Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I missed it/Bill's getting a big head/Oh what a beautiful morning!

I'm not sure where to start...so let's just start at the end, go to the beginning and end in the middle..got it?

First and foremost, I missed posting on my own blogoversary! It's hard to believe that it's been two years...and all the things that have happened in those two years! Thanks to all those who stopped by to wish me a happy day and to those who have been here through thick and thin, since day one! Here's to another year!

Now...Bill....where do I start? It was a combination of things. First, I was reading the website of a friend I never met, a former radio personality in Pittsburgh. I spent so many nights with him (he was the overnight talk show host) that he became family. A few weeks ago, wrote about one of his dogs leaving home and having to retrieve him at the police station.
I wrote to him about Bill going to church. He wrote back to me that he liked the story so much he posted my letter, complete with links to this blog, on his web site!
Boom! All of a sudden, we had people from all over dropping in, including several from my home town (population 4,377). I even got two email, one from an old friend and one from a person who knew my father's family. I was thrilled. I gave Bill and extra helping of Frosty Paws, a special ice cream treat for dogs:

A few days later, I checked in and there were people from all over checking in. There were so many new people, I thought for a minute they must be arranging bus tours...
I quickly made a note to myself not to go out on the patio in my jammies for morning coffee!

Then I realized they were coming from RAVELRY! In my confused state (remember, I'm at 'that age' and I do have four children...I wondered if Ravelry might be closing it's doors and ending everyone here...

Then I realized it was Michelle from Always Casting On said in THIS Ravelry thread that she enjoyed reading this blog! I guess she's the voice of authority, because a million

(or at least a few hundred) people came running over here to see what we were about!

Funny thing about that is I always read Michelle's blog (I remember your wedding, Michelle), but lost my list in a huge computer crash and never found her again.

So...Michelle, Bill and I want to thank you for leading all these people here. He thinks they are all coming to see him and his head is swelling at an alarming rate!

Look! His head doesn't even fit in the picture anymore!

Okay Michelle, you can go to bed now. We will not talk about you. I promise!

Nighty night!

(Okay, now that Michelle isn't here, let's talk about her. Things over at chez Always Casting On hasn't been all that much fun. Her good news would make some of us weep. Let's all run over there in the middle of the night and TP her house to cheer her up!

Not sure how to TP (toilet paper) a house? There are great instructions HERE. But for heaven's sake...if you get caught, you're on your own. I don't know you!

All that being said, I had a fairly quiet weekend Mark and Tony went golfing on Sunday. Several hours later, Mark calls. He was going to surprise me by buying me (hold on to your hats..he's such a romantic devil)...a light bulb! I was sure he was going to buy me one because he knew I was tired of being the only bright thing in the house, but he said no, he was just looking for a practical gift. BUT...they walked into Home DeePot or another store like it, just when they were marking evergreens down 75%. How many did I want.

How can I tell such a sweetie that I'd rather have a light bulb (they are easier to install)? I said I'd take them all.

He was sooo excited, he never cared for a minute that they had to get out the tractor and pull out things that were already there so they could make room for the trees that weren't there. They didn't even care that our little lawn tractor couldn't pull things out without adding weight to the back...


Andy (pictured above) cuts grass and does yard maintence in his spare time and on weekends. One of the places he cuts is an empty field. People are planning construction on a wonderful house in the fall and need him to keep the property looking tidy until then.

Last week he mentioned that he had to leave a large patch uncut because a bird was sitting on a nest in the middle of the field. Yesterday when we drove by, there she was, sitting on her nest.

Of course, I didn't have my camera, but when I got up extra early this morning, I decided to take my camera and try to get a photo of her. She was not on her next, but standing nearby:

Anyone know what kind of bird she is?

A little farther down the road, I caught up with two fawns:

Don't they just take your breath away?

After all that excitement, I had to come home and put my jammies on and take a nap. Wendy, Tony's cat, and Linda joined me, Wendy on my lap, Linda on the sofa (that dogs are not allowed to sit on) beside me...

Oh wow! Mark just shouted down the stairs that it's waaaay past my bedtime and I'll be crabby if I don't get my rest. Little does he know...I'm always crabby. Rest has nothing to do with it!

Sweet dreams!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In the Garden (or 'careful how you water your dogs...they might grow)...
When we found this house, I was so excited. It was the first place, since I left my parents' house (a long time ago) that I would have space for gardening. We moved into the house a week after a horrendous snow storm, in February.
We had no idea what it would look like in the spring. We were pleasantly surprised when tulips came up...

When the rhododendrons bloomed...we were tickled to find that we had three different colors!

Hubby couldn't wait to cut the grass (we bought the tractor before we moved in...he was so excited). He did a beautiful job (if you don't consider the battle with the moles or the time he set the front hill on fire trying to get rid of the yellow jackets)...(those are great stories for another time)

The little pond thawed and we cleaned out tons of rotten leaves...yuck!

We found all kinds of things growing...we planted some things...some lived...more did not...

This will be our fifth summer in the house on the hill. I still feel like a princess when I come down the stairs each morning...

and like a zoo keeper when I let the dogs out after that.

Last summer, after the pavers finished our drive, we planted a perennial bed and made an herb garden. This year the perennials really took off!

Complete with a place for Princess, our head mouser, to hide!

And of course, Andy cleaned out the pond...

First Linda, then Bill, learned how to drink out of that fancy, raised dog bowl in the perennial bed...

And then they learned to share!

And then Bill learned about the portable water bowl and preferred it, especially when Dad offered it!

Today, while Daddy was at work, Bill tried to get a drink out of the portable drinking bowl...

He tried real hard, but nothing would come out!

Then Dad came home and showed him how to put more water in it...

You didn't even have to tip it over now...and you could invite your friends to drink at the same time!

How cool is that???

Thank you for attending our first annual garden tour for a cure! Please help raise money for free mammograms for those who can't afford them by clicking here:

Every day! It doesn't cost you a thing...the sponsors on this site pay for the mammograms!

How cool is THAT?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

To all those dads out there...

I know that I promised Deena (see her at Can I Be Pretty in Pink?) that I would be part of her Tour for a Cure and post gardening pictures today...but that was before I realized that it would be Fathers Day. Deena, you're such a sweetie and I want to do all I can to promote free mamograms and early detection of breast cancer...and pictures are coming tomorrow...but today, a tribute to a very special man in my life...my father!

My father passed away on August 4, 2004 after a ten year battle with Altzheimer's. My father didn't die quickly or leave without a good bye, but in pieces, and we said good bye many times to many parts of him. His passing left a huge hole in my heart, but I know that one day, we'll all be together again in heaven. For this, I am thankful.

I try to think of ways to pay tribute to a man who helped make me who I am, ways to introduce you to a very special person, but words fail me. Each time, all I have to offer are some precious photograps, the words I spoke at his memorial service and the words of a song that was written by strangers that is so true, they might have read my mind as they wrote it.

Bear with me...happy Father's day to all those special men out there...and come back tomorrow to see the flowers!



Tony, my father. May 11, 1925 - August 4, 2004

My dad and me on my wedding day!
Memorial service for my father, August 15, 2004:

A few weeks ago, I sat with my family and watched the democratic nation convention. I sat and wondered just why John Kerry’s daughters were standing there, telling dumb stories about their father. Oh, I knew that they were there to help him get the nomination, but why the dumb stories? I wondered how they got the courage to tell them to all those people.

Today, I think I have the answer. They wanted us to see their father, not as a war hero, not as a politician, but as a man, a father, a personal hero. That’s why I chose to speak today. No, my father wasn’t a politician, although he fought in the war, he wasn’t a huge hero, but he was man, a father, my hero, and I do have a hamster story. No, he didn’t give it CPR, but he did tear down part of the bathroom wall to rescue one.

Those of you who knew him, even slightly, knew that he was a man of few words. A quiet man. He had so much to say, he was so intelligent, I sometimes wondered if the fact that he had eight sisters had something to do with it.

Even without words, he was a teacher. He taught by example. The most memorable of those lessons came when he was trying to teach me how to parallel park. After ten minutes of trying to instruct me, he ordered me out of the car and directed me to sit on the side of the parking lot and watch him do it over and over. It must have worked, I can parallel park a school bus.

There were other things that we learned just by living with Daddy: Work hard. Act responsibly. Save a few pennies here and there. If you read the news paper first, put it back in order. Family is important. Almost anything can be fixed with enough duct tape, and most of all, help other people when you can.

This is the way most of us will remember him, helping people. I lost track of my cousin, Ed, twenty five years ago. Two years ago, I found an email address for him. I wrote and asked if he remembered me.

“Of course I remember you,” he replied. “Uncle Tony’s daughter.” He then went on to tell me how my father helped him get his first car running. I guess that’s how he remembered me, Uncle Tony who helped get his car on the road’s daughter. Humbling, but still a proud moment. Some of my most cherished memories are of the times I got to tag along while he helped family members.

There were things he did, over and over, that didn’t make sense when I was a teen and knew it all, but later in life, it sunk in...at least some of it. I now know why he checked the water and oil in my car each time I pulled in the driveway. I now understand why he used to drive past my house in Conway on his way home from Ambridge to Baden each night. I now see why he worked all those hours and always tried to put a few dollars away. I can even understand why he spent countless hours of his free time helping his family. I can only hope, in years to come, that we, my brother and I, and our children, can show that we studied under the master and have learned our lessons well.

Of course, like all fathers, he pulled a few fast ones on us. I’m proud to say that I did catch on...eventually. I now know the truth about Christmas and I know that the road doesn’t always go past one of his sister’s houses, no matter where you are going. I still don’t know how he always knew who had fresh cookies and hot coffee ready. Guess I never will.

My father loved his family, and we loved him.

My parents just celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. By that time, my father didn’t understand the concept, or remember that my mother was his wife. Over the years, huge chunks of his past were lost, he didn’t understand the relationships he had with any of us. He told me that he didn’t remember me living in his house and when I reminded him that he was my father, he asked how old I was. When I told him, he demanded I tell him how old he was. He didn’t believe me.

Undaunted, he forged new relationships with us. He didn’t remember that we were related, but it didn’t matter. He learned to love and enjoy the pack of wacky people who claimed to be his family.

When his memory loss became so severe that he didn’t remember marrying my mother or her name, he gave her the most incredible gift of all...he renamed her Hon and fell in love with her all over again.

It delighted us to watch him reach for her hand and kiss it, to see them share jokes that no one else understood. The last time that he was admitted to the hospital, they sent him for a CAT scan. It made the nurses’ day when they left my mother in the hall and closed the door between them and my father kept calling, “Hon! Hon!” and blowing her kisses.

You know, we have been losing my father, in bits and pieces, for ten years. We’ve been saying good bye to parts of him all along, but the shock of losing him is still profound. He loved us, was loved by us, and will be missed.

When I decided to speak today, I wondered if I would be able to do it. A friend of mine assured me that God would give me the strength to do what I had to do. Although our heavenly father has given me the ability to stand here and speak, I’ll not be greedy, just thankful. I hope now you’ll see that my father was a hero too.

Thank you for coming to honor my father’s memory and for sharing our grief. By sharing it, you have lightened our burden...God bless you.

sung by Barbra Steisand,
written by
M.Leonard & H.Martin

My Pa can light my room at night
By just his being near
And make a fear for dream all right
By grinning ear to ear
My Pa can do most anythingHe sets his mind to do
He'd even move a mountain
If he really wanted to
My Pa can sweeten up a day
That clouds and rain make gray
And tell me funny stories
That will chase the clouds away
My Pa's the only one on EarthI can tell my troubles to
His arms are house and home to me
His face's a pretty poem to me
My Pa's the finest friend I ever knew
I only wish that you
Could know him too...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

blog readability test

Let me know if I need to 'dummy down' for you.

Monday, June 09, 2008

It's no secret that I have four kids. Anyone having more than one quickly realizes that each one is different...that each brings his particular brand of joy, pride, tears and fears...

For example...Andy, my middle son: If you see his shoes beside the kitchen door...you know that you will tell him 23490283 times that day to move his shoes. Yesterday started like this:

Andy, take care of your shoes...

About 10:30 AM, Andy shouted up the stairs that Dad wouldn't let him have bubbles...would I please tell Dad to let him have bubbles. Now Andy will soon be 22 and when he's in a good mood, he's a real pain. I tend to ignore him. This time, I did.

Half hour later, I walked out onto the patio, prepared to tell Andy to take care of his shoes. This is what I saw standing by the pond:

Look Ma, I have bubbles! (notice he has on different shoes, the red and white ones are beside the door) and no, fish don't live in that pond...it's really a huge dog water dish.

An hour later...

More bubbles.

Andy, take care of the bubbles...two hours later, Andy, take care of the bubbles...(I'm sure you don't want to see any more bubble pictures, do you?
I had the whole gang up here for dinner. It was soooo stinkin' hot that Catherine and Michael (my oldest son and his fiance') arrived separately. He came in his car, she came on her motorcycle.
Everyone brought something...Mark cooked on the grill. We set up the food on the island in the kitchen. Bill protected it for us. He made sure no stinkin' crumbs fell on the floor!
The boys had an inline hockey game on Sunday afternoon so we packed up and headed for the rink.
Tony, #97
Andy, #1
They lost, but we still had a good time, cheering for our favorite players. Afterwards, they were so hot and sweaty
But the girls had a surprise for them: SLIP-N-SLIDE!!!

That's Vicky going down first!

Tony went down next and crashed at the bottom.

Bill checked on him to make sure he was okay!Andy went next. Notice his socks? Yes, hand knit hockey socks...or so he says. Repeat after me: Andy don't walk around outdoors in your socks...

Again? Andy, don't walk around outdoors in your stocking feet!Never tell a young man with the hose what to do!Guess they got tired and decided to sit and watch the girls play. Kailyn and Morgan had a blast!

Isn't it amazing what you can do with hot, sweaty hair?