Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Mornings

For years I dreaded Monday morning. In fact, a feeling of dread began to grow in me on Sunday evening. I did not like going to bed Sunday night because I knew when I woke up it would be Monday morning.

There are people who love their jobs. Their work defines them and they are restless and unsatisfied if they are away from their work for too long.

I am not one of those people. I have had a lot of jobs in my life. Some of them I liked, some of them I hated, one I liked a lot (it was the only one where I actually looked forward to going to work).

But the job that I loved and found very fulfilling is one that is treated condescendingly in the current social climate. I loved being a homemaker for my family. One day I will write more about that.

During my years of paid employment, I dreaded Monday morning because it meant leaving my home, jumping back on the treadmill of trying to wedge family time, personal time, chores time, errands time, and church activities time into days where there was just not enough time. Weekends were looked forward to, but passed at light speed, crowded with trying to get all the things done that there wasn't enough time to do during the week.

And then it was Monday morning again; rush around getting ready, grab a bite of breakfast, and out the door.

Things are different now. I am retired, my kids are grown, I am widowed. My time is mostly my own. My calendar is clear. There is no pressure to Monday morning.

I may miss many things about the years of raising my children, the years of companionship with a great husband, but I do not miss the harried feeling as Monday morning approached and I knew I would again be leaving my home for The Job.

Monday mornings are just fine!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

History Just Keeps Repeating Itself

I've been a Bible reader since I was a child. Each time I read it I find new insights. What I see and understand is different at different ages and different life circumstances. I also read different translations. A little difference in choice of wording by translators can catch my attention and shed light to my understanding.

Reading the Bible as an adult focuses my thoughts on what I read in a way that is different from what I focused on as a child (the stories and adventures!).

One thing that is inescapable to me now is how human nature has not changed a bit in the last several thousand years (David lived 3,000 years ago; read his psalms and you will find his emotions very familiar).

Even the historical accounts have a very familiar ring to them. The same nations, the same tribal and ethnic backgrounds, are behaving in the same ways seen in the Bible. The same folks are still fighting with each other over the same territories. Thousands of years and they still have not learned to live in peace and stop the killing!

The prophets do, many, many times, give a message from the Lord that there will come a time of absolute peace and safety. Lord, we are so looking forward to that time!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie

Spring 1945--Daddy home on leave
before shipping out to the Philippines
In the beginning of 1945, toward the end of WWII when fighting in the Philippines was intense, my father was called up to the army. Daddy was 35 years old and the father of three, a category that would not ordinarily been eligible for the draft. The war had, by that time, consumed so many men that it was necessary to expand the reach of the military. The other soldiers in Daddy's training group were all very young men, so he was nicknamed "Pappy" by them. After basic training, he was sent to the Philippines. While they were on the ship the effective end of the Pacific war was gained, so his group was clean-up crew rather than in the active fighting.

All that background is in explanation of why our Mother took a teaching job for a rural school located only three miles from the homestead where she grew up. This was the Teckla School. It was on Teckla Putnam's land. She was the Postmistress for that area; thus, the Teckla Route, Teckla Post Office, and Teckla School.  This school had three students, two of Mrs. Putnam's grandchildren and a girl from a neighboring ranch. We McLaughlin girls brought the total to six.

I had turned four years old in July of 1945. (I remember that my birthday wish before blowing out my candles was for my Daddy to come home.) Because there was nothing else to do with me during school hours, Mother took me to school with her. She and my young uncle Bob made a little desk for me out of an orange crate (they were wood in those days). Mother taught me to read from the first grade reading series featuring Dick, Jane, Sally, their parents, and their pets, Spot the dog and Puff the cat. I loved reading! Having learned to read at such a young age, I cannot remember what it was like to not be able to read.

Mother with her students: Forest, Terry, Lois, Mother, Michelle, Grace, JoAnne
Conditions were very different in 1945 than they are now. Teckla School was a one-room building, heated by a wood or coal stove. The rest room was an outhouse--no such thing as running water or flush toilets. Water for the school, Mrs. Putnam's house, and the teacher's house, came from a pump in the yard. This was the old fashioned pump that you poured a little water in to prime the pump, then pumped the handle up and down vigorously until water flowed into the bucket.

Grace, Michelle, Terry in front of
the Teacherage
The teacherage that we lived in was a one-room tar-paper shack. I think it probably started out as a homesteader's shack. It was very small. To accommodate her family, Mother created bunk beds from two double bed mattresses. She slept on the bottom with one of us and the other two slept above. The beds took up almost half the space. There was a drop-down table leaf under one window. In order to have any space to move around, this was kept folded down except when we were actually eating. We had a small coal stove for heating or cooking. The inside walls were not finished. Just the bare framework of the building, no insulation. Large nails pounded into the 2 X 4s provided a place to hang our clothes. Such primitive conditions for housing a teacher and her family would be unthinkable today! On photos Mother sent to Daddy she called us "The Rabbits and the Hutch."

That little building was later moved to my uncle's place, where it was used as, first, a chicken house, and, later, a storage shed!

With the war over, Daddy got released from the army and returned home early in 1946. Since he was coming home, Mother resigned her teaching job at the semester break and we moved back to our home in town. I always felt like my birthday wish had come true!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's Allergy Season

Yesterday was a beautiful day. It was so lovely I opened windows around my house to let in fresh air. By evening, my nose was swelling shut, my throat was itching, and my eyes were swelling and irritated. It's definitely allergy season!

After a long winter I am thrilled to have a real spring this year. Every thing is growing, pollinating, and blooming.  I love it!

But. . .I am one of the many unfortunates who also have many allergies. That means that while I delight in the beauty of the season, can hardly wait each winter for spring to come, and love, love flowers and the flowering trees, I pay for time spent outdoors with allergies.

I have learned to mostly keep my house closed up and depend upon the air conditioner to cool it when temperatures rise. That way I can spend some time outdoors and then come inside to escape the allergens. That, plus Zyrtec, keeps me in pretty good shape. But, sometimes, I just want to open some windows. And then I pay for it.

Some of the swelling and outbreak on my face.
My worst allergy experience of recent years, however, had nothing to do with pollen. Last spring I irritated my back by moving heavy bags of potting soil while planting flowers in my numerous deck pots. It was very painful. I was prescribed a painkiller, Feldene, that was supposed to be better than Ibuprofen and longer lasting. It did warn it could increase sun sensitivity, like so many medications do. I am always careful of the sun anyway, because I am very fair-skinned and sunburn easily. But I learned that the sun sensitivity with this medication was beyond anything I had ever experienced. When I first developed a little rash, I quit taking it. The effects, however, did not wear off for more than a week. The rash kept developing, finally creating spots that I can only compare to the burns caused by hot grease splatters. When it reached that point, with the extra added attraction of generalized swelling on all exposed skin, I ended up in the emergency room. I still have several faint scars from the worst of the burns.
My right hand and lower arm. Thank goodness I was
wearing 3/4 length sleeves!

That medication is definitely on my "Never Take This Stuff Again" list!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Family Traditions

2004--Megan had definitely had
visits from the Tooth Fairy!
I was invited to go with my sister Grace to her ladies' Bible study group's end of the season luncheon. It was a very nice event; the hostess and her daughter had gone to a lot of work to provide a special and beautiful lunch. Before the lunch we had a devotional and then visited for a time. In the conversation, the topic of the Tooth Fairy came up with one of the young mothers. This reminded me of a tradition that developed in our family when our daughter and son were losing teeth.

Every family has traditions. Some are part of traditions passed down in the parents' families. Some are new that grow in the new family and then become traditions that move on to the next generation. In our case, we started a new Tooth Fairy tradition.

When our daughter, Anne Marie, lost her first tooth, her Daddy not only slipped a coin under her pillow, but he left a note from the Tooth Fairy. He wrote the note in backwards writing, so that it had to be held up to a mirror to read. Of course, the Tooth Fairy wouldn't just write an ordinary note! As the years went by and the teeth came out, the mirror-writing notes from the Tooth Fairy were looked forward to by our kids as much as the little bit of money they found under their pillows.

When our granddaughter, Megan, began losing teeth, Anne Marie took on the job of Tooth Fairy, leaving mirror-writing notes for her daughter. Megan, in turn, wrote back to the Tooth Fairy, and would include tiny presents (fairy-sized) such as a bit of gum or candy. These kinds of traditions are a lot of fun, and are important in building special family bonds.

I was amused when I sat down at my computer this morning to find another family tradition mentioned in my grandniece Maria's blog (  "Drive safe and sanitary" has been in the family for many years, and has even spread to friends and acquaintances!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fairy Tales

I'be already blogged about my enjoyment of fantasy and tales of imaginary worlds and situations. But I am obviously not alone in this form of escapism. Of late there have been many movies and TV cartoons based on comic book heroes, ancient myths, and fairy tales. This year Snow White has become the center of two big movies and a TV series. There must be something in the air that focused so much attention and money on producing re-pictured tales about this fairy tale character!

First, there is the TV series Once Upon a Time. Although Snow White and her wicked stepmother queen are the core of the story, this series finds ways to bring in just about every fairy tale character you've ever heard of. It is an interesting series, very twisty, and looks to go on a long time. Its premise is that a curse has brought all these people from the dimension of a world where magic exists, to the world of our reality. With a very few exceptions, they don't remember their true identities or their lives in the other world.

Then there is the Julia Roberts movie, Mirror, Mirror. My granddaughter and I went to see it recently. Although I read some tepid reviews of this film, we loved it. It is a hoot. We laughed out loud several times while watching it. Where else are you going to find the seven dwarfs with names like Wolf, Half-Pint, or Butcher?

And, finally, trailers advertising yet another movie, Snow White and the Huntsman, are now being shown on TV. This movie apparently takes yet another tack on the old fairy tale. It comes out in June, and the trailer looks like it will feature battles between opposing armies, among other things.

It is odd that so many re-imaginings of this old tale are happening at the same time. However, for those of us who like tales of imagination, it makes for fun comparing the different views and enjoying the possibilities.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Grandma's Bread

Fresh bread warm from the baking is a treat for both the taste buds and the nose. I have a bread machine that makes baking a loaf of bread very simple, but the best bread I ever ate was the bread my grandma made.

On baking day Grandma's house was filled with the aroma of fresh, hot bread. Living without electricity or natural gas meant that all of Grandma's cooking was done on a coal or wood fired kitchen range. She could not set an automatic control and have her oven heat to just the right temperature. Nevertheless, she was a world-class baker. The aroma alone was enough to set one's saliva flowing and stomach growling. As good as the homemade bread was, my favorite thing was her light bread biscuits (as distinguished from ordinary baking powder biscuits). These yeast rolls came out of the oven with a light, crisp crust on the outside and a fluffy, tender inside. Add home churned butter and they were melt-in-the mouth treats.

Grandma could, I believe, bake anything. She made a delicious date nut loaf for special occasions, and I've never tasted lemon meringue pie as good as hers (all made from scratch, of course). But it is the memory of her light bread biscuits and the smell of her bread baking that takes me back to her home and her kitchen.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Travel Trailers Then and Now

My Mother's oldest photo book contained photos from her teenage years. During those years she and her sister Elsie boarded in town to attend High School. Mother had started school when she was four years old, graduated from eighth grade at age twelve, and did the first year of high school by correspondence. The family's homestead was sixty miles from town, and traveling sixty miles was not as easy in the 1930s as it is today. When she was fourteen Mother started tenth grade in town.
Rose posing

My sister Terry had scanned the photos from those years, and gave each of her siblings a disc with the photos. When I decided to print out copies for myself (I like book form better then just going through pictures on the computer), I found a group I did not quite understand. My mother and her sister were posing beside what looked like a small shed, but the label on the pictures called it "mobile home." The next time we visited my Aunt Elsie, I asked her about it.

Boyce beside his car and trailer.
She told us that it was a travel trailer built by their brother Boyce, which he could take with him to various jobs. For a time he parked it by the house where the girls boarded. Elsie remembered that one summer Rose (our Mother) lived in it. I could absolutely see her doing that, as she was a woman who loved having her own nest--a trait she passed down to her five daughters.

Another thing Elsie remembered about this homemade travel trailer was that her older sister Vera stayed in it while awaiting the birth of her first child. At that time Vera and her husband lived in the general area of my grandparents' homestead--a long way to try to travel to the hospital when in labor.

I asked my aunt what was inside the trailer. The only thing she really remembered was a bed. There wouldn't have been room for much more, though Mother or Vera may have put in a little more for their stays.

The slide-out section is not slid out
in this photo.
What a difference today! My daughter's family has a lovely little travel trailer that they take to the mountains in the summer. It has a slide out section where the sofa is, which gives more floor space when it is parked. It has a tiny, but fully functional, bathroom. It has a kitchen stove, sink, and refrigerator--all small but functional. It has lots of built in storage, two bunk beds, and the sofa opens for another bed. All the comforts of home!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Growing Up On Canned Milk Cocoa

My parents had very little money, but tried to make sure their children had sufficient nutrition to be healthy. Mother, a very intelligent woman, read government bulletins about what children should be fed. One very important item was milk for strong bones and teeth.

After her babies were weaned Mother introduced us to canned milk cocoa. Fresh milk was not as easily available as canned evaporated milk, and was more expensive. Her cocoa recipe was simple, kept us drinking milk, and, we thought, it was delicious. We would drink several glasses a day. It was our favorite snack and gave us fuel to keep going with our play or to refuel us after school. When I got tall enough to reach the sink faucets, I made my own cocoa whenever I needed a snack. I remember being teased about my cocoa "mustache" and the fact that my shirts often had cocoa marks on the shoulder where I wiped my mouth. (No, I don't still do that!) As an adult I've lost my taste for canned milk, with fresh milk so readily available. But I give a good deal of credit for my strong teeth and bones to Mama's canned milk cocoa!

Our parents bought the canned milk by the case. There were two brands available: Pet Milk and Carnation Milk. For some reason Mother favored Pet Milk, so I grew up thinking it superior to Carnation Evaporated Milk. I don't think there was really any difference, but a kid thinks whatever Mama chooses is the best.

Carnation Milk's label had a picture of a carnation on it. It was pretty, but I found the Pet Milk label absolutely fascinating. It showed a can of milk with a cow's face peeking out. And on the label of the can the cow was peeking out of, was another can with another cow peeking out! I was tickled when I found this old illustration on the Pet Milk website.

Illustration is from the Pet Milk website.
The recipe for our cocoa was easy: Put 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cocoa in a glass and stir the two together. Add a very small amount of hot water from the faucet and stir (this mixed the cocoa and sugar into a syrup so the cocoa didn't clump). Add 1/2 glass of hot water and fill to the top with canned evaporated milk.

When I had weaned my own first child at the age of 14 months, I discovered that she did not like cows' milk and refused to drink it. Mother's old cocoa recipe came to the rescue. She did like it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Drilling in a Dry Hole

Today I am drilling in a dry hole. I am totally uninspired. My brain is not entirely empty, but it is empty of anything I feel like blogging about.

So. . .

A few things for family.

Happy Birthday, Maria!

And a couple of cute photos from days gone by (this is about where I am in working on Mother's old photo book).

These photos are probably from 1941 when Terry was about four and Grace about three.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Skill Sets

My niece Tina has blogged about how grateful she is for her new dishwasher ( Tina gets around in a wheelchair, so hand-washing dishes at a standard height sink was a difficult and sloppy job. But that was what she had had to do for quite some time. Reading Tina's blog started me thinking about all the changes and progress that has occurred over the last hundred years or so in all things mechanical and digital.

It made me think about how the world worked in my grandparents' youth, in my parents' youth, and throughout my own life. As technology moved from horse and buggy days, to railroads, to aviation, to the space age, and from hand-copied or hand-set-type printed materials to the vast possibilities in computer-prepared printed materials, new skill sets had to be developed. As these new skills were developed, old skills became outmoded and lost.

One of the things that the currently popular post-apocalyptic literature deals with is how people learn to cope and survive when the technology they are accustomed to no longer works and they do not know how to do things without it.

In just the 70 years of my life things have changed dramatically. The first car I remember my parents having was a little old Ford with a rumble seat. It had to be cranked to start the motor! (If you don't know about rumble seats and cranking, look it up!) Today's automobiles are highly computerized. Some talk to you; some can even automatically parallel park for you. I, for one, am really glad not to have to crank my car every time I want to go somewhere!

My son-in-law, Chad, is fascinated by old things. Some of the "antiques" he has collected are things that were great advancements for my grandmother and mother and were still used by me when I was in my 20s. For example, the wringer washing machine. Before the electric wringer washer, laundry was a hard-labor job. My mother remembered her mother loading the buggy with kids and laundry and taking them to a spring located not too far from their log house. And that is where she did laundry when the weather was mild. The rest of the time water was heated on the coal range, poured into a galvanized wash tub, scrubbed on a washboard (something else you might need to look up!), then rinsed in another tub of cold water. When the job was done, the washtubs had to be emptied--again, a labor-intensive job. When my parents were first married, Mother did laundry in the bathtub with a washboard. So the wringer washer and rinse tubs were a really big step in making wash day easier. Then, of course, the laundry was hung on a clothesline outdoors to dry. Still a lot of work, but much kinder to the back and knuckles.

Today, I might think, with a sigh, that it's laundry day. Then I move my laundry basket from the closet, where it is kept out of sight, approximately 15 feet to the compact laundry closet containing my stacked set of washer and dryer. Turn on the water, pour in the detergent, toss in a load of clothes, shut the lid and let the machine work. Take out the damp laundry, move it up into the dryer, turn it on and walk away until it beeps to let me know it is time to take out the clean, dry laundry. Oh, my, such hard labor!

This is growing too long. I may continue following this line of thought another day.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why Am I Blogging?

When the term "blog" first began showing up, I had no idea what it was. I seemed to hear it usually on the news referring to some item of interest or controversy posted on the internet, but still did not really know what it was all about.

Then I heard that anyone could have a Blog. My question to myself was, "Why?" The second question was, "How would anyone know where it was or that it existed in order to start reading it?"

Then I heard that a grandniece had a blog. Then that her mother had a blog. Then that another niece had a blog. But I did not know how to find their blogs. Finally I asked my sister (the mother and grandmother of these bloggers) for the address of one of them, and that led me to the others.

While it still did not necessarily answer my question as to why someone would want to put so much personal information on the internet, I found that I very much enjoyed reading their posts. I learned to know them better. I loved the family photos. I found myself looking forward each day to reading their posts.

One day, when my niece who writes the Only the Manager blog was visiting her mother, we talked about blogging and she encouraged me to blog also. I thought about it. I even bought the Blogging for Dummies book and started to read it. Too Much Information! When it started talking about establishing your own domain and what the costs might be, I decided I really wasn't that interested.

Some time later my niece, Susan, nudged me again, and I learned that using Blogger was both easy and free.

Still, this doesn't answer the question of why I would want to blog.

Do I think I write such deathless prose that the world is waiting to read it?  Well, no.

Do I think that the moment I post something hundreds, nay thousands, of people from around the world are going to be waiting to read it? Again, no. I do not suffer from delusions of grandeur.

Do I think my thoughts and opinions are so very, very important that people should have access to them? No. One of the reasons I hesitated to blog at all was the reluctance to expose my thoughts so publicly.

So, why?  For me, I think it came down to two basic reasons. I don't know which is most important to me.

1) It is a way to keep in touch with family. I loved the family blogs I was reading daily.

2) I'm doing it for the mental exercise. Writing forces a person to focus, organize thought, and seek to express thought in a clear, concise, readable manner. It is so easy in these retirement days to be mentally lazy. Doing the daily Cryptoquote and crossword puzzles in the newspaper provides mental challenge, but not enough. Reading books is pleasure and learning, but not terribly demanding. Accepting the discipline of writing a blog is good for my brain!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April Showers

The wind arranged my deck furniture a few days ago. And four
of the chairs are tied to the table legs to keep them from
This year Spring has been rather unusual. We had a nice wet February, but March, which often is the month of the most snow and the biggest blizzards, was almost dry and warmer than normal. With this came wind, sucking up all that nice February moisture. As wind storm followed wind storm, it began to look like we'd better learn to breathe dirt because there was so much dust in the air.

The newspaper reported that the trees were about four weeks ahead of normal in putting out leaves and flowers. I've lived in this region for a long time, and don't remember ever seeing the crab apples blooming this early!

While it is great to see the green leaves appearing and to revel in the sight of blossoms on the flowering trees, there is a downside. Spring is the time when we actually get green across the prairie. This usually happens in May and June, as the snow melts and we get a little monsoon effect in some rainy days. How long the green lasts depends on how much snow and rain we get. This year, while all the signs of spring are very early, the countryside has stayed brown. The winds of a dry, warm March and early April have left the prairie terribly dry.
Greening trees and gray, dripping skies.

But--cheers here--yesterday and today it has been raining! It is just a slow drizzle, but that is what we need. It is soaking in, not running off. So far, my rain gauge only shows about 1/10th of an inch. This may be a little less than has actually fallen.

I love sunshine and blue skies. I always feel better when it is sunny. But today I am thrilled to have gray skies and drizzle. (Ooops! The drizzle is now turning to big, wet snowflakes. Also not unusual for April.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Leanin' Wheel--The Man on the Grader

Daddy with the grader in town. Don't know who the little
boy is.
My father, Red McLaughlin, worked for the city for around forty years. When he first hired on to the city crew, it was a very small group of four to six men. They took care of everything. In an isolated little town of 2,000 people, this small crew had to cover multiple jobs. One day they might climb an electrical or light pole, another day might be checking the water system plant. My dad's primary job became street maintenance.

During my youngest years, the only paved streets in town were Main Street and the highways that bordered the main part of town, one running north/south on the east side of town, one running north/south on the west side of town, and one running east/west on the north side of town. The rest of the streets were maintained with the red shale that is so plentiful in our area. To keep these streets in decent condition Daddy operated the road grader. Up and down the streets, smoothing and leveling out the ruts and ridges, sometimes spreading fresh shale to keep down the mud.

It was a different world in the 1940s and 50s. It would never be allowed these days, but then Daddy could give kids rides in the grader as he worked their streets. I loved riding in the grader. It was too noisy for conversation, there was a lot of vibration, and watching the soil roll off the blade had a hypnotic effect, but it was a special time with my Daddy.

My Dad and my Uncle Bob had a habit of giving nicknames to people. Bob called Daddy "Leanin' Wheel", after the way the front wheels of the grader worked. In the photo above, it looks to me like those wheels are leaning.

After my Dad retired from the city, he began working part-time for the county, grading some of the county roads. He was regarded as an artist with that big machine. In 1973, when our daughter, Anne Marie, was four years old, we made a visit home and drove out to where Daddy was working. Anne Marie got to experience the fun of a grader ride with her Grandpa!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Allow Me a Little Rant

There were two things on the news this morning that roused my ire. I'm only going to address one of them this morning.

On a marine base in California seven marines climbed a very rugged, difficult-to-scale hill ten years ago. On the summit they raised a cross and created a memorial for their fallen comrades. Since that time three of those seven have also been killed. Over the years family members or friends of other fallen marines have added to the memorial.

Now a group, supposedly of service members who call themselves atheists and free-thinkers, want the memorial removed. They say it should only be housed within a Christian church. If the top man of the Marine Corps does not agree with them, they threaten to sue. Reaching the top of that hill requires a "bear climb" posture in places; but they are offended.

Is there anyone in this country more intolerant than these "free-thinkers"?

"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."
--George Washington

"The Bible is the sheet-anchor of our liberties."
--U.S. Grant

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Escape into Fantasy

I've been on a real reading jag for the past few days, and I'm not through yet.

I'd like to say I'm reading something very intellectual or digging deep into a personal Bible study, but that would be fibbing.

I've loved all kinds of fantasy stories since my childhood. I remember how wonderful it was when I discovered the Oz series when I was seven years old. I devoured them and was sorry when I finished all the volumes our library had. Before that I had read my way through the Thorton W. Burgess books--Reddy Fox, Old Granny Fox, Peter Rabbit, Grandfather Frog, Sammy Jay and all the other residents of the forest and meadow enchanted me. A few years later I read those books to my younger sisters and brother, to a younger cousin, and eventually to my children.

I read and enjoy many genres, but it is no surprise that I still like fantasy. It is the ultimate escapism. Perhaps I enjoy escape literature so much because I am basically very grounded in realism. And real life has the knowledge of a lot of unpleasant things. The good guys don't always win in this world. War and destruction are the incurable diseases of the human race. So, I treasure the good where I meet it, and take a vacation in fantasy land from time to time!

 Presently, I'm involved in one sci-fi type adventure in the book I am reading with my granddaughter. And I am deep in another so-called urban fantasy series on my own. When an author so excels at creating a fantasy version of our world that it sucks the reader right in; when you can feel like you are in a bitter cold winter forest when the sun is brightly shining outside your window; when there is tension and peril but you can be confident the heroine or hero will survive; then you know you have made a great escape!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lazy Day

Today has been a lazy day. There is no school today because of Easter break, so my granddaughter, Megan, spent an extra night with me. We have just taken the day to be lazy!

We have been reading to each other from the book Gone by Michael Grant. The theme of the book concerns what happens when everyone aged 15 and up suddenly disappears from a small southern California town. All the children from babies through fourteen are left behind. There is a "fence" rather like a bubble of power with a ten-mile diameter around the town. There is no communication to or from the outside world. And some kids have developed peculiar powers. How can they survive? They are in big trouble.

Unfortunately, I already know we aren't going to find out what caused this phenomenon in this book, because it is a three-book series. It is an interesting story. . .I'll just have to be patient!!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Weekends with Megan

I have been blessed as a grandmother to live in the same town as my daughter's family for most of my one and only grandchild's life. It is my delight to get to spend a lot of time with her, to see her grow from a newborn to a lovely young lady of fourteen.

When Megan was five or six years old, we developed the custom of her spending Friday night and Saturday with us. It was a special time. On Saturday mornings she would sit at the dining table with her Grandpa Jerry and drink coffee with him (hers being, of course, milk with a little coffee flavoring). They had good talks about many things. He adored her and delighted in the time they spent together. When we lost him, Megan was just 7 1/2 years old. Although she continued to spend Friday nights with me, she could never again sleep alone in the room that was hers before Jerry died. She slept in the big bed with me and we were a comfort to each other.

Although she could not have known it, those weekends Megan spent with me were an important element in helping me keep it together after my husband's death. A child can bring joy into life even in the midst of grieving.

Since then I have sold my house, built an addition to my daughter and son-in-law's house, and so live so close to them that I see them all often throughout the week. But weekends are still Megan's time. On Friday nights we usually have pizza and put in a movie DVD. After the movie we often read aloud, taking turns reading now that she is an accomplished reader herself. In the winter we usually have a jigsaw puzzle going. In the summer we may go for a walk or sit out on the deck with books. And we talk.

Megan sitting at the puzzle table and reading aloud to me.
Of late, Megan's weekends have expanded a bit and she spends Friday and Saturday nights with me. I was afraid that as she became a teenager she would lose interest in spending time with Grandma. She is, after all, a busy young woman. Besides her regular school schedule she has band events, quilt club, volunteering at the public library, spending time with friends, and helping her mother with her cleaning business three evenings a week. In addition she and I have started a Bible study together.

I love this child and I love that she still wants to spend time with her Grandma!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Last night at about half-past midnight there was a terrific crash that sounded like it was right in my house. I hesitated a moment to see if there would be any further noises. All was quiet.

I got out of bed and went through my house, turning on lights as I went from room to room. I could not see anything that looked out of place. The only sound I heard was the barking of the neighbor's dog. That was nothing unusual. It barks throughout the night.

I had just about convinced myself that it must have been the noise of a train coupling another car to itself, though it had seemed a lot louder and closer than that. As I passed through the kitchen on my way back to bed I decided to check the laundry closet and the pantry, just for good measure. All was well in the laundry closet.

I opened the pantry door and the mystery was solved!

A lid rack where I store the lids to my pots and pans when they are not in use had fallen off the shelf. Why, after six years, they chose to fall in the middle of last night I do not know. But I do know that a collection of stainless steel lids falling five feet to a hard floor can make a shocking noise!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sleeping In

This morning I slept in. I realize this is not a particularly newsworthy event, but it is an appreciated event.

When I was young it was accepted common knowledge that the older you got, the less sleep you needed. Life experience has now taught me what sleep researchers finally figured out--it's not that we need less sleep when we age, it's that it becomes more and more difficult to get enough sleep when we age. There are a number of physiological reasons for this, but the upshot is that we senior citizens are often walking around sleep deprived. That's the reason we tend to doze off so often during the day!

This photo has nothing, really, to do with that, except it is a sleeping picture that always amuses me. I took it in 1969 when my first baby, daughter Anne Marie, was quite new. No one in our little family was getting enough sleep during that period, because she was not a good sleeper. One Sunday afternoon Jerry lay down to rest with the baby. When I looked in he was sound asleep with the pacifier in his hand. Little miss Anne Marie was, as usual, bright-eyed wide awake!

I am thankful for the blessing of sleep today.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Daddy's Love

Terry, the first baby. 
Today I want to give equal time to our father. When I look at the photos of Daddy and his children, I marvel that he was so obviously tender and loving in his feelings for the six children my parents eventually had.

 Most of us learn parenting by the way our parents raise us. Daddy did not have much of an example in that. His mother died when he was not quite two years old. His father went here and there, finding work where he could. He drove freight wagons, cowboyed, broke horses, picked cotton, and farmed. Sometimes he had his two children with him, and sometimes he left them with relatives. Some of those relative weren't so very happy to have them. Two of my dad's aunts by marriage were the closest thing he ever had for a mother.

Daddy wrote about his father's and his Uncle John's child rearing techniques: "They treated horses and kids alike. Treated them good when they did what they wanted and knocked hell out of them when they didn't. I've been the opposite--six kids and I've never hit one of them."
Two daughters--Terry and Grace
Another daughter! This one is me.

Sometimes we learn to do the opposite of what was done to us!

Next it was twin daughters--
Kathryn and Kathleen
Number Six--a son! Hugh.

Whatever struggles Daddy may have had in his life, there is no question he loved his children, he worked hard, and he did the best he could for all of us. These photos, I believe, show some of the way he felt about us.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mother's Love

Rose McLaughlin, age 21, obviously
adores baby Terry Loel.
I am working now on redoing my Mother's old photo album that covers the years from 1936 to 1952. I've looked through this album many times throughout my life. Working on it, however, has me studying and thinking about the photos in a different way. The pages I worked on yesterday are from 1937 to 1939, the years my parents' first two children were born. These were the years when the country was struggling to find a way out of the Great Depression. Work was scarce and people took whatever they could find. We would consider ourselves extremely poverty-stricken if we had to go through the everyday circumstances of those days.

Mother with Terry and second daughter, Grace. Mother
has made matching dresses for the three of them, and has
fixed Terry's hair with a cute ribbon. I love the look of
love and pride on Mother's face.
Looking at the photos of my parents in that time, with those first two babies, you would not know how difficult survival was. They are not seeing these little ones as burdens. The adoring love and pride is clear on their faces. We have more pictures of Mother with the children, which is why I titled this Mother's Love, but our father was very good with little children.

It amazes me that in this time when so many people have so much more than my parents even imagined having, a lot of people seem to look upon children as burdensome nuisances. Some babies never get a chance at life, being disposed of like they were diseased tissue. Some are neglected; I cringe at what I hear some parents saying to their children as they drag overtired, over-stressed, crying children through the stores. Some expect the schools, the child-care facilities, or a relative to feed, teach, and raise their children for them. Some people are amazed that anyone would want more than one or two children.

Well, I got a little off topic there. I really only meant to talk about the treasure the old photos are, as they show the love and care my parents had for their babies!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, a day with special meaning for those of us of the Christian faith. It is a day of remembered rejoicing, yet a day of sorrow. It is a day of sorrow, because the excitement of the populace over Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem led to an increased determination by his enemies to see him dead. Jesus himself stopped on the way into the city, at a place where he could overlook the city, and wept. He knew the present singing and praising and waving of palm branches was creating a path to the cross. He wasn't weeping for himself, he was weeping for the people of Jerusalem. Many believed he was a prophet, some believed he was the Messiah, some were undoubtedly just caught up in the excitement of others. But so many would reject him. And rejecting the path of peace that he taught, they would ultimately rebel against Rome, bringing utter devastation to Jerusalem. All this he saw as he was surrounded by rejoicing and praise. And so he wept.