Sunday, November 30, 2008


Thanksgiving is over, and now the houses begin to light up with their festive Christmas lights. I wasn't planning to do much decorating, as I will be leaving shortly to spend 10 days with my daughter when she has a C-section to deliver my new grandson! However, as I was putting something away in my shed today, I noticed a box marked "ceramic Christmas tree", and decided to bring it in, and that would be the extent of my holiday decorating for this year.

The tree was made 35 years ago when my children were very young. I attended a ceramics class one evening a week with a girlfriend as time for myself and a chance to make some homemade Christmas presents. The tree had little openings for light to shine through from the light bulb underneath, and little plastic lights fit in the holes to give the appearance of a lit Christmas tree.

This little tree was part of our holiday tradition. The children looked forward to placing the little lights in the holes each year, and later they were replaced with colored butterflies and birds. Their father and I later divorced, and I gave up home and furniture, but this little ceramic tree followed me as I moved to apartments, townhomes, houses, to Arizona and back to Minnesota, and again back to townhomes and houses. With each move, a new crack or break seemed to occur. Eventually, many of the little lights disappeared and open holes shone light through where the colored birds used to shine. I glued back pieces, stuffed colored paper in holes, and used the remaining birds to fill the holes in the front and left the open holes in the back. A few years ago, my daughter-in-law offered to make me a new ceramic tree after seeing the sad condition of this one, but my son protested "You can't replace THE tree!", and so the tree was saved from the trash bin.

As I unpacked it tonight from it's wrappings, I noticed the tip had broken off and the star had drooped from the summer's heat. I glued the top back on, and put what remained of the birds, butterflies and colored pieces into the the front and sides. I turned the tree to try to hide the large crack and hole....unsuccessfully. As I looked at the sad little tree glowing on my table, I thought that I could look at the crack, or I could just see the pretty lights shining once again from the tree.

Then it dawned on me that this tree really was a family tree. I thought of how our family is divided by miles as we now live in Arizona, Minnesota and Ohio. I thought of how the trauma of change caused it to crack, chip, and break. Yet, though all the changes and bumps that it has gone through, love has been able to be the glue that has held our family together. And like our family, it isn't perfect. There have been some cracks and breaks.....yet love has kept it intact. And when I turned off the lights tonight, I was aware of the cracks and holes, but even more, I loved seeing the soft lights glowing from that tough little tree. Families aren't perfect, and there will always be hurts, disappointments and tears. But a family who truly loves each other, who treasures the good memories, and can still appreciate what they have cracks and all...... have truly received the most wonderful Christmas gifts of all, the gifts of love and family.

Merry Christmas to my wonderful expanding family. And welcome to another year, little ceramic tree. And I hope to see you again for many, many more Christmas seasons. You are beautiful.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thanksgivng Day began with something those who live in the desert cherish....the sound of rain. We received the first rain on Thanksgiving Day in more than 25 years, and the first rain in 90 days. The desert has that special fragrance that a fresh rain produces, and the washes are full of rushing water. Thank you, God, for the rain!
I was able to spend much of the day with Mom. We had a wonderful dinner at her friend's home, complete with wine, turkey, a fantastic family recipe stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberries with oranges and apples, and a delicious eggnog pie and pumpkin cake! Luckily, we ate at 1, so had the rest of the day to walk it off! Thank you God for my wonderful Mother, and for special friends.
After dinner I went out to the ranch and let Bart out in the big arena to run, buck, fart, rear and roll. Then he returned to me waiting at the gate. As I was walking him back to his pen, the lightning flashed and thunder boomed. I was almost there when the skies opened to a downpour. I got under his shelter with him and put his rain sheet back on, and gave him his Thanksgiving carrot, a pat, and Wylee and I ran for the truck. Wylee is terrified of storms, so he wasn't happy about being out in one and getting wet! Thank you, Lord, for the joys and companionship of my animals.
And tonight I worked with my crashed computer again....and wonders of wonders...I was able to get my AOL 9.1 up again and my addresses and some favorites back. Thank you, Lord, for the entertainment my computer can provide when it is cooperating, and for finding a way to make it cooperate again!
I miss the Thanksgivings of my youth. We would awaken to the smell of the turkey that Mom had gotten up early to get started. Dad would crank up "76 Trombones" on the old stereo and his five daughters would march around the dining room table on Mom's homemade braided rug.We would dress in our best and walk to church across crunchy, frozen ground to the chilly church a few blocks away. When we returned, we all had our jobs. One would make the sweet potatoes with marshmallows, one would make the green beans with mushroom soup and fried onion rings, one would make a chop plate of pickles, carrots, celery and olives (the black ones never made it to dinner....Dad was as bad as his daughters in swiping one every time he walked by the table), and one would set the table with the good dishes, silver and goblets. Then we would all pick a number for the football game and put our dimes in the pot. Dinner was eaten at half-time, with each person at the table saying what they were thankful for, starting with the youngest member and working up to Dad (who usually said he was thankful that we were done with our thanks and could enjoy the big turkey!). Sometime one of my grandparents or my godfather, Bernard, would also be seated around the big dining room table. When Bernard would drive up from Minneapolis in his newest Buick, we would also be enjoying the loads of food he would bring....and that usually meant a jug of Mogan David wine for Mom, a big box of Fanny Farmer chocolates, a box of nuts, and a treat with a case of Pepsi for those of us who usually drank Kool-aid! The conversations around that old table was often humorous, teasing, loud, and fun. Then we would watch the football game and scream for scores that would let our number win the pot of dimes.
After the game we had dishes to do (no was the sisters doing dishes and singing along with the pink radio with the aluminum foil wrapped around the antenna), floor to sweep, sink to clean, copper-bottomed pots to polish....then we were free. We would put on our warm coats and go for a walk, or maybe to the ice rink if there was ice made. I can remember the biting cold on my cheeks as my nose dripped and my toes and fingers turned cold.
Today I was able to share a pleasant dinner with Mom and her friends. My oldest sister and her husband had the buffet at the casino yesterday and will be back on their liquid diets today. My next sister said she would go to the local casino and eat alone at the buffet. My next sister is having dinner with her husband, daughter and her boyfriend, as they celebrate the baby due to arrive in the spring. The baby sister (in her 40's!) will have a big, noisy dinner with her boyfriend and his family. Her son will have his Thanksgiving at a Marine base. My son will have a dinner with his wife, son and in-laws, and my daughter and her husband will have a quiet dinner provided by her church as she continues her bedrest with her troublesome pregnancy almost completed....12 days to go! And Dad has now been gone almost 5 years....wonder if heaven has Thanksgivings!
So our families have spread out, traditions have changed, and those young girls who marched around the table are now middle-aged with children grown and grandchildren on their way. Wouldn't it be fun to win the lottery and be able to pay for everyone to fly here next Thanksgiving to have a noisy, confusing dinner again? Or to be able to turn the clock back 45 years and hear the feet running down the stairs as the brass starts playing "76 Trombones" and hearing Mom and Dad laughing in the kitchen........ Thank you, God, for the gift of memories.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Many years ago I went to nursing school after graduating from high school. I worked as an RN in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, while working towards a degree in Health Education. Obtaining that degree led to 30 years of teaching in public schools. And over a 15 year period, I sold real estate on my weekends, summers and evenings. And then.....RETIREMENT! Now, after two years of enjoying a new home in a new state, I have started a part-time job to supplement my dwindling investments and to support my horse habit. And....I am back working in a medical clinic! I work with a great group of people and have my weekends, holidays and evenings off. The salary is a far cry from my last year's of teaching, but I have the flexibiltiy to still enjoy getting away occasionally.....such as 10 days next month to meet my new grandson who is due December 9! So here I am....40 years later and back in scrubs. The circle of life.......

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lucky Day!

I received yet another one of those emails to send around and receive good luck in 4 days. I usually don't sent them on, worrying about viruses. But this one had a great message, so I chose my 11 people and waited for my lottery ticket to hit. It didn't. But I did have a special day yesterday. I went to the local western store's 20th Anniversary event. I walked around picking up samples, talking with reps, and signing up for drawings. I bought a new round leather collar for Wylee ( along with the vet telling me that he needs to lose weight, his puppy collar has gotten to the last hole) and received a free squeeky furry raccoon for Wylee to disembowel. I found a hat a really liked....and when I asked if it was on sale, was told it wasn't, but was offered a 20% I bought it, and had two nice compliments before I even got out of the store. I enjoyed their BBQ, but was able to stick with my Detox Plan by making a lettuce wrap of the burger! Then left to head for the ranch, where a girlfriend met me with her trailer and we hauled out of town for a ride. It was a beautiful locations with lots of high hills, huge saquaros, and a rock-walled canyon. Both of us were riding beautiful palominos who were exceptional on the often steep and rocky trails. The above picture is on the ride wearing that new hat! My cell phone rang....and I won a drawing at the western store...a great Ariat fleece vest! So guess I did have a lucky day... a new hat on sale, a free fleece vest and toy for Wylee, and a "legal" lunch, and a fantastic trail ride. And to top it all off....the Detox plan is working.....the scale rewarded me with a 10# weight loss. Yup, it was a lucky day. Have another one of those email to send to my 10 best friends???

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I am so proud of my country today. In high school I read "Black Like Me" and learned of college students being killed for helping people in the southern states register to vote. I saw the Governor of Alabama stand in front of a college and refuse to allow Black students entrance. I saw Martin Luther Kings speech...."I have a dream..."....and I saw him shot down. I wept during that terrible week of Kennedy's death and funeral. I have seen America at her ugliest. But last night I sat with two Republicans and had an election party....and watched history being made. Tears ran down my cheeks as I heard the healing, gracious speech by John McCain in defeat. And I felt again how I felt as a teenager when I watched John Kennedy take office and heard "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country". I felt hope, I felt pride, and I felt the excitement of thinking that this country can heal, can be better for all Americans, can be respected again by the world, and can move to a time of peace and prosperity. I prayed that God would allow the best person for our country to win this election....and learned that many others were offering the same prayer. Now I pray that our country can heal, can get behind our new president, and that God will protect and guide him. I have never been prouder of my country. God speed, President Obama!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


CJ is into the Action Figures, so here he is as the Incredible Hulk for Halloween. Hard to believe that tiny baby will be 5 on Saturday! And in 38 days, I will have a new yet unknown!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Had a Halloween party at the clubhouse for Halloween. Fun seeing the senior set in their fun costumes. Above you see the man who works as a butcher at Safeway with his new wife!!! Mom and I are on the left....she copied her winning witch costume from last year, and I had planned to go as a witch, too...but then found a gaudy dress at the thrift shop...added lots of glittery jewelry, makeup, and a blond wig, made a poster....and became a political activist. Unfortunately, neither of us won a costume prize, but we enjoyed the free pizza and beer, Halloween treats, and both won door prize drawings! It was all done by 8, so I moved on to a nearby bar that was having a costume party and Kareoke. The costumes there were wild...the singing fair to good, and the PBR was on the TV, so enjoyed a few hours....and was home by 10! Don't know if the spooks and goblins were out....but the coyotes were howling loudly as I headed for bed. And THAT was this Halloween in Arizona!