Monday, November 30, 2009

Four Days Off!

Well, the first time off I've had since last April is over, and let me tell you, it was wooonnnderful.
I cooked like a maniac last week, until Thursday of course. Then I ate like a maniac! After which I did not cook again all weekend, unless you count Saturday night's chili, which I mostly don't count.
The weekend was full of blankets, internet surfing, crossword puzzles, leftovers, and pondering lots of nothing at all. (Do you think that Hidden Valley Ranch is attempting to take over the world by addicting us all to Ranch Dressing and then lowering the supply? Hmmm....)
It was a great weekend, but now it's over, and back to the daily brew. Before 11 a.m. this morning, I did five loads of laundry, endured two fits thrown by a four year old, and had three conversations with business people regarding money.
Love those Mondays, really.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Just want to take a moment to remember the vets in my life:
My dad, who served in the Korean war.
My grandpa Bayer, who was drafted during WWII and didn't even make it through basic before the war ended.
My Brother in Law, Bob, who recently retired from a career in the army.
My grandfather-in-law, who doesn't always remember his family. He served in WWII, and if you ask him about it, he'll talk for hours about it. What he did, where he served, how he played basketball with "John F ". (That's JFK, to the rest of us.)
And to all the rest of the veterans out there: family, friends, acquaintances, and people I don't even know. The ones who will know I remembered them, and the ones who won't. The family of those who gave their lives so I can sit and watch TV in my living room and talk politics in public. Thanks. You'll never know how much you've done for us. God bless you all.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Waiting for the Butter!

Sometimes, the days of life slide by like buttah, one after the other in a haze of easiness, all things going smoothly. Everyone gets along, no one is sick , all the bills are paid on time. To slightly mis-quote JRR Tolkien in The Hobbit, it's a strange thing, but times that are easy and days that are good don't make very good tales.
So the tale of our lives this year should read like a novel. A seven month layoff, an accident that injured my dear husband's back, my mom in the hospital for months, my sister's grandbaby in the hospital with cancer. And I , who am the Official Stresser Over of The Budget - well. Lets just say that that particular part of my job description has kept my very busy lately.
And my slight heart murmur, which can be triggered by stress and caffeine, is going like a freight train some days. Dear husband is getting impatient with being off of work. Our children, who get along with one another very well for brother and sister, find reasons to be in their rooms alot.
So I'm taking a step backward, thank you very much. I'm loving the autumn rain, detoxing from all the caffeine I've ingested lately, spending more time enjoying my family, and making time for my quiet time with God. I know all this is for a season, and then things will change.
I know that no matter what happens God will use it for good.
I also know that we are extremely blessed to have an extended family that cares about us enough to help when we need it.
So, I'll work on focusing on the good things I have in my life instead of the problems. But I'm still waiting for the Buttah days!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Grace and Peace

I'm standing at the mudroom window, leaning on an old bench, absorbing the silence of an August rain. The deck is wet and slick, the Dusty Miller and Moss Rose Plants are laden with the two day rain. The mustard a previous owner planted is heavy and nodding with the bounty of wetness a late summer rain has provided, and the accidental tomato plant growing in the hostas is ripening quickly.
An unseasonal wet and cool two days is providing me with a taste of Autumn, a cool breeze a gift of God, and I'm just savoring standing here, watching, listening, smelling.
The deck lights come on south to north, one by one, and the gentle rain continues, feeding, nourishing, both the plants and my spirit. I wait gently for the silence of an autumn rainstorm, it's where I belong, it's where I live always in my soul. That spot where the bounty of summer is fully ripened and waiting to pick, and the restfullness of winter is far ahead.
August is when I started dating my husband, Autumn when I knew we would be together for a long time. It's when we were married, when our first child was born. When my thoughts turn to both wandering to new places, and staying at home for a season.
My knee leans on the bench, scarred by dog paws and children's toys, and I am overwhelmed with gratefulness, Knowing that this patch of land is mine for a time.
I wait for the streetlight to come on in the yard of the Narnia house,and listen to the rain, and watch squirrels scurry to get home, and listen to silence.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Redux

I think I may have mislead you a couple of posts ago. About summer, I mean.
Summer is sweaty, hot, uncomfortable weather. I prefer cold, really. But about the actual stuff we do. Well.
Summer? It's : Time to read whole books, from start to finish, without backing up to re-read a couple pages so you remember where you were last time, weeks ago, when you left off.
Summer is Strawberries and blueberries and raspberries and peaches. It's watermelon and cucumbers and lemonade and sweet tea. It's late mornings and late evenings and fireflies.
Oh, fireflies! How I love a yardful of fireflies, Blinking late into the evening.
Summer is bats flying high over head, baby squirrels getting fat, a long lazy walk by the river. It's hazy mornings with iced coffee to wake you, the smell of elephant ears and funnel cakes cooking, and the scent of a distant campfire.
Campfires! Browned marshmallows and melty gooey smores, roasted hot dogs on a stick.
Hot dogs and hamburgers and pork chops and chicken on the grill, every week. Salads and fruit.
The farmers market, barn sales, yard sales, aimless drives through the countryside.
Summer is baking in the sun, even if you wrinkle like a raisin. It's a cool dip in the pool or the lake or the river or the hose.
It's my dog diving headfirst into the river to retrieve a stick, sticking his head in the hose while it's going full blast and loving it, shaking and getting everyone around soaking wet.
Summer is sidewalk chalk drawings and first babysitting jobs and melting ice cream cones with the whole family.
Summer is the cool air in the movie theatre and the library, the shivery feeling when you first come into the house after a day outside.
Summer. It's not too bad. If only I could have it in the early fall...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Story About a Company

I have a little story to tell you. It's not a very nice story, unfortunately, but it is true. This is a Story about a company. A company most people think would be delightful to work for. Like most companies, this one has it's ups and downs.
The insurance, for instance, runs the gambit from unbelievably fantastic, to nonexistant, depending upon your postion within the company. The pay rate depends entirely upon your ability to attract new clients, and your boss can be a delightful person or a real jerk, it's just the luck of the draw.
Aside from the ups and downs, however, there lurks a darker side, a side that no one ever really sees. Unless, of course, you work for the Company.
The truth is that the Company is not very well run. My supervisor, directly hired by me and the board of directors, (I'm on the board of directors), has turned out to be a real moron. For instance, my supervisor was hired entirely on his own word of mouth-stupid, I know, but it's the way it has always been done. All of what he said has turned out to be a lie. In addition, since he is directly responsible for the budget our company operates on, you would think he would be a financial genius, but as it turns out he can't do the simplest addition or subtraction. The simplest things escape him, such as the fact that you can't spend more than you take in, or that you need to cut out the extras before you cut out the essentials. (If I spent all the money I earned on chocolate bars and pretty shoes, and then couldn't pay my bills, everyone would think I was a moron with no sense of financial responsibility, right? )
Since the supervisor of our company is so bad with money, most months I spend the time between submitting my pay voucher and actually receiving my pay, sweating it out, wondering if I'm actually going to get paid.
Now, before you wonder why I don't just quit and get another job, let me explain: This job isn't just a job to me. It's what I dreamed of doing when I was in high school, and I am educated, and continue to take education classes and seminars, to be able to do my job both effectively and in the most up to date manner. And besides, I love my job. I provide a real service, a service that affects my customers in the most positive way.
If I were to lose my job today (a real possibility because of the Company's current budget crises), I would need to : 1. Be retrained for another type of position. 2. Probably file bankruptcy so that I could afford to go to school. 3.Move to a cheaper community, possibly another state, to live in a way that would enable me to go to school. 4. Almost certainly go on welfare to enable me to be able to live , feed my children, etc, while I retrained for another type of position.
So you see, I'm invested in this job-totally aside from the fact that I love my job (and how many people can say that?!) the fact that my job would impact so many people if it were lost, should be a real consideration in the Company's budget plans.
And so, while I sit here and wonder if my paycheck will arrive this month, the executive board and the Supervisor duke it out with their war of words, while they fight over weather or not to cut 'nonessential' budget items out, and weather or not to continue to fund essential services such as the one I provide to our customers. While they fight, I wonder, as do others, weather or not we will be able to feed our children next month, or give them a place to live, or provide them with health insurance.
I wish, as do all who work for The Company, that the service I provide would just be funded, so our clients can continue their own work, and stay off of welfare themselves, and that the Company would quit playing games with the little people who work for them.
Oh, yes...the Company I work for is The State Of Illinois, and the job I do is to provide daycare for all of the Moms and Dads we decided a few years ago needed to be off of welfare, and work to support themselves. Moms whose husbands left them, or Dads whose wives disappeared. Moms who went to school and are professionals, or the parent who suddenly finds themselves alone when the other parent decides to leave. In other words, You, and Me. The Rank and File of daily life. Or, in the words of Sesame Street, the people who you meet, when you're walking down the street, the people who you meet each day.
I'm not a person who receives lucrative multi-million dollar contracts from the state. I'm a person that provides safety, food, and loving care and education, for the children of those parents who refuse to go on welfare-but soon may be forced to because of the current budget situation. I find it hard to believe that our government is willing to sacrifice the services that I, and many others like me, provide, just for the sake of political posturing, and making sure that their business partners are taken care of.
We're the people the current government wants to cut the essential services of, the ones who have worked hard to get where we are, who continue to work hard, who won't quit.
And the ones who will remember this when it comes time to vote again.
Remember this-no matter where I go or what I do, I will vote again!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Picture This

OK, Picture this: It's three a.m.-ish. It's raining and thundering, a real honest-to-goodness midwest storm. I, personally, love a good rainstorm. I mean, really love a good storm. I sleep like a baby. Until, of course, the dog realizes that it's storming. Not just storming, but thundering.
And Everyone knows, any dog over 50 pounds hates a thunderstorm. And so, my 95-ish pound lap dog pushes open the bedroom door with his nose, nails clicking across the old wooden floors, and sits beside my bed and pants. And pants. After a few minutes of panting, he begins to whine. More like a cry , really. And when that doesn't work, he edges closer, and eventually gets up the nerve to stick his nose into my armpit, and rub it around and whine like a baby.
All creatures know a mom when they see one, I think. My dog, the Malamute, see-He's My dog. And he knows it. He knows I'm the one here who gives comfort, and leftovers, and the occasional early morning car ride. So he whines, and nuzzles, and eventually, like my kids when they were babies, he finally manages to wake me. And he's rewarded with the one thing that calms a 95-ish pound baby: a silent ear scratch.
He gets his scratch, and even though the storm doesn't subside immediately, he soon sinks to the floor, nails sliding across the ancient wood. I'm rewarded with a sigh, a sound I've come to realize means he's calmed down enough to not need to be babied anymore tonight. And then, after a little comfort from mom, he sleeps. All he needed was to know that someone was looking out for him. Someone in charge of the pack, in charge of the family.
Like a 70's cross-stitched sampler, I realize, an old mom doesn't die, she just gets new babies.

In General

In General, I loathe summer. I am, for the most part, much like my Alaskan Malamute, who spends three months of the year laying right on top of the vents the air conditioning comes out of. If you try to make him move, he just lays there and stares at you. He doesn't even eat in the summer, or at least not much. If I could sleep through summer, I would. So I just get cranky and grill things so as not heat up the kitchen while making dinner.
I very much prefer Autumn, or even winter. I know, I'm crazy, but hey, I try to live with it.
So, it is with great adulation that I woke this morning to a day of only 70 degrees and possible rain. And my Mal is actually moving today. And since it's been so hot here that you can actually feel your skin burning in the sun, our dear Mal is blowing his coat for the third time this year. (They're not supposed to do that. When a Mal blows his coat, it's like it rains fur-great chunks of it, everywhere, and they walk around looking like someone combed them by sticking a moving fan blade in their fur and running it backwards up their backs. Not pretty-got it? )
Since I have to endure two more months of summer before I get real lasting relief from the heat, I thought I'd make a list of things about summer I do like, in hopes of psyching myself into liking summer...

1. Strawberries
2. Garage Sales
3. Long Days
4. Evenings on our back deck
5. Grilled whatever for dinner ( !No planning! Just throw a slab of something on the grill... )
6. Saturday road trips to antique/junk shops
7. No school for my dd (great girl, love having her home)
8. Home Improvement projects actually getting done (December in Northern IL = frozen paint)
9. Occasional walks through local state parks
10. Local small city-fairs

Of course, if I made a list of things I don't like about summer, it'd be a much longer list, involving Japanese beetles eating my entire backyard, bees, sweat, bees, heat...Well, you get the idea. But I'm ignoring all of that. Really. Trying to, anyway.

Friday, May 22, 2009


A few completely random thoughts from my head today:
1. Why are none of the Chicago Blackhawks from Chicago? I mean, seriously-they couldn't find a single solitary Chicagoan willing to raise a stick slightly off of the ground and beat someone almost to unconciousness, merely to occupy their territory?! I've lived near Chicago for awhile now, and I can only assume that they weren't really trying very hard.( Go , Blackhawks!)
2. Why was I the only nerd in the theatre on opening night who cheered for the part body double/part CGI/part Arnold Terminator? It totally brought the whole series full circle for me. Or am I overthinking this? Nerds? Anyone?
3. And speaking of Terminator, I know at least two people who have quite a lot of metal in their bodies, and they neither one seem to be stronger than normal people. Must be the chip.
4. Why is it that the older I get, the more I like the shows on PBS?
5. How come when I discuss what's wrong with the government with my family, Wal-Mart always comes up?
6. As a former homeschooling parent, I know that schooling any child is difficult. So why do I feel the need to call my dd's teachers on an at-least-weekly-basis, and give them an earful?
7. How come the last three points are questions? (Ummm...four?)
8. Why do I feel the need to give all parents of children younger than mine incessant, constant, non-ceasing advice/orders?
9. And speaking of Wal-Mart, why does almost everyone I know shop there and buy crap made in China/Taiwan/Korea/ETC, then complain about the economy in AMERICA?!!! I mean, DUH!!! Take the time to read a label, people!!!!
10. My grandfather, who was born overseas, had become an american, fought for America in a war, gotten married, and obtained a job in an (AMERICAN!) factory by the time he'd been here five years. He never, ever once bought a car that wasn't American, and he would have been shocked if anyone who was an American that he knew had done so. When I was in high school, one of my teachers told me that it takes three generations to forget anything. I am the third generation. I have NOT forgotten.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Estate Sales

This past weekend, with nothing to do and very little money to spend, dh and I decided to hit some garage/estate sales. We live in a very small area, and we normally don't even need a newspaper to find garage sales. But this particular day we couldn't even find one. Eventually we headed to one Estate Sale dh remembered seeing a sign for earlier in the week.
We followed the signs to the sale, parked, and walked up the road to the house, discussing the beautiful area the house was located in. And then as the house came into view our jaws dropped and we just sort of stopped and stared. It was huge. And we were there early.
The house was sort of a german-inspired chalet. A cool look, really.
Well, there were lots of goodies, in all of the rooms. Rooms, by the way, which were many and varied. We sort of got lost, a little.
In the end, we ended up with a few little treasures. DH got some Chicago Bears glasses, and some stuff from the tool room. I found an entire box of vintage linens with our last initial embroidered on them! A half - round mahogony table for our entry way completed the haul.
Lots of fun, and I like to think that the people who owned the house would be happy to know that someone is enjoying their taste, and their stuff is living on in a new home, well loved.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The House, Again!

It's a semi-warm spring Sunday afternoon, and dh and I are sitting in the living room discussing our future plans for The House. Sounds like a harmless pastime, but the truth is that she's whispering to us while we talk. (The House, I mean-she does that, you know. She whispers. A lot.) We think we own her, but the truth is, she owns us.
Proof positive of this, is that after a few minutes of silence, dh wanders over to a spot on the wall, under the stairs, that has peeling wallpaper, and casually, without saying a word or discussing it, begins to peel off the ugly 80's small print wallpaper. It comes off in a sheet, not in bits and pieces like you see on home improvement shows, but in one huge gigantic sheet of ugly pre-pasted monstrosity. And while dh peels, and The House sheds, the original plaster from the plaster and lathe construction begins to show, we all hold our breath. And when he's gotten a whole sheet off, and we can see actual wall, we let out a breath together, us and The House, as if she can finally breathe again, without that wallpaper there.
Some wives might get mad at the spontenaity of it all, but I know this means the beginning of a project we've discussed numerous times, and that dh knows what I want, and that we are mostly in agreement about what needs to be done, We, and The House.
The House, you see, whispers to me all the time. She has the final say, I'm afraid. Whenever I'm in the bookstore and I find myself drawn to the home improvement section, or I'm channel surfing and find myself on HGTV or PBS, or whenever I'm on the internet without business to conduct, she whispers, and I usually find whatever it is she's trying to tell me.
So while dh and I peel sheet after sheet of ugly wallpaper, and we find the sad shadowy remnants of the original crown molding that some previous idiotic owner removed for no discernable reason, we discuss paint colors, and we listen to what The House is trying to tell us.
Because, like an aged beauty queen who still wears her tiara to the county fair every year to show off to her friends, we don't really care if she's past the bloom of her youth. That very fact is what makes her so special to us.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I am ALIVE!! Or, What I'm currently loving.

So, I just realized that it's been something like 2 and a half months since my last post, and I realize that the title is a little melodramatic, but, hey, I'm a writer, right? So, I'm allowed. In the interval since my last post, we've had Christmas, and New year's, and a new (yeah!!!! FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) president was inaugurated. And that's why it's time for a new post!
Without further ado, here is what I'm currently obsessed with, or what I'm currently loving:
1. It should go without saying, that I'm seriously loving my dear husband. The man is too too terrific, and all other women should be jealous of me. Go ahead. Be jealous. I'll wait.
2. I'm also loving my dear children, who are pretty terrific in their own right. I could go into the reasons, but then I'd just be bragging, and you wouldn't want to listen.
3. Beyond the family is the more ephemeral stuff. So for number 3, I'm going to list my house, which I spend way too much time dreaming about how I'll remodel into the perfect craftsman style house, when I finally get the money.
4. I love all the blogs I'm finding lately, about remodeling houses. I've been on some of the most wonderful blogoshpere vacations lately, if you know what I mean. The net is like a total vacation, in which I can go anywhere I can think of, instantly, even during naptime for the daycare kids, which never, ever, lasts long enough.
5. I'm loving one specific one of my daycare kids. A child of a single mom, she totally reminds me of one of my own kids at that age. I spend a lot of time doling out advice to her mom, like," Just be patient and hang in there! Around five years old she'll suddenly get all of this!"
6. I love being a daycare provider, period. It's like being a mom, except I can go out at night if I want. (As a side benefit, my own kids are old enough to babysit for other, smaller kids, at night, and earn money if they want!)
7. I love being old enough to not feel I have to apologize for everything I say or feel or want. Deal with it!
8. I love being confident enough to feel like I don't have to be a super-worker, -mom, -anything else. If I want to spend my day crocheting and cooking beef stew, I can. I like it, and I don't care what any feminist wannabe thinks about it. It's my house, and I'll clean it, thank you, without waiting for someone else to do it the way I think they should.
9. I love old things. Old quilts, old dishes, my old house, my old china cabinet with my old family china- I love it all, it gives me such a sense of connection with the past, with people I knew and people I didn't. I love stopping at antique stores and finding old things, and wondering who loved them once, and who thought they were ready for the thrift store, and who will one day say something like, "MOM! You sold what?!?"
10. Last and first again, I'm loving family. My mother in law, who has turned out to be the world's best mil. I am sooo blessed, to have such a wonderful woman in my life, when everyone around me hates their mother in laws. I can't even imagine life without her, she's so great. My grandfather in law, who has always called me honey, and who now only remembers family sporadically because of a stroke, but who still has the world's most wonderful disposition anyway, and who has totally taken the place of my own long gone grandparents. My parents, who I miss every day and wish I were nearer to. My siblings, even the ones who taught me what crazy means. The pastor who baptized me.
May God bless them all, because I'm loving them and I'm grateful for them. I hope they know it.