Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I am simply stunned by the level of destruction caused by the Sandy superstorm. It is not possible to really process the level of devastation from wind, waves, floods, fire, and snow across a huge swath of the continent. And it is still going--somewhat diminished, but still a dangerous storm.

My son lives in Rhode Island. He reports that people on the coast lost houses to the storm surge, but where he and his wife live there was wind, a little rain, and a 90-minute power outage. By the next morning they had sunshine. I am grateful that they got off so easy, but can only imagine what those who were not so fortunate are going through.

Eleven years ago my daughter's family lost their home and everything in it to fire. It was traumatic, and the emotional effects lasted a long time. So to see whole neighborhoods wiped out by fire and flood is to know that same kind of emotional trauma is now afflicting thousands of Americans.

I am speechless.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Nesting in the Fort

One of the joys of grandparenting is being able to recall the fun of being a kid and remembering what it was like to be able to turn the imagination free.

My granddaughter is a teenager now, but she has not lost the ability to enjoy imaginary play. And she has always loved to build nests for sleeping. She will surround herself in her bed with stuffed animals and pillows, burrowing in for a cozy sleep.

This weekend she tossed a few pillows on the floor to lie on while watching a movie on TV. Then she needed a blanket. Then the nest began to grow, and finally took on the shape of a fort. It involved pillows, couch cushions, a low floor chair turned on its side, a comforter for the roof, and the area between a recliner, the sofa, and the coffee table.

Having created her fort, or cave, she chose to sleep there Saturday night, amidst all the spare pillows inside it.

I can remember creating forts or tents for play as a child, and, when I was a teenager, creating them for games to entertain my younger sisters and brother. It was a lot of fun!

Of course, eventually the fort must go back to being sofa cushions, bed and throw pillows, chairs, and such. It isn't nearly as much fun restoring the house to normal conditions as it is to build the fort! However, Megan did a good job of putting things back in order as the weekend came to an end.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Great Dinosaur Hunt

There's no telling where a dinosaur might be found. If you are three years old your Great-grandmother's spacious backyard seems like a good place to search.

Yesterday my sister Grace had a gathering of various family members, both from here and from out-of-town.  Little Cordelia wanted to play outdoors. The two teenagers present, Steven and Megan, kindly took her out to the backyard, where the Great Dinosaur Hunt took place. The two 15-year-olds and the three-year-old are cousins of various degrees. As they set about their adventure, it was a treat to see the teens letting their imaginations loose to play with their little cousin. At one point Steven slipped away and hid behind the playhouse, roaring like a dinosaur. Then he ran back around, caught up with Megan and Cordelia, saying, "I think it came from over there!"

On the hunt.
Aha! A turtle-dino!

Steven took his trumpet on the dinosaur search.

Some leaf hunting also took place--Cordelia brought a huge cottonwood leaf inside to her mother.

Although no big dinos were found, a good time was had by all!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Generation Passing

Tom Brokaw called them "The Greatest Generation." They grew up during the Great Depression and came of age just in time to face World War II. The young men fought in Europe and across the Pacific. The women filled the labor gap at home, kept families going, and joined the armed services as support personnel, nurses, and pilots who delivered planes to the war zones. So many died in the war. The survivors came home, went to college, built businesses, worked hard, raised families, and tried to give their children easier lives than they had had themselves.

The recent death of our uncle Leonard, who passed just a few days before his 92nd birthday, has me thinking about the greatest generation members of my family. Only two remain--two dear aunts, both in their 90s.

In our family we had members (both blood relatives and by-marriage relatives) in every branch of the military. Uncle Joseph Philip Mackey--Navy; Uncle William Boyce Mackey--SeaBees; Aunt Cornelia Elizabeth Mackey--Army Nurse; Uncle Leonard R. Sauble--Army Air Force; Father A.G. McLaughlin--Army; Uncle Lee Tyrrell--Marines.

Those left at home kept things going, raising families, teaching school, ranching and farming (providing meat, wool, and farm commodities), and sending love and encouragement to those in the military. Our family was one of the lucky ones--friends were lost, but all our family members survived the war.

Here are some of our Greatest Generation.

C. Elizabeth (Bess)  Mackey Sauble and Leonard Sauble

Willaim Boyce Mackey, with very young Me

A.G. "Red" Mclaughlin, Rose McLaughlin,
Elsie Tyrrell and Lee Tyrrell

Joe Mackey with his sisters and mother. The way his sisters all are touching Joe
tells me  that they are very aware of the dangers he would be going back to. Joe
was on a ship in the Pacific that was sunk by the Japanese. Though he spent some
time in the water, he was rescued and continued to serve throughout the war. He
stayed in the Navy for about 30 years.
As the generations that were my grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles pass on, I realize that my sisters and I are now the elder generation. We have lived through many turbulent times, but nothing on the scale of the Great Depression and World War II. We have seen huge social changes in our country; some of these are very much for the good and should be celebrated, others seem to be undermining the moral and ethical fiber of our nation. What will our generation leave behind us?

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Patience is a virtue,
Develop it if you can;
Found seldom in a woman,
And never in a man!

I picked this little jingle up from somewhere when I was a teen and it has stuck in my mind all these years. It could be seen as politically incorrect and sexist ("never in a man"). It can be seen as amusing.

And it must be said that there is a good deal of truth in it. Patience is a virtue. It is hard enough to develop that we might, in fairness, regard it as a virtue seldom completely possessed by either men or women.

The lesson I am to lead in the adult class at church this Sunday is looking at the "fruit of the spirit" Patience.

It would be lovely if we could develop the characteristic and have it forever a part of ourselves. However, my experience is that patience, like the other virtues, must be constantly practiced. The very moment I feel that I have successfully tamed my impatient spirit, that patience is now an essential part of myself, something will happen that brings out that quick flash of impatience faster than thought, faster than my control.

So, it takes continuing conscious effort to incorporate patience into my character, so that it becomes so ingrained that I don't have to consciously think about how to respond to a situation that would naturally bring out impatience. This seems contradictory. But it is true.

Practice makes perfect, we have been taught. When it comes to a virtue like Patience, practice makes me better--I haven't reached perfect yet!

By the way, have you ever prayed for God's help in developing patience?

Now I don't want to scare you away from working on the development of this virtue, but, if you expect God to miraculously relieve you of your impatience, you are in for a surprise.

He will answer your prayer.

He will answer by giving you a multitude of opportunities to practice your self-control for the development of patience!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fall Cleanup

Today I went out to the deck, armed with a big, black plastic yard bag, ready to start cleaning out my many flower pots.

Frosty morning--10-5-12. After a few days like this, I was sure everything was dead.
The recent days of sub-freezing nights, with some snow, had done damage to my potted plants, but, amazingly, not all had been killed. The tomato, geraniums and marigolds were dead. But petunias are more hardy. They were nipped here and there, but most stilled lived, as did the fluffy, white, draping plant I've forgotten the name of.

The flowers that remain are rather scraggly, the deck is messy with falling leaves and debris from the flowers, but it pleases me to see this bit of color still living outside my windows.

Wishing to keep some of summer's green for as long as possible, I cleaned out the dead and heavily damaged pots. I pruned back the living pots to remove scraggly stuff and frost-bitten parts. I completely filled the big trash bag. But I saved enough that I don't have to look out at winter-barren pots just yet.

There will be more fall cleanup to come, but I am happy with today's project.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Last Friday was Homecoming for our High School. It was a chilly cloudy day for the big parade down Main Street. It was a cold and snowy night for the football game (our team won). I went to the parade; not the game.

Here comes the band.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about Homecoming. It seemed such a strange tradition to me. Parades, ball games, a "Royal Court," a dance--how did this tradition start and what did it mean? So, of course, I went to Wikipedia. I learned that the tradition had its start in 1911. Kansas and Missouri had a big college football rivalry. A change was made in the location where their big game was to be held. "To renew excitement in the rivalry, ensure adequate attendance at the new location, and celebrate the first meeting of the two teams on the Mizzou campus in Columbia, Missouri, Mizzou Athletic Director Chester Brewer invited all alumni to "come home" for the game in 1911." (Wikipedia)

Megan wasn't issued a hat this year, since her leg
injury consigned her to the "Pit."
So there you have it. From that beginning the tradition grew. Many, many years ago someone tried to explain the meaning of Homecoming to me as the team coming home for a game after an away game. However, since this happens more than once during a season, it didn't make much sense to me. What was the big deal about that? "Homecoming" meaning a celebration to invite alumni and former residents to attend a big game makes much more sense. But, as happens to traditions, the original meaning and purpose can be lost. The tradition continues and develops new twists. Nobody knows what it means, but everyone has fun with it!

My granddaughter, Megan, was marching with the band in the Homecoming Parade, which is what got me out of the house that chilly day. It was a big deal because it was the only time she got to march with the band this year. Her stress-fractured leg is finally healing. The doctor said it was OK for her to walk on it--just no running, jumping, or carrying heavy objects yet. It's too late for her to get back in the marching band for the competitions (she plays the xylophone in the "pit" instead). And she couldn't carry or play a bass drum in the parade (which was supposed to be her instrument this year), but she could carry cymbals and march with the band. This was a big goal for her ever since her leg injury grounded her from marching.

So, cold and wind and the fact that she was not feeling well that day could not keep her from being really excited and marching with the band in the Homecoming Parade!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sad and SAD

Today my niece Sue wrote in her blog here, "Autumn breaks my heart... ...because it is over all too soon."

I certainly agree with her. I feel sad because of the death of summer's rich beauty. I feel sad that the loveliness of fall is so very brief. I feel sad that the daylight hours are growing shorter and shorter. I feel sad that it will be a minimum of seven months before the life of spring returns. 

Winter has its own beauty, but I tend to experience a degree of SAD, that (for me) seasonal low underlying degree of depression that develops as the days grow shorter and darker, with the sun moving so far south that even at noontime the light is diffuse. After the shortest day of the year passes in December, and the sun begins its journey north, the days begin to be incrementally longer and brighter and I begin to feel better and better.

Now that I've cheered everyone up, here are a couple of photos that illustrate how quickly the weather can turn.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012--80 degrees F.

Friday, October 5, 2012--temperature in the 30s
I took the snow picture through the window at about 7:30 a.m. The snow is mostly melted now, and some of the flowers are still alive, but temperatures in the low 20s F. are predicted for tonight. I doubt that anything will survive that. On many years we've had flowers blooming until Halloween--I love that--but it is not to be for this year.

Now, I will say that despite my whining I am glad of the moisture. It has been such a dreadfully dry year, with so many grass and forest fires, that I will not regret the snow. And, though I do not tolerate cold very well anymore, I hope that we have lots of good wet snow this winter (but please wait till the leaves are off the trees to prevent breakage). 

Talking about the weather is joked about as the filler we use when we don't know what else to talk about. But the weather affects so many aspects of our lives that its fascination will always stay with us and we will always talk about it!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

More Photos to Share

OK, gang, I know Cordelia's day has been really well documented by at least four bloggers, but I have a few more pictures I'd like to share. Tina, I told you I'd share my photos, and this is how I'm doing it!

The elusive trumpeter, Steven, and his Grandma Grace.

Sweet Elise

Great-Grandma Grace with Elise.

Cousins, Steven and Sam

BFF Sadie investigating her treasure bag.
Cordelia in her sparkly pink birthday hat that Tina crocheted.

Grandma Sue with Elise and friend Sarah with Ari.

"Pick me up, Mommie!" Elise is only two-and-a-half months old, but she prefers viewing the world standing up.
A sweet Mother and Baby moment.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Three Years Old

Saturday was my great-grandniece Cordelia's birthday.

Now she is three!

She is a very bright, talkative, busy, active, and loving little girl. She is a good big sister to baby Elise. She loves the color pink. She was thrilled to know on her birthday morning that she had reached the same age as her best friend, Sadie (who turned three two months ago).

Her grandmother, Sue, has blogged about the birthday here, but I am going to add my perspective anyway!

I traveled to the birthday girl's town with her great-grandmother (my sister Grace), my niece Tina, and Tina's son Steven. The two-hour trip passed very pleasantly as we visited with one another. We women all love to read, and the conversation turned to books. After a time, teen Steven remarked that he didn't know how anyone could talk that long about books!

Steven plays the trumpet in the high school/junior high marching band, pep band, and jazz band. He is totally obsessed with his music. I had not yet heard him play; the birthday party was my first opportunity to. In fact, the party in the park had a lot of live music. A short distance from the shelter where our party was, another group was gathered that had a live band. When their band took a rest, Steven consented to play for us. Because the trumpet is a loud instrument, he walked some distance away, stood in the shade of a tree, and played. He is a very talented trumpeter!

The purple balloon with white
polka dots led the little girls to
one of the treasure hunt clues.

Cordelia and her best friend, Sadie, had a treasure hunt devised by dad Eric. At the end of the clues, they found goody bags with lots of fun items from the Dollar Store. Their favorite things seemed to be the princess tiaras, which they wore for the rest of the party. The little princesses were so sweet together. They played and shared and looked out for each other. Not always the case with three-year-olds!

Mom Maria arrives with the cupcakes and is greeted by her grandmother, Grace.

Dad Eric decorating with balloons. Our party setting was enticing to some small children who were
gathered with their family in a neighboring shelter--they kept trying to escape and come to Cordelia's party!
Grace with great-granddaughter Elise.
Great-aunt Tina with Elise, who happily gnawed on her finger.

Blowing out the candle.

Sadie and Cordelia eating cupcakes (they ate off the delicious strawberry frosting and left the rest), with Eric.

Of course, there were pink cupcakes, Happy Birthday was sung, presents were opened. But I think the dollar tiaras were the biggest hit of the party!

Princess Cordelia and Princess Sadie with the popular maracas.