missed day/night light cues, hence the sudden onset at sundown. My mom worked for Wal-mart for over 20 years. She worked third shift. I am so curious as to how many third shift workers experience sundowners in their later years. If I were a researcher I would take this up as a challenge. Caregivers and nursing home staff members can often anticipate an elderly patient's bout of sundowners syndrome. A period of irrational thoughts and irritable behavior might begin after the last meal of the day and last until bedtime, for example. One theory concerning sundowners syndrome is that the constant daily mental processes for normal living can become overwhelming for the elderly during evening hours. They simply have too much incoming information and their restricted cognitive abilities become overloaded. The result is a period of irritability and negative thoughts. In my mothers case the Dadeville Healthcare Center is too stimulating. There is too much activity going on and by evening it sets her off royally. She and her roomie both are sundowners and high elopement risks...but they are not good for each other at night because one won't go to sleep until the other one does. So I can see the wheels turning and you are asking yourself...ok...your mom is a sundowner...what can be done about this to help her lead a normal life? Well therein lies the problem.
Treatment for sundowners syndrome is generally limited to the underlying condition which triggers it, such as Alzheimer's or clinical depression. Anti-depressants may lessen the severity of the confusion, while drugs like Aricept may improve cognitive function. Since sundowners syndrome is also closely associated with sleep disorders and fatigue, sedatives and other sleeping aids may also help. Experienced caregivers suggest encouraging the patient to take several naps throughout the day and limit stimulating activities to the morning hours. All this has been mom has been given enough sleep enhancing drugs to stop a stampeeding herd of cattle...and none of it has worked to date. That is where another problem exists because there are other conditions which closely resemble sundowners syndrome, especially in unfamiliar hospital settings. Some elderly patients may become confused or irritable as a result of the anesthetics used during their surgeries. Others who spend time in the ICU or are connected to noisy medical equipment may experience a condition called hospital psychosis, which may also be especially noticeable during evening hours. But hospital psychosis can affect any age group, while sundowners syndrome is generally limited to the elderly population. she is a classic sundowners. As far as dementia is just one of many stages she will go through...hopefully. This to shall pass they say...worst case won't. Understanding the sundowners concept though has explained a lot of things that my mom did before my dad died and while they were living with me. I believe she has been a sundowners for a while. It is good to know....but does it make me feel any better? Nope...Not be just makes me feel worse for my mom...she has been suffering for so long...and was so good at bluffing...I missed the cues completely. This woman should be playing poker in Vegas....she is good! Happy Hump Day! Hug your momma if you can. If not...hug somebody else's momma. It will make their day!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day of the Dead, Halloween, or All Saints Day - What is Your Preference?

As most of my readers already know...I teach Spanish and I thought today I would give you a brief...or not so brief historical lesson on El Dia de los Muertos. I used this lesson in class today. Of course...after the boring notes part we did some fun stuff. We made masks and made papel picado. How fun was that? Anyways....What do you know about El Dia de los Muertos. Well...from someone who does not like our Halloween....this holiday has an appeal to me. Especially since I lost my dad a few weeks ago....but that is another story....All you wanted to know about Dia de los Muertos in a nutshell is this...More than 500 years ago, when the Spanish Conquistadors landed in what is now Mexico, they encountered natives practicing a ritual that seemed to mock death.
It was a ritual the indigenous people had been practicing at least 3,000 years. A ritual the Spaniards would try unsuccessfully to eradicate. A ritual known today as Día de los Muertos/Dia de los Difuntos, or Day of the Dead. The ritual is celebrated in Mexico and certain parts of the United States, including the Valley. Celebrations are held each year in Mesa, Chandler, Guadalupe and at Arizona State University. Although the ritual has since been merged with Catholic theology, it still maintains the basic principles of the Aztec ritual, such as the use of skulls. Today, people don wooden skull masks called calacas and dance in honor of their deceased relatives. The wooden skulls are also placed on altars that are dedicated to the dead. Sugar skulls, made with the names of the dead person on the forehead, are eaten by a relative or friend, according to Mary J. Adrade, who has written three books on the ritual. The Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations kept skulls as trophies and displayed them during the ritual. The skulls were used to symbolize death and rebirth. The skulls were used to honor the dead, whom the Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations believed came back to visit during the monthlong ritual.
Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the natives viewed it as the continuation of life. Instead of fearing death, they embraced it. To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake. "The pre-Hispanic people honored duality as being dynamic," said Christina Gonzalez, senior lecturer on Hispanic issues at Arizona State University. "They didn't separate death from pain, wealth from poverty like they did in Western cultures." However, the Spaniards considered the ritual to be sacrilegious. They perceived the indigenous people to be barbaric and pagan. In their attempts to convert them to Catholicism, the Spaniards tried to kill the ritual. But like the old Aztec spirits, the ritual refused to die.
To make the ritual more Christian, the Spaniards moved it so it coincided with All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day (Nov. 1 and 2), which is when it is celebrated today.
Previously it fell on the ninth month of the Aztec Solar Calendar, approximately the beginning of August, and was celebrated for the entire month. Festivities were presided over by the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The goddess, known as "Lady of the Dead," was believed to have died at birth, Andrade said. Today, Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and in certain parts of the United States and Central America.
The celebrations differ from place to place.In rural Mexico, people visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried. They decorate gravesites with marigold flowers and candles. They bring toys for dead children and bottles of tequila to adults. They sit on picnic blankets next to gravesites and eat the favorite food of their loved ones. In Guadalupe, the ritual is celebrated much like it is in rural Mexico. In Guadalupe the people spend the day in the cemetery and they decorate graves.In Mesa, the ritual has evolved to include other cultures. In the United States and in Mexico's larger cities, families build altars in their homes, dedicating them to the dead. They surround these altars with flowers, food and pictures of the deceased. They light candles and place them next to the altar. On Sunday....I will be taking part in something similar...All Saints Sunday at my church. There will be an altar....there will be photos of loved ones and church members...there will be candles....there will be a celebration....and we will do When the Saints Go Marching In. It will be a time of prayer for those who have lost loved ones...not for the dead. Sigh....I build the altars at our I guess that means no incense, no papel picado in purple, pink and white....hummmm I wonder if anyone would know why my altar cloths are those colors on Sunday? Awww...I will keep it to the traditional white cloth...with simple sugar skulls or Dead Bread...although...we are having pita bread will be present. are wondering where I am headed with this...who knows...I am feeling a bit weird I am just rambling. Have a great Friday....and whatever you chose to celebrate this safe!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I've Got People!

I went to counseling this week...and learned something I already knew...but guess I needed a reminder of it. I have a great circle of support. I mean...GREAT! I have friends who will cry with me, laugh with me, love me, hold me, clean up dirty messes for me, mourn with me, celebrate with me. I am one lucky person and I am blessed. One of the other great things about my circle of support is that I have a God who is there no matter what. No matter how lousy I am, no matter how hurt, low, high whatever...He is right there beside me. How can I miss? I am a truly fortunate one! I am blessed for sure. I have been writing thank you notes for the past week and have been amazed at how they continue to multiple...why? My parents have people...and so do I...wonderful people! John 15:13-15 tells us that "13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." I have learned a valuable lesson lately and that is that Jesus set a level for love that in a word is supreme. Jesus loves me and everyone else with a level of love that we will never be able to fully comprehend. Jesus came to this earth with one purpose in mind, laying down His life for us. After all I have experienced with my friends lately...I believe He was right there in all of them...smiling and loving me really good. I hope that I can return the favor and be that kind of friend to each of them. I want to be intune to my friends/family. Being a Friend of Christ means that you have His sacrifice (13)Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. My friends(and that includes my family)...have love like that. I am glad. Gene Blair, a man I work with sent my dear Mary a you tube video by Michael W. Smith (a Contemporary Christian artist that I love)...the song is called...Help is On the Way....I want to share it with you right now...because it has become my song....I was drowning in sadness...but Help found me...because my friends were holding me til it got there. O Happy Day!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Coming Home and Finding Peace

Woo mom is coming home today. Well...not exactly home...but back to the Dadeville Healthcare Center. She is being brought by ambulance so that we are not associated with the placement this time. She has been doing well at Brookwood. The only aggitation they have seen is in the morning during bath time....and that is part of dementia. They do not like baths. I find that odd. The Social Worker, Kelly, asked me not to be there when she arrived so that she could be settled down from the move. She said she thought it would be a good idea for us to go and see her after work. That way she would know that she is loved. Loved? Of course I love her...she is my mom. I am a bit apprehensive about this afternoon. I love my mother....I just hope I will love the person that is inhabiting her body now. I hope I get a glimpse of the old be honest...I just want a hug. I want to feel my mom's arms wrap around me...and pat me on the back. I know that may not happen...but in my heart of hearts I hope today it does. Frank is going with me...and he too is apprehensive about this. At first he did not want to go...but then thought about it and decided he loves her...and would go with me. we will face this challenge together. We went to counseling on Monday. I was nervous all day long. We waited in the outer office for the counselor to come and get us...and then we sat on a couch and spilled our guts for the next hour....she would ask us questions...and we would answer. She seemed very surprised that we seemed so close. She said in her summation...that the past 4.5 years would have been hard on any marriage...but it seemed to have drawn us closer together. I knew that! Griefus. Many times during the past few years I don't think I would have survived without Frank. He has been a God send. What a guy. I don't know what normal is going to be for us...but the Counselor said we were going to be ok!....then she rephrased that and said we were going to be better than OK. I liked that concept. I left feeling OK....for the first time in a long time. Life will go on...and we will find a new normal. Pray that my mother finds peace and an ability to live without my father. Happy Wednesday to you all!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Time For Everything

I was reminded today by a former student that there is a time for everything. His mom shared with me an English paper he had written called, "Life Among the Dead" and it made me stop and think...alot. He began his paper with a quote from "Turn Turn Turn" by the Byrds. It was done as a protest song to the Vietnam War...back in the the Byrds, Mary Hopkins, and Pete Seeger...but today...I had nothing to it was simply a reminder of the turn of events my life has taken over the course of the last six weeks. You see, I too had stopped by a cemetary, Hillview Cemetary, earlier in the week to check on my dad...and eventhough the flowers on his grave were all brittle and dry they still had a strange beauty to them....the dogwood tree and maple near the grave were both splendid with fall foliage, the air was crisp and cool and the evidence of seasonal change was everywhere. I walked from my dad's grave over to my brother's and then across the little roadway to my grandmothers and the rest of the family....I noticed that some of the graves between point A and point B had no flowers or sported very faded flowers....reminding me to be better about keeping flowers on the graves for which I was responsible. My dad loved flowers...His most favorite were peppermint azaleas and camilias. Anyways, I am digressing....while walking I noticed that some of the graves had new shiny markers...reminders that someones holiday's are going to be difficult this year...mine included. As many times as I have been to the cemetary over the years I became increasingly aware of the sites and smells that were around me. The studied little bell tower and noticed that it was needing some loving attention. I noticed new fall flowers had been placed on a number of the graves...a sign that someone loved this person and wanted their final place to look nice. There was a little chipmunk sitting right on top of my dad's flowers. He looked up at me as I approached but did not seem the least bit afraid of me. His eyes were kind of if mirroring my own. It has been a little over a week...and life does go on. After reading Addison's paper this morning I must borrow a thought from him..."the cemetary's primary purpose is to harbor the dead, [yet] it also supplies a quiet home for surrounding life to prosper." Addison was right in reminding me that "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." There is a time to be born and a time to die...and I was also reminded that...I can become a living dead....or make my life dad did...and I know he would expect me to do the same. Life goes on. Obla Di...Obla Da!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A State of Emptiness....

It has been a week since I posted anything on my blog. I have had nothing to give much has happened. Sunday, after the funeral, when most everyone had gone back home I knew it was time to return my mom to the nursing home. She was beginning to look confused and disoriented. So, Frank and I loaded her up, went by the cemetary, and took her to the Dadeville Healthcare Center...that is when all hell broke loose. The thing I was dreading most came to fruition and my mom snapped. I was going to bury my father...and lose my mother...on the same day. This is a child's worst nightmare. When we got to the Center...she refused to stay...she shoved me out of her way (and when I looked in her eyes I realized she had no clue who I was), kicked my daughter, and took a swing at Frank. The nursing home was not capable of dealing with her like we called in re-enforcements...Mary and Judy came...and spent the night with her. The doctor was coming to see her in the morning...and we were going to try and get her in a Psych ward somewhere. I sat outside the nursing home and cried....physically sick at my stomach...I had promised my dad I would take care of her...and now this was happening. Frank joined me on the curb...and I cried with him. We both agreed that counseling was something we needed to pursue. This whole adventure, from the missing parents to this was more than we could handle. After Judy and Mary arrived...we returned to my house....and slept wearily. Monday morning we got up and Barry and Joyce went to sit with my mom until the sitters could be arranged. Kat, Brian, and I went to see the doctor. He believed that she was a threat to herself and others and truly needed to be in a psych ward. They were all called....and there were no openings. We went home....worked around the house...and waited for a call. The call came at 5. We then had 2 hours to get her to Brookwood in Birmingham. Kat, Brian and Susan went to get my mom and bring her to Brookwood. Frank, Joyce and I went to Brookwood to give them my guardianship papers. We got there about 30 minutes ahead of them and made some arrangements. They arrived shortly after that and my mom was brought in....she was heavily medicated so she would be compliable. Once we had her 9:00...we all left and headed back. On Tuesday, Susan and I went back to Brookwood to take her glasses to her. Susan went in and saw her...and she wanted Susan to take her home. She kept insisting that nothing was wrong with her...and she could not understand why she was there. Weds. the social worker, Kelly called and said my mom seemed to be doing fine and she might get to go back to Dadeville on Friday after the Doctor evaluated her on Thursday...On Thursday morning I got a call from my mom...she beligerently asked me to come and get her...even after I explained that I was sick...she ended her end of the conversation with, "If you don't come and get me....I will just walk home." I told her to do what she felt she needed to do. An hour or so later I called the social worker and she told me my mom would NOT be coming home on Friday...she had tried to get out of the unit and had taken a swing at the tech when he tried to stop her. I was actually relieved...and I had known my not coming to get her would help her get the help she needed I would have done it on Tuesday. Friday rolled around and she called me and demanded I come and get her again. She said the doctor had said nothing was wrong with her and she could go home. I asked if there was someone there who could give me directions...and she gave me nurse, Shannon. Shannon said not to worry...she would not be coming home...the doctor had not said that...and that she was still trying to elope(escape). Kelly called later in the day and confirmed that it would be no earlier than Tuesday and that she would go back to the Dadeville Healthcare Center...via ambulance. She would not be able to come home...because she wanders. She would have to be in a locked down unit for her own protection. So here I is Saturday has been a week since my dad died...and was buried...and I would love to have my mom wrap her arms around me and tell me it is going to be alright...but you isn't going to be alright. My mom is gone and the woman inhabiting her body at the moment is a best friend Susan left for Knoxville a few hours ago...and I am alone for the first time since my dad died...and struggling with this. Keep us in your mom, my daughter, my sweet Frank, and me...death is a bitter pill to swallow...dementia...even more so. God Bless You all...and hug someone you love tonight and let them know you love them.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The End of an Era

It is early Saturday morning and already so much has been done and yet, there is so much left to do. Friday was such a disjointed day...It started out good...last day of the nine weeks, day before Fall Break begins, was not bad...until 7:05. My dear friend Anelia Bruce came to my room yesterday morning and wanted to talk about my dad and Thursday's move to the Healthcare Center. I had so much to do and really sat there wishing she would leave...when Frank walked in...and I knew from the look on his dad's batttle with cancer was over. I felt as if I had been gut punched. I vaguely remember getting from my desk chair to Frank's car(which he parked in the bus line in front of our school...a no no!)...I remember hugging my boss, getting in the car and heading to Dadeville. The normally 15-20 minute ride seemed like hours. My mom did not know yet...they were waiting for me to get there to tell her. She was asleep when we arrived and looking so precious. I had a few moments with my dad and then we woke her up. The rest of the day is a blurr. We held the body at the Healthcare facility until my daughter, Kat got cousin Judy, Kat, our D.S. (District Superintendent), his lovely wife, Jeannie, Frank's mentor, Dee Dowdy, and Blue came...along with Carol and Bill Meadows (Carol is a Hospice volunteer assigned to my dad....and her brother and his wife)all arrived and Dr. Stryker gathered us together and asked if we could lift up Blessed Assurance. I started it felt so natural to be singing. Then he followed up with the sweetest prayer...and then the Healthcare Center called Radneys to come and get my father. The rest of us headed back to the house to begin to deal with the process of my dad's death and grieving. Judy and I, with the help of Kat and Mary picked out the stuff for my dad, got some pictures together, cleaned house and received guests. We went to the funeral home 12:30 to make arrangements and iron out all the details of the rest of the weekend. While we were at the funeral home we viewed the casket my dad chose...picked out books...and those of you who have ever been here....know what this is like. I can't even tell you much about the hour we were there...a sweet young man droned...and I tried to keep up. BUT...when the sweet little girl came in to talk with us about the little programs people pick up at the visitation and other stuff...I nearly laughed out loud. Sitting on a table were something she called memory candles...she talked about them...I half listened...until she told us that they were made from the flowers of the funeral....all of a sudden that seemed like the grossest thing I have ever heard and I looked at all the people at the table, Kat, Mom, Mark, Judy, Frank...and realized that they thought so too...I coughed to keep from laughing out was just one of those moments...that laughing would NOT have been the right thing to do. Who ever thought of a memory candle...come on! Anyways throughout the day people were called, people called, food showed up, the day came and went. I have to laugh because about 8:30 my mom asked me who all these people were in the house....I told her they were family and friends who loved Daddy and love her....she then followed up with, "Will they ever go away?" I had to laugh...we finally got her to go to bed about 9:45...and my sweet Mary and my sweet Judy told me they were staying the night because my mom might wander off...They talked me into laying down about 12:30. The visitation will be tonight at Radney's....from 5-8. We will all gather at the Methodist Church in Kellyton for lunch on Sunday around 12:45...Daddy will lie in state at the Kellyton Baptist Church from 2 - 3...the funeral will be at 3...and burial will follow at Hillview. My dad will be buried next to my brother. I want you all to know that I am ok. I am pleasantly numb right now. My dad died exactly as I would have wanted him to...he fell asleep and never woke up. He was so at peace when I saw him for the first time...he actually had a little smirk on his "Ha Ha...beat cha!" And beat me he did...yesterday morning...when I got dad was already sipping coffee with Judy's dad Wilson, his two other brothers...Cecil and Drew...and playing catch with my little brother. Mark, Drew's son...said yesterday that my dad, "Never let a lie get in the way of a good story." you see...I get it honest...Drew, Cecil, Wilson, Doug....they all had a story for you...and after yesterday I can't wait to share them with you. Bless You Real Good.

Friday, October 9, 2009

When You Become the Guardian of Your Parents - Something Ain't Right!

Lawd what a week this has been. Yesterday I blogged about the Dadeville Healthcare Center and my parents(duh bet that was a surprise huh? I mean I have been telling you parent stories for how long now?) I am feeling that you know something ain't right when you become the guardian of your parents. It is just not normal for the roles to be reversed this far....but guardianship is what I am seeking. Back after their disappearance I went to a local lawyer to see what I could do to get some kind of power of attorney for my parents. He was so nice and told us what all would have to be done and said he would get right on it. Welll....more than a month passed...He never returned my calls....and most of the time his line was busy. Now I am at a point of desperation. My parents truly need a I called our local Probate Judge, Gloria Sinclair, and asked her what to do. She told me who to call....I did....had an appointment the next day....within 24 hours had Emergency Temporary Guardianship....and working on full Guardianship. Now, how come he couldn't do that? I have never in my life had to use a lawyer...even when I got a divorce...he had a lawyer...I just went in and signed. I guess lawyers sometimes don't realize that the cases they are taking on....are real people....with real needs....and real feelings. I had needs and they were urgent and current. My view of lawyers because of this is a bit skewed...and I guess that is how we all take stands on things in our how it has touched us...or someone we know and love. Life is amazing. Don't you think?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dadeville Healthcare Center

Today is Thursday and I went in to work...but did not stay. By 9:00 the Dadeville Healthcare Center people, Hospice, and the Lakeshore Community Hospital(where my parents were) had all called to tell me they were moving my parents to the Healthcare Center today at lunch and I needed to be there. I had forwarned my boss and his Administrative Assistant that this MIGHT happen....WHEW! I called downstairs and gave them a heads-up, went into Substitute plans mode, and prepared to leave school for the rest of the day. I picked up Frank enroute and we drove to Dadeville for the big move. When I got to the hospital I talked with my mom about what was happening...somewhat. I told her that Daddy needed some extra special care and that the hospital was sending him to the Healthcare Center and that they arranged for her to go too....I omitted the part that she was GOING too. We all have views of things because of things that we have experienced...or someone we love or know has experienced and I am no different. When I was a teenager I worked for a real-estate agent in Florida. Our office was next door to a nursing home facility. I used to park and walk by their open windows and have them call out to me in their little frail voices..."Help Me! They are hurting me! They are burning me!" One day...I got to work and shortly after I had arrived the F.B.I raided the place....and guess what...they were being hurt, burned, malnourished. They took all the little residents and placed them in other nursing homes...but the mark was there. Shortly after this incident my sweet neighbor Dobby and her sister Barty were placed. I was getting married and Dobby was not going to be able to attend my I took my dress to them...modeled it in the cafeteria....for Dobby, Barty, and a host of little ancients I had never met. They were so excited and I loved being able to do this for them...but one of the little ladies never uttered a word. I asked the Director about her...and she told me that she was one of the transfers from the raided nursing home. She had been scalded many times...and had never spoken since she got you think I have a colored view of nursing homes? You bet you bottom dollar...and here my parents are going. I have been beside myself this week...well...we got them placed...and I stayed long enough to see them both settled, feed my dad lunch, love on them both and then I had to go. I guess I got home around 3:00. I believe in my heart that this is best of them. I know it is best for my dad...he is past the stage of being taken care of at home...but it does not make it any easier...I have feelings of failure...My head knows we are doing the right thing...but once again my heart is in a quandry....darn that rascally heart. I wish it would get with the program!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Granny McCain

My Granny McCain lived with my grandparents in her later years. She was a pistol ball. Everyone needs a great grandmother like this one. She was a straight razor toting kind of woman with a viporish tongue. I have a memory of her that is funny now...I am sure it was not so funny when it happened...especially to my grandmother. When I was about 5 or 6, Terri would have been 4 - 5, Amanda 3 -4 and another grandchild was involved...I just can't remember which one. My granny McCain had this trunk in her room at my grandmother's house full of stuff little girls like...old dresses, gloves, hats, know little girl plundering stuff. Anyways...we were not allowed in her room unless she invited us in....and we were all standing at the door...longing for an invitation to plunder in the trunk. She sat in her chair...and smiled at us....she knew we were there...but she did not invite us in straight on. Finally, after the puppy dog looks...she held up some chocolate...and asked us if we wanted some. We all said yes and rushed to her side for a piece of the prized chocolate bar. It tasted heavenly. Back in my day...chocolate and cokes were special they are something kids expect everyday. We all ate the chocolate square and asked if we could have another one. Granny doled out another square around...patted us on our heads and sent us outside to play so she could take a nap. It did not take long for the CHOCOLATE to do its magic...and all of us were very sick. My grandmother's house only had one bathroom...and we were all in it. Two of us were sitting on pails and one on the toilet. I cannot remember ever being so sick. My grandmother did not know about the chocolate treat we had had...and when she found out...she was furious with my grandmother...who sat in her chair and looked very indignant because she was being fussed at. Moral of the may look like chocolate, taste like chocolate...but may be Ex-Lax in disguise.

Creek Mother

Turquoise, I believe you to be. Indian features tell of Indian ancestry. Turquoise, blue-green colors, blended expertly together to form one. Just like you and dad. Turquoise, bright and beautifyl, laced with silver. Your silver hair laces your face; beautiful to behold. Each turquoise stone is as unique as you are. Creek mother or gitano, whoever you are, turquoise is the color of your very being. Turquoise, I believe you to be, my very favorite stone.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Our House

On the outside it was just an ordinary house. It had four walls, windows with jalosies, a roof and two doors.Inside it was so much more than just an ordinary house.
It was a refuge from any sotrm, protection from all the world's evils,
a comfort, and a haven for rest.
This house was our house.
The place I grew up in, fell down in , loved in and was loved in.
My parents had big dreams when they bought this house in 1959.
They planned to raise their two small children with Christian values and neighbors.
Yet, this was not meant to be.
In 1963 the family was abbreviated and then there were only three.
The house was an empty place now.
While the people inside mended, God took care of this smaller family.
Within the house a healing took place.
This house was full of love; shown by my parents.
The house was full of God; taught by my parents.
The house was the kind of plae where a child could grow up,
make mistakes, and still feel loved.
The house is gone now, gone to dust.
Time marched on and the little house was unable to keep up.
The tools of today erased all of my yesterdays...
I learned a valuable lesson with the disappearance of the house.
A house was all that it was.
A building, brick, mortar, no more.
My HOME is wherever my parents are.
They are the lessons that I learned as a child.
They are the love that I have felt throughout my lifetime.
It is said that home is where your heart is,
and there was always a heart in my home.
My parents are God-fearing, God-loving, hard-working, family-oriented people
and this kind of person is hard to find today.
My father still loves my mother and she still loves him and I....
I love them both. For all the things they have taught me....
even when I did not want to learn.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Respite Units - Terminology I Wish I Did Not Have To Know

For most people and that includes me, Karen, daughter of Fred and Wilma, the thought of dying or caring for a terminally ill friend or family member has raised numerous fears and questions as old as humanity: I have asked myself what is a “good death”? What appropriate preparations should be made? How do I best support my dad as his life draws to its close? Yesterday, the Home Health nurse called me at school and told me that they could not do any more for my father and that they were referring him to Hospice again. The Hospice nurse, Ginger, who is a love, called me shortly after that and scheduled a meeting for this morning at 9:00. I arrived at the Meadows at 8:45 and found my mom sitting beside my dad, who was in the bed asleep, she was holding his hand. She looked up and told me he was so sick, had not eaten, and was so tired. I took her place beside him and held his hand while she went to return his breakfast plate, untouched, back to the kitchen. The two aids came and asked us to leave while they fed him an Ensure, changed, and prepared him for the day. Mom and I went to the TV room and waited. Ginger arrived a few minutes before 9 and went back to the room to see what was going on. Mom and I went to the Sun Room and talked a bit about stuff...why they could not come home, why her car was not fixed, what was wrong with daddy...on and on she droned. I told her sweetly at first that they could not come home just now because daddy needed more attention than we could give him....Hey...I have to work. I am not afforded the luxury of being a SAH caregiver. I told her the car was not fixed because she could not drive right now because of the Arecept. She balked on that one and got rather testy about her abilities to drive. She MAY be able to drive good...BUT...I can't take the chance that the alzheimers will cause her to pull another stunt like the last time I may not be so lucky. I then told her that there was something wrong with daddy....did she not remember he had cancer? "Oh yes," she responded..."but it is all better now." I came back with, "No it isn't momma. He was not able to finish the chemo and the cancer is back." She was oblivious to my words and I was frustrated with her oblivion. The Hospice nurse came to the Sun Room and told me she would need to speak to me as soon as she talked to her supervisor. The aid from the Meadows said that Peggy, the manager, wanted to speak with her I waited...knowing what was coming and hoping I was wrong. I was not parents had to leave the Meadows...and could go home...with 24 hour care....which we were not able to provide this weekend. I don't know what it is about people dismissing them without some kind of warning to me. All my mom heard was that they could go home and she was off and packing all their things...and loading them into my car. While she busied herself with their things, I signed all the Hospice papers again....this time I signed a DNR (Do Not Resusitate). Do you know how hard it is to sign your name to a DNR for your father? It was tough but I did it. AT 10:30 he was moved, by ambulance, to Lakeshore Community Hospital in Dadeville, AL to a respite/palliative care unit. They are giving him morphine to keep him comfortable and if he lasts the weekend it will surprise us all. By the time we got there they had him in a bed and they were taking his vitals. There is no drip, nothing piercing his skin, just oxygen. The morphine is oral. His skin is so thin. He has several nasty lesions on his legs and back where his skin has just torn. I left my mom with him at the hospital and came home to start getting my house ready for a hospital bed and their return....possibly on Monday if we can get everything in order. This is the end of the 9 weeks at school and I HAVE to work. I am already far behind where I normally am at this time of the year. I NEED to work. My sweet friend Mary came over and we cleaned...great therapy...and almost as good as retail therapy. Her precious son, Casey, came over and hauled off an old couch, a treadmill, an old desk chair, and a rug that my dachsund has ruined by being an alpha male. The room is now very sterile looking....waiting for a hospital bed...and its new dweller. Kat and Brian went by the hospital and then came by....we ended up grabbing some supper and going back to the hospital. My dad had eaten some...they physically fed him. He slept the whole time we were there...oblivious to the fact that he had company. So now life is on a minute to minute mode. I truly do want him not to hurt anymore. I know he wants to not hurt anymore. I am a big girl...and I will survive this. Now, if only my head would tell my heart. Sigh!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hard to Say Goodbye

The senior song has been announced and it is kind of is a song from several years ago....a very profound Boyz to Men. I think I loved this song the first time I heard it. I was sitting in my classroom and pulled the video up on you tube and when I heard the words it made me sad for a multitude of reasons. The biggest is all that is going on in my life....and the second is the fact that at the end of this year I will lose another group of kids I have grown to love. Sigh! When I get them as ninth graders I can never believe that I will survive until they are seniors and then one day....BAM! I wake up and they are picking out graduation invitations...Where did the time go? Every year I feel that same way...about different kids. I rejoice in their successes, pray for them when they are hurting, I hug them when they ask for one, I miss them when they are gone....ahhhh the life of a teacher. It really is sometimes so very hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Orchids - People in Disguise

I love orchids. I would have to say they are one of my favorite flowers. The other favorite would be Gerber daisies. Most women prefer roses...and don't get me wrong, I like roses...I just like orchids the best. There are so many kinds of them and they remind me of my childhood. My mom used to raise them and so did Susan's mom. I loved walking into our backyards as a kid and seeing them all dancing in the South Florida breeze...and yes, they do dance because the bloom is on a stalk. The orchid in my picture is one from a friends backyard. It is called a cattelya orchid. What do you know about orchids? Well as a kid I actually went to the library and researched my favorites. Dendrobium, Cattelya and Phalenopsis are my big three of favorites. What I found out about them was that "orchids belong to the most diverse family of plants known to man. There are over 880 genera, 28,000 species and well over 300,000 registered cultivars currently documented. These numbers only begin to tell the true story behind the evolutionary success of modern day orchids. Orchids are the most rapidly changing group of plants on earth and more new species have been discovered over the last few thousand years than any other plant group known. Orchids are also one of the most adaptable plant groups on earth. Some Australian orchids grow entirely underground, and many tropical jungle orchids grow in the upper branches of trees. Tundra, rainforest, mountain, grassy plain, desert and swamp environments contain numerous orchid species. Orchids produce seed pods with literally hundreds of thousands of seed that are released and scattered by the wind. Orchid seeds must establish a symbiotic relationship with a special fungus to survive its first year of life. The fungi gathers water and minerals for itself and the seedling, and the seedling shares its sugars from photosynthesis with the fungus. Only one or two orchid seeds will ever germinate and survive on that perfect crevice or depression that is both moist and has the fungus present. Even then, its chances to survive in the wild long enough to bloom are slim." So with that knowledge I came to respect the orchids that my mom and Susan's mom grew in the backyard. I discovered they are a lot like people....some of us survive where we bloom, others of us whiter away and die. Some of us die due to disease and starvation, yet...when we do bloom...we are matter where we are, no matter what species, no matter what color, no matter what. Orchids are one of God's most beautiful creations...but mankind is his most perfectly beautiful....because we were made in his image. Genesis1:27 (New International Version) tells us:" So God created man in his own image,in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And sometimes when down I am down on myself and think I am not worthy, I love to pull out my orchid pictures and I smile, I smile because when I look at them I know I AM BEAUTIFUL just like this orchid. God made me that way. Have a Terrific Thursday!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


If you are looking for one of the best high impact aerobic exercises ever...then Zumba is your poison. I went to a free Zumba class, I had to leave after 45 minutes instead of finishing the hour so I could get to Band practice...let me tell BUTT muscles hurt! I had my rear end kicked and handed to me on a silver platter. First off....I don't dance. I have no rhythm. I am a klutz on a dance floor. I wish I could look like the people in Dancing with the Stars...but alas...I look more like someone having a seizure on the floor. It is so very sad. Zumba is some of the coolest dance steps...with some of the most pulsating music....all rolled into one. Our teacher, Tia, was awesome. She was number one...gorgeous, number two did not have an ounce of fat on her anywhere, and number three....she had legs to die for. I loved watching her....even though I never looked quite as cool as she did...I tried it all....I squatted, cha-cha'ed, slid, squatted some more, kicked, moved muscles I did not know I had...or if I did I had forgotten and all that was in the first ten minutes. I looked at the clock and groaned. It would be another thirty minutes before I would look at the clock again....I was trying my best just to keep up and squat, pick up the correct foot while raising the correct arm....and by then my face was blood red. I could not get the redness to go down before I got to the church. I looked like a lobster. A glass of Milo's unsweet tea later...and my face was not quite so red...but 3 hours and a cool shower later...I am still feeling the sting. Zumba rocks I will say that. I can't wait now for next Monday night and Belly Dancing exercise class....who hooo...that will be fun. I had to pass on the Salsa class tomorrow night...what was I thinking....I bowl in a league on Thursday night. I must have had a part-timers moment. Anyways...I am working this week and next on endurance....for me....cause I am run/walking a 5K on October 10th in Dothan. It is a cancer walk/run and I am excited. Kat, Brian, Mary and I are all going to enter. I get a T-shirt...BTW...I hate T-shirts. They do absolutely nothing for me....round neck shirts have never been my favs...since I have this little short neck. the remodeling of Karen continues. I hit the 50 pound mark this week. I am halfway to my goal. Happy Hump Day Everyone! Zumba on Dudes and Dudettes!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Look Out Zumba....Here Comes Karen!

Wooo Hooo....I am going to a Free Zumba class on Weds. evening, a Free Salsa class on Thursday and a Free Belly Dancing (which I still have a good bit of) next Monday. We have a new dance place in our little town...and it is NOT one of those places where you learn tap and ballet...this is a place where you learn different kinds of dancing...the lady who runs it is Tia and I am so excited about getting to do this. Kat, my daughter has been to a belly dancing and zumba class at the YMCA in Montgomery...big towns always have lots of cool stuff to do....little towns...not so much. Anyways...I know what Salsa and Belly Dancing are...and I believe that the local Spanish teacher SHOULD be able to do a little Salsa-ing...don't you? But Zumba was something out of left field for me...had no clue what it was. My friends who have already attended one of the free classes...say it will kick your butt as far as exercise goes. Cool! So I decided to do a little research on it because I need a little stress relief and butt kicking therapy. "Zumba® fuses hypnotic latin rhythms and easy to follow moves to create a dynamic fitness program that will blow you away. The goal is simple: They want you to want to work out, to love working out, to get hooked. Zumba® Fanatics achieve long term benefits while experiencing an absolute blast in one exhilarating hour of caloric-burning, body-energizing, awe-inspiring movements meant to engage and captivate for life! Sounds like my kind of fun. I will have to post about it after I survive it. Remember...I am a 55 year old, sadly out of shape, overweight (but working on it) female. If it doesn't kill might make me stronger. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sweet Potatoes - YUCK!

I don't eat Sweet Potatoes. I didn't even eat them as a child. My mom would pull the labels off of the baby food jars and try to trick me with sweet potatoes...making me think they were carrots. I would spit them out instantly...I keep trying them but I just don't like the feel of sweet potatoes in my mouth. They are pithy. Anyways a few years ago a group of friends and I ate at the Piccadilly Cafeteria. Why you ask? I have no is just where we ended up. I hate cafeteria food almost as much as I hate sweet potatoes...but on the trail down the food line there was a dish labeled carrot souffle...that looked an awful lot like the sweet potatoe souffle I make at Thanksgiving and Christmas for my family. The server told me, "No ma'am...this really is carrots. The cook makes it because he does not like sweet potatoes." "Get out of here!" I thought to myself...someone else who does not like those nasty orange colored things....yooo hooo. I got a serving of the carrot souffle and dissected it at my seat. It was carrots and it was wonderful. It had the consistency of the other souffle I make...and that same brown sugar and nut topping. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I actually went back and got another serving to go for later. I actually planned to go home and dissect it and recreate it for myself. I was pleasantly surprised when the cook came out and gave me the recipe....but of course...his recipe makes a 200 serving dish. I only need one for I cut it down and want to share with you my recipe for Carrot Souffle. If you like carrots and sweet potatoes, you will like is good. If you don't like carrots but like sweet probably won't like this....but try it once anyways. I now take this to my family Thanksgiving each year and no one knows the difference....except me.
This is what the Piccadilly Souffle recipe should have looked like, but instead of using confectioners sugar and dusting it he used the traditional sweet potato souffle brown sugar topping and to me that made all the difference.

Carrot Souffle

2 pounds carrots, chopped finely or if you are lazy...get 32 ounces of canned carrots and drain them well
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup white sugar (can substitute Splenda)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, beaten
Toppings:1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar for dusting -original topping1 cup dark brown sugar - sweet potato souffle style topping1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add carrots and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash. To the carrots add melted butter, white sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla extract and eggs. Mix well and transfer to a 2 quart casserole dish. For Toppings:Prepare the topping in a small bowl by whisking together the brown sugar, flour, butter and pecans(sweet potato style). Sprinkle mixture over potato mixture and bake for 35-40 minutes depending on your oven.
If you use the confectioners sugar method dust the souffle with confectioners sugar when you remove it from the oven.
With the Thanksgiving Holidays coming up I thought you might enjoy a new/old recipe to try out! Have a Wonderful Monday!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Conch for a Day

This is one of my favorite places, Mallory Square in Key West, FL. I have kidded with my friends over the years that this place is to be my final resting place. Actually my exact words were...when I die I want all my friends to gather at Sunset at Mallory Square, I want Richard Forehand and Rexton Lee (two former students) to play the Kansas song Dust in the Wind as my ashes are scattered to the four winds. Sounds romantic huh? Actually there truly is no pretty place on earth than the sunsets at Mallory Square and when I do would not be a bad way to go. The center of Key West's historic waterfront, Mallory Square stages the famous Key West sunset
celebration and that is what I want my passing to be a big celebration. I think the Irish are on to something with their famous wakes. The Historic Mallory Square and the city of Key West both had their beginning along this deep harbor waterfront -the wrecking schooners, the frigates and warships of the US Navy, the Cuban cigar makers tobacco warehouses, ship's chandlers and government offices combined to make Key West a bustling seaport out on the frontier of a young America. Today, Mallory
Square is a Key West must see. You will find exciting attractions(street jugglers, entertainers, Hemingway's House,, the unparalleled shopping of Duval Street, the Key West historic sculpture garden and of course, every evening, the famous sunset celebration. If you ever decide to plan a trip of a need to go to Key West and spend at least one evening at Mallory Square taking in the most breathtaking sunsets ever. It is truly one of the places you want to see before dying...oh and while you are a piece of Key Lime Pie ( I am enclosing my own personal recipe) and sample some conch fritters...they are a local must! Bon Appetit!
Karen's Famous Key Lime Pie Recipe
When you take a bite of this pie, you'll understand why key lime pie is such an awesome experience. It is well-loved in my household that is for sure!

Servings: Makes one (9-inch) pie
Serving Size: not available
Nutrition: See Below
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 0

3 eggs, separated
1 (14-ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1/2 cup key limes lime juice...regular lime juice does not make a key lime pie
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust (you can use a grahm cracker crust if you prefer.
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 325°F. In medium bowl, beat egg yolks on low speed; gradually beat in EAGLE BRAND® and lime juice until smooth. Stir in food coloring (optional). Pour mixture into pie crust. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 350°F. In large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar on medium speed, 1 tablespoon at a time; beat 4 minutes longer or until sugar is dissolved and stiff glossy peaks form.
Immediately spread meringue over hot pie, carefully sealing to edge of crust to prevent meringue from shrinking. Bake 15 minutes. Cool 1 hour. Chill at least 3 hours. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator. Notes: Tip: For a lighter filling, fold 1 stiffly beaten egg white into filling mixture. Proceed as directed. If you are watching your weight...this pie may not be for you. There is nothing low fat about it. My suggestion is to take an extra pass around the block after you eat a piece...because this pie is NOT something you want to pass up.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Carla and Her Amazing Story

Yesterday I told you about my two oldest friends, Carol and Susan. What I didn't tell you was that when Carol and I were 15 Mrs. Geiger had another child, Carla. There was already sister Cathy who was three years younger than we were...but along came Carla. She ruled the roost as a small child. We would give her anything she wanted, do anything she wanted...she was precious. This child could eat some more cookies. She loved them. My mother and father both adored her. Heck, all the neighbors did. All of the once children of El Prado had gone on to become adults...and then there was Carla. When she was four I moved away. I kept up with Carla through her sister, Carol and actually saw her from time to time over the next 15 years and one day I turned around and she was graduating from the University of Florida. Where had the years gone? She looked just like she did when I left Florida and moved to Alabama...just an older version and still had a wonderfully fun personality. You can't be around her but just for a few minutes and she will have you in stitches...and what a life she has led. To quote her own desciption she was a professional band geek – she spent four years in the high school band, five years of band at the University of Florida (where she switched majors to Music Education so that she could officially be a “professional” band nerd), six years as a clarinet/saxophone instrumentalist with the U.S. Navy, five years teaching band at St. Augustine H.S. & Pedro Menendez H.S., two years as a graduate assistant with the Gator Band at UF (earning a master’s degree in band geek a/k/a instrumental conducting), two years as a graduate assistant with the Husky Marching Band at the University of Washington (where she actually completed the coursework for a PhD in music ed but she is not quite ABD), and two years as the Associate Director of Bands/Director of Athletic Bands at Florida International University in Miami. This past year she hit a big milestone....she turned 40. Where did the years go? When did I hit 55? All of a little four year old now forty and still going strong. In January of 2009 she was forty, overweight, and so...she did what most of us do...(no she did not sit down and eat a package of oreos)...she actually lost her job...the music program at FIU was eliminated due to budget cuts. How can you have a football program without a band? Answer me that please? I mean...there are those of us who actually go to the games...and watch them for the halftime shows. I know I do and I know there are others like me in this world. I was NOT a band geek, but I am married to one (Frank played for the Big Green Indians of Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, FL and Kat and Brian were both part of the Pride of Alexander City with the Benjamin Russell High School Marching Band (said with pride...Kat was the drum major her senior year)...Back to Carla though...she has become a runner, having started in January with her first race. She is training for a sprint triathlon and a half marathon, and that’s just the beginning. She is very much looking forward to officially earning the title of “endurance athlete”, and She is once again loving life in our hometown of West Palm Beach. She has entered several 55 I could not just become a runner...I would have to become a walker first...then maybe a power walker...then maybe a jogger....then possibly a I would not kill myself. I am so very proud of this girl. She has done wonderful things in her 40 years...and the best that at age 4...she was my best friends little age 40 I consider her a dear friend. Keep running Carla...I am cheering for you! You Go Girl!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Old Friends - One is Silver and the Other Gold

I am a fortunate person. I have some great friends. Some have been friends for a short period....others have been friends for over 50 years. Chuck and Sue fall into the later least Sue does. Chuckles comes along by default. Susan and I met I think the first day I moved into the neighborhood on El Prado. She lived just around the corner and we had so much in common it was eerie. We still do....and the funny thing is that we can be apart from each other for months at a time and when we get together it is as if no time passed at all. When my parents disappeared I called Sue...she is my daughter Kat's godmother(not the fairy kind)...and I needed one of my fiercest praying friends. I wanted some prayer results that first I called and left her a message. On Thursday, they were on their way down. I can't tell you what having them here did for me. During their entire visit I did not have to think...they did it for me. I just had to function and that was about all I could do. What an amazing friend Susan is. I can't imagine life without her...or Chuck in it. I am blessed with amazing friends like them.
Most people are lucky to have one special friend in their life. I have several....but only two old ones that I am still in contact with. I know for a fact that I met Carol on my very first day in the neighborhood and to quote Mr. Rodgers...when I met WAS truly a beautiful day in my neighborhood. I did not want to move to El Prado...of course I was only 5 years what did I know. Carol was the cutest thing I had ever seen. She was so tiny. My little two and a half year old brother was taller than she was at age 5. She was the first person I ever knew with a birthday on or near Christmas...and I always felt a bit sad for her because people would only give her one gift...for both. I have always made a habit of giving her one for each(wrapped in birthday and Christmas paper too)...this is a practice I continue to this day. If you look at her picture she does not look any different than she did when we were younger....lots younger...Carol was with me when my brother died. She has heard me wail and moan over some boy, she has done things we really shouldn't have done with me, started kindergarten with me at Vedado Park, walked to school with me the first time we were allowed to, ridden bikes with me, spent the night with me, was a Brownie with me, we were inseperable. She called my dad Derf...he called her lorac....(their names backwards)...she was so effervescent. The only thing we didn't do...was share smarts. For Carol learning happened...for me it was an uphill climb everyday. I have begged her more than once to hold her report card until after some event I wanted to I would not be grounded. She has always been a thoughtful friend. We shared a major love of music and she has compiled a whole series of CD's for me with music through the ages. Not only do I love this gift, but my daughter Kat loves it too. She borrows them from time to time for some project she is doing. I love the fact that although we are mother and daughter and we weren't born in the same era...sometimes I feel as if we were. Carol, on my 40th birthday made me a scrapbook of things I had forgotten. I was telling someone the other day about how different I am now than I used to be. 40 years ago...I would never have spoken in front of people. There was a trash can at the door to the sanctuary for me to vomit in before a solo...and somewhere between here and there...I have forgotten that person...and become who I am today. It is nice from time to time to revisit who we once gives us a new respect for who we now are. Carol's husband Jeff went to school with us. He is the handsome blonde guy in the family photo. He definitely has not aged a bit. Jeff and I bowled together when we were in college and we also rode to classes together. Jeff had a bright red camaro. It was fun riding with him. He had a great sense of humor and was crazy about Carol. I think I was perchance a wee bit jealous of that fact at age 18. I moved to Alabama at 19, met and married my first husband and the rest was history....and you know I understand a lot about is important...because history (even your own) is what connects you to the past...and allows the future to be. Carol lives in South Carolina now. Her husband has retired. Talk about six degrees of separation....they live in Summerville, SC....where my sweet Frank hailed from. Who knows we might eventually settle there ourselves when I retire....ahhh retirement....that is another topic for another day! Friends are wonderful to have. I am lucky to have the ones I have...Old friends are the best. They knew you when...and still manage to love you. Thank You my two oldest and dearest friends. You are both very special to me. I can't imagine my life without either of you in it...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stop #1 on My Lighthouse Travels

I love lighthouses and throughout my life have visited many of them. I have always wanted to spend a summer being a volunteer lighthouse keeper...but does not ever seem to happen. Yaquina Head (Yakina Head) lighthouse is one of the first I ever visited on the west coast of the United States and I loved it. I have actually been there twice. Once with some friends when I was in college at Whitman in Walla Walla, and once with my daughter and Amanda and her family. Both times I loved this place. It is my dream lighthouse. Oregon's Tallest Lighthouse is Yaquina Head. This lighthouse is one of the most-visited on the west coast with over 400,000 visitors each year. when it was being built it took approximately one year, and over 370,000 bricks from San Francisco, to construct Yaquina Head, also known as Cape Foulweather Lighthouse. There was trouble with the lighthouse from the very beginning. Construction work began in the fall of 1871 but was often delayed due to the horrendous Oregon winter. Boats bringing materials often had difficulty landing in a cove on the south side of the head. Two boats were overturned and lost all their cargo. The lighting of the first Fresnel lens was delayed for almost two years due to parts being lost in transit. The light has since been active since Head Keeper Fayette Crosby walked up the 114 steps, to light the wicks on the evening of August 20th, 1873. During early times the oil burning white light was visible from sunset to sunrise. The light was automated in 1966. The original 1873 lens is still in place, but now it is illuminated by an electric 1,000 watt globe that generates over 130,000 candlepower. This lighthouse has a signature ….that is the light shines two seconds on, two seconds off, two seconds on, then 14 seconds off. The lighthouse has been renovated and has a new "old look." The purpose of the renovation project was to restore its 1873 appearance. More restoration work is planned. This particular lighthouse was used as the setting for the "Moesko Island Lighthouse" in the 2002 film The Ring. It also appeared in Dead Man's Curve (1998), Hysterical (1983) and Nancy Drew: Pirates Cove (1977). If you like lighthouses as much as I do I would encourage you to check this one out. She really is a beauty standing up so straight and tall against the Oregan skyline. But...don't just take my word for it....go check her out yourself. I promise you won't be disappointed....and BTW...while you are there head south and check out the sea lion caves and Heceta Head lighthouse. Another beauty...especially at sunset.