My Week In Review…Week 2

I got such a good response to my last post that I thought I would give you an updated version today.

This one’s called My Week In Review…Week 2.

I know that the last one was so riveting and you were all thinking “GAWD!  I wish her life was my life!  So interesting!”

I know!

I get it!

Cats!

Kids!

And this week…

A walnut ass!


Cornstalk, the stray who stayed, went missing for two days and two nights.

We last saw him as he sauntered out the front door around 9pm on Friday.

He always waits at the back door in the morning to saunter back into the house to get his breakfast.

Saturday morning…no Cornstalk.

Saturday afternoon…no Cornstalk.

Saturday evening…no Cornstalk.

Sunday…repeat.

Gigi wasn’t too upset on Saturday, but she went on a walk into the woods Sunday morning to look for him.

She came back with a tear stained face.

No Corny.

My first thought was that he became a coyote’s dinner.

Or that he fell into a hole.

He’s pretty slow moving, so if he came upon a coyote or a hole, that would be it for him.

Man-Farmer (aka Chad the Husband) thought maybe he was stuck in a tree.

Because last month he ran up a tree when the dog came up to him and Man -Farmer had to get the ladder to haul him down.

He just couldn’t figure it out.

Too bad firemen don’t do that job anymore.

I bet lots of cats still get stuck in trees.

So, Man-Farmer and Gigi went into the woods Sunday morning, looking UP and DOWN and OVER THERE and BEHIND THIS…

nothing.

Nothing but a sweet, sad, almost 9 year old goldilocks girl with pain in her heart where a cat had been.

Monday morning we had to get up at 6am.

It was a school holiday, but big sister Zoe had a band audition in another town and had to be at school at 7:00 to ride a bus an hour and a half south.

So, my alarm went off.

I went to the back door and opened it to let the dog out to pee and…

CORNSTALK!

He came back!

For some weird reason Gigi had gotten up.

Maybe her cat-sense had alerted her?

She came into the kitchen and I said “look who’s here.”

She lit up like a cake full of candles at an 80th birthday party.

Her cat was back home.

I hope he appreciates her as much as she appreciates his fat head.


Over the summer I saw this conjoined-twin coneflower growing near the pool deck.

coneflowers

I was mesmerized by it.

Every other coneflower that had burst from the earth this summer in my yard was a single flower and stem.

But, not this beauty.

And then I saw this today.

walnut butt

We have a gajillion black walnut trees in our yard and about a zaquillion black walnuts on the ground.

Tripping us and hoping to crack us on the head on their way down from the branches overhead.

It’s a conjoined-twin walnut.

It’s a butt!

Doesn’t it look like a butt?

It’s a butt-nut.

**snicker-snort**


Zoe wanted to get her hair cut short.

She always had it up in a pony tail.

She had said she wanted to get an asymmetrical type cut.

Shorter on one side and longer on the other.

We found a picture online of some young gal with the style she wanted.

And I was doing an inner cartwheel because I have a short asymmetrical haircut and somewhere in my mind I was thinking “she wants to be like me!”

But, it probably had absolutely nothing to do with me.

She would surely tell you that.

Now, as a person with short hair and as someone who’s had short hair since the mid 1980s, I can tell you this…

It can be VERY hard to find a stylist who is willing to cut your hair short.

VERY HARD.

I think they are afraid to cut too short and therefore don’t always go as short as is wanted.

And I come from the camp of…it’s hair, it grows back.

Cut it short.

So, Zoe got her hair whacked off, but it’s not as short in the back as she wanted it.

And so yet again, the problem of the “afraid to snip too short” stylist has entered our lives.

It’s a cute cut.

It’s not exactly the picture we showed her.

But, it’s good.

And she looks fab.

Her smile says it all.

short hair

And for a girl who had trouble growing her hair (because she lost it three times going through chemotherapy treatments) I was totally apprehensive about her cutting it.

She reassured me that it would grow back.

It had grown longer than her oncologist had predicted.

He didn’t think it would grow past her shoulders.

Cranial radiation can do that to ya.

But, just as she beat all other odds stacked against her, her hair grew past her shoulders.

She confidently placed herself into the salon chair and let the scissors do their work.

Next time, she wants it to be shorter.

I’m happy that she allowed her old mom some leeway into her foray of the soon-to-be-teen life she’s venturing into.

She’s a swell gal like that.

In fact, she’s the most amazing person I know.

Sometimes she’s more in charge than I am.

More mature.

And sometimes I have to remind her to be a kid.


Our house is small and we don’t have an extra room for the kids to work in.

No playroom.

No work studio.

No nothing.

So, Gigi uses our kitchen table for all of her projects.

Currently her side of the table looks like this…

gigis table

She’s in her slime and geocaching phases currently.

She regularly makes slime using glue and laundry detergent.

The addition of glitter provides sparkle.

Small rubber bands and plastic beads add texture and sound when the slime is squished around in one’s hands.

Geocaching is a hobby that she does with her dad.

Man-Farmer has an app on his phone that allows the two of them to find treasures hidden by strangers anywhere.

And I mean anywhere.

With a general idea on a location and possible a clue about it’s whereabouts, they search on electric poles that are situated down country roads and in bushes located in Central Park.

Searching for little containers that a stranger has hidden.

She finds what’s been hidden and she opens her bag that she carries on her shoulder.

A denim purse she won at school last year in her classroom.

A purse that her teacher undoubtedly didn’t use anymore, but a purse that a child would find to be SO COOL.

In her bag she has treasures, treasures to add to the geocache containers she finds.

Little erasers in the shapes of penguins and kites.

Small tokens of nature or a tiny martian figurine.

Usually the container holds a small strip of paper that Gigi will write the date on that she found the geocache.

And she adds her geocache name, which is also her YouTube name.

Yes, the kid has a YouTube channel.

Rainbow Pandas.

Check it out.

Click right here to get a glimpse into an 8 year old’s mind.

Don’t forget the S at the end of Panda.

It makes all the difference.

There’s even a video with her claw machine seen in the above photo.

So, my dining room table contains slime and geocache materials.

The joys of a girl with golden hair.

Who has a cat named Cornstalk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Week In Review…

I went to my youngest daughter’ s school to help count money with fellow PTO moms.

We were counting donations given to students for a fundraiser.

It was only after I was back home that I saw the GIANT BLACK HAIR sticking out of my chin.

Sorry Carrie.

Carrie is the mom who was sitting to my left and was closest to my whisker.

And all of the other moms there were wearing shirts with our kids’ school logo on it.

I was wearing a shirt with my husband’s work on it…


My oldest wants to be Dr. John Watson for Halloween.

Huh?!

Oh, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

I see.

What does he wear?

A bowler hat and a suit, ya say?

And a big fuzzy mustache.

Gender-bender costume it will be.

And her sister…

She wants to be the devil.

We have tried to explain to her that Halloween is about dressing up as something that you aren’t.

“What is that supposed to mean?” she asked begrudgingly.

“You are already the devil” her sister matter-of-factly responded.


I made a lemon meringue pie.

I would have liked to make an apple pie, but I haven’t been to a good orchard yet and  don’t want to use store apples during fall pie baking season.

It seems wrong.

So, I made lemon pie.

And rolling out my dough was one of the most magical things I had done in a long time.

pie

Because I finally have a useable work surface in my kitchen.

I have a new *used* butcher block table.

NEW to my house, but USED as it’s from my husband’s work.

The work that was on my shirt when I was with the other moms who screamed school spirit.


The stray who has stayed, Cornstalk, has found his way into our house.

He isn’t neutered yet and I have a huge fear that he’s going to spray his tom-cat stink on my new couch.

So we try to corral him in the kitchen and dining room areas.

But, I did find him here on Monday…

cornstalk


I feel a distance growing within myself.

A distance with others.

With my past.

That doesn’t want to be in my future.

Meaning people.

People from the past getting farther away from me.

Our commonalities are not what they once were.

And I’m okay with that, I think.

I have unfollowed 99% of people I have “friended” on FB.

Meaningful conversations seem to have flown the coop.

Society is shifting into a nasty place.

And I’m trying to shut it out.

There are so many “causes” and I feel as if I can’t communicate what moves me anymore because people are done.

Just done.

I’m trying to surround my small little life on this planet with people who care about me.

Who are generally interested.

And I’m finding that my circle is getting smaller and smaller and smaller every passing day.

I don’t think most people will even realize I’m gone.


My oldest is on her school yearbook staff this school season.

She is a photographer and we have been working on “getting a good shot.”

Photography has become a passion for me.

Finding the right light.

Finding a good subject.

Waiting and waiting for the best shot.

She went to her first assignment…middle school girls basketball game.

She got some really good pictures.

“I had NO idea what was happening out there” said my non-sports kid when I picked her up from the game.

“As long as you got the shot on your camera” I told her.

I love that she is artistic.

She writes stories.

She plays music.

She takes pictures.

Some people are meant to play sports.

And some people are meant to take amazing photographs of those people.

We all have a place.


I have learned that finding a purposeful life for myself is infinitely harder the older I get.

I don’t really know what to do with myself anymore.

Don’t know who I’m supposed to be.

I used to be…college student.

Then I was…dancer.

Then I was…veterinary technician.

Then I became…mom.

Then I became a…momcologist.

My least favorite but most meaningful job assignment to date.

Then I became…recess lady at my kids’ school.

Then I became………

nothing.

I am feeling purposeless.

I am on the substitute teacher list at my kids’ school, but no one has called me to sub.

So I sit.

And wait.

And think.

And hear about all of the subs that are at the school (my kids are sure to tell me where they saw subs during the school day) and I get into my own head more and more…

did I offend someone?

do they not want me at school?

What’s my purpose now?

I have many interests, but how do I make money doing them?

I’m still working on it.

Wondering if I’ll ever find purpose again…

 

Horse Teeth and Television

Nothing is really happening these days and we are completely happy with that.

Some days I wake up and find that the most important thing on my “to-do” list is to clean out the chicken coop.

The farm vet came out to our place last week.

The goats and the horse get shots every year.

The horse gets a west nile and rabies shot…bats and mosquitos are plentiful in their neck of the woods…their stall is right at the base of the neck that extends into the forest behind the barn.

The goats get some sort of combo shot to prevent goat diseases.  I don’t even know what’s in it.  Chasing a goat around a barn stall exerts a lot of energy and as the vet didn’t bring a technician with her, I was her helper.

The barn cats (who are our 6 year old kittens) got their rabies shots.  I give them their feline distemper/combo shots every year.  I but them from the farm supply store and inject them when they are sleeping soundly on someone’s’ bed in the house.   The barn cats spend most of their daylight hours sleeping in our house.

Cornstalk is our newest cat and I gave him his feline distemper/combo shot last week.  He’s FIV Positive and can be treated medically just like any other cat.  I know this because one of my besties is a cat veterinarian in Chicago and I trust every single thing she has to say about cats…always.

We met when I was a tech (at the hospital in the link I just gave ya so that you can learn about FIV in cats) and it was her first big job out of animal college.

We hit it off tremendously.

That was 16 years ago.

Cornstalk is going to be neutered and get his rabies shot next month.

He’s a stray who has decided to stay.

The horse needed to have her teeth filed down.

It’s called “teeth floating”. I don’t know why it’s called that, but it did need to be done.

All I know about horses I have learned from the book Horses For Dummies.

I know a lot about cats and little about ponies.

That book has been a saving grace for me.

Buttercup’s teeth were not bad.  The molars on the top and bottom in the back of her mouth were starting to get points on them.  She’s a lucky pony in that in the 6 years that we have had her, she’s never needed this procedure before.  The farm vet that there are some horses that need their teeth floated every 6 months!  If the back molars in a horse develop points on them then it becomes harder for them to eat their food.  They may drop grain out of their mouths and lose weight.

Buttercup has not been dropping grain (that she only gets in the winter, by the way) and is a hefty sized pony.

But, I didn’t want her teeth to start getting worse or to affect her eating so the vet floated her teeth.

She gave her an IV injection in her neck vein of a light sedative.

Nothing that caused her to want to lie down.

Just enough sedative to make her happy and groggy.

Horsey happy.

She then stuck this large metal apparatus into her mouth.

She called it a speculum.

I suppressed a giggle at that because that was one hell of a speculum.

Nothing at all like the speculum that I have seen at my doctor!

I had to hold the horse’s tongue to one side as the vet used a super long dremel drill with a flat file-type attachment on the opposite side of her mouth.

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Then we switched sides.

Then Buttercup got her mouth rinsed out with some water from a super big syringe.

That was that and I wrote out a check for a lot of money (oy!) and everyone was fine for the rest of the day.


Tonight on PBS the Ken Burns documentary about the Vietnam War begins.

It’s a multi-night event.

I’m not even sure how multi-night it is, but I’m going to watch the whole thing.

As is Man-Farmer (he and I were little, little when the war was underway) and our 12 year old will be watching with us.

She’s been told that viewing is not an option and all electronics are to be put away.

In fact, her phone will be hidden from her because I’m going to get to it before she does and I’m going to hide it.

History is much more important than her Pinterest boards.


Speaking of television, I am anticipating with twitter-patted feet the return of Poldark to PBS and also the show The Durrells in Corfu.

PBS is my main-thang.

They seem to have had a lull for me this summer after The Great British Baking Show ended its season.  But, the fall season looks engaging.

I don’t watch the main television channels much at all.

I always tune into CBS’s Morning Show during the week.  Their segments are longer than the other morning programs and there’s not a lot of fluff.  Fluff being celebrities and cooking junk.

My new favorite addiction is Outlander on Starz.

The show just began its third season.

I just began watching season two.  Finished up with season one last week.

It’s a period piece and I LOVE a period piece.  It switches between the 1940s in England with the 1700s in Scotland.  Season two has the characters living in Paris, France.

Swoon.

There are attractive actors having lots of hot sex and they wear amazing costumes.

Double Swoon.

The television series is based on the book series by the same title, written by Diana Gabaldon.

My friend Heather has read the series, loves it (she’s of Scottish ancestry and eats up anything to do with The Highlands) and I have been intrigued by it.  When I saw the show I just dove into it.

Autumn begins next week and while the weather has been warm this weekend (almost 90 degrees) I know that cooler days are coming.

Which will lead to colder evenings.

Which will lead to more togetherness for this small family living in this small house on this small acreage in Illinois.

 

Bedside Table Reading

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I’ve found some good books and have plowed through a nice selection during the hottest days of summer and into the coolness of almost-fall.

Right now on my bedside table is Rosemary-The Hidden Kennedy Daughter.
What a story!
But’s it’s not a book of fiction, it’s the true story of the eldest Kennedy daughter who was born with brain damage and lived a life of confusion and control.  She was moved to so many different schools that I have lost count.  The status of someone born at the end of WWI who had limited mental capacity was a recipe for disaster.  Education for those with learning difficulties was in its infancy.  And many people were thrown into institutions where the residents were a mix of those with true mental health problems such as schizophrenia and those that were poor and had a hard time reading because they had dyslexia.  Rosemary was kept out of places like this because she was a Kennedy.  The Kennedys did not want scandal.  So they kept her hidden away.  Taking her out only when they could completely control her every move.  Then her father thought she should have a lobotomy.  Even though experts in the medical world advised against such an unknown procedure.  She was hidden away even farther away from the public after her disastrous surgery.  Rosemary was the reason why her sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver started her work with people with intellectual and learning disabilities.  Work that later evolved into The Special Olympics.

I read three different books based on Paris or Parisians.
The first was the true story of Lisa Anselmo who loses her mother to cancer and who decides to take that leap that she’s always wanted to take and buys an apartment in Paris.
She lives part-time in New York and part-time in Paris.
Her Paris apartment needs renovations and she finds that things don’t always go as planned.  It was an interesting read because I liked looking at real Paris neighborhoods through her eyes, but she did get a bit whiny.  Too many tourists (even though she had been one for years) and the relationship that she had with her mom didn’t seem quite as rosy as she had first let on.  Overall, I enjoyed the idea she planted that you must live the life that YOU want or you won’t truly be happy.

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The Little Paris Bookshop was intriguing.  A man has a boat on the Seine River that houses books.  A floating bookstore!   And he knows what book you NEED based on having a small conversation with you.  But he’s plagued by a woman from his past.  Who he has never gotten over.  Wonderful characters emerge as his sidekicks as he navigates the riverways heading from Paris to Southern France.  Always looking for what he believes is his truth.  The ending was a bit hokey for me, but overall I really enjoyed this story.  The author has written another book that I’ll be checking out from the library at some point.

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The Velvet Hours is also a book about the Paris I love.  Paris during the late 1800’s is highlighted and it’s the story about a woman who meets her father’s mother and develops a strong bond with her.  A bond that her father never was able to hold with his mother.  It’s the story of how this woman’s grandmother became the person she ended up being, her life’s journey told through recollections.  I loved it from beginning to end.

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Hillbilly Elegy was recommended to me by a mom friend I have while we were sitting waiting for our daughters to finish up at tumbling practice.  I saw it sitting on the shelf at the library the next week, so I knew I had to snatch it up.  It is the true account of one man who grew up with loving, but hard-edged grandparents and a mom who was plagued with her own self-doubt.  It’s the story of how America’s hill people (Appalachian Mountain people) where moving into the cities of the north that promised hard work and good rewards.  And they got those things, but the hill county ideals never left their souls.  And the struggles they worked through and thought that they had left behind followed and flowed into future generations.  After reading this and seeing some characteristics from my own family, my mother’s side of the family, I realized that this elegy rings true a bit for me as well.

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In light of recent news about North Korea’s nuclear exploits, this book was thought provoking on so many levels.  Ordinary North Koreans have become keenly aware in the 21st Century to the true ideals of their country’s leaders.  Their well-being is not one of them.  Food is scarce, housing is primitive, education is non-existent.  All of this rings true for anyone who hasn’t been selected by the political leaders as being worthy.  Medicine is scarce, the government dictates where you live, where you can work, whether or not you can get food if you do work as money doesn’t exist in North Korea.  It’s a regime like no other in the world.

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The Radium Girls is the true story of the perseverance of women who have been wronged.  Radium was seen as a wonder when it was discovered.  It literally made you glow in the dark.  No one told these women that working with it during WW2 would eventually kill them.  Secrets were kept to help pad the pockets of men.  But, when women started getting sick, their teeth literally falling out of their mouths and their jaw bones crumbling into powder, action was taken by a group of very sick but strong-willed former workers.  Women who took on big business.  Women who changed the way safety in the workplace is handled today.  We owe these women a lot.

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A good quick read.
The Silent Wife.
Abuse.
Scandal.
Secrets.
Redemption.
All a great mix and worthy of a look.

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I found this as I was walking through the library one day.  I always enjoy a Stephen King novel.  This wasn’t nearly as good as I had hoped it would be.  I needed more scare and this didn’t hit it for me.  While the idea was good, the outcome left me wanting MUCH more.

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WHAT A BOOK!  I loved this one.  I saw this at Barnes and Noble and took a picture of it to remind me to look for it at our local library.  It did not disappoint.  It’s a story about maternal love, about losing someone that you didn’t think you would ever see again, it’s about the ultimate in forgiveness, it’s about realizing that the world isn’t really as big as you imagine it to be, and it’s about family.
Get it.
Read it.
Tell me what you think.

teabook

When The Road Is Closed

Our road was closed this past week.

The county was replacing a drain culvert and had torn apart the asphalt.

We weren’t even aware that this was going to happen until the company that busses our kids home from school called.

“Your road is going to be closed next week so we will need to drop them off at the corner instead” said the supervisor at the bus barn.

The next day we noticed signs had been set aside in the grass next to the pavement, waiting to be placed in the middle of the street on Monday morning.

Our road can get pretty busy at times.

It’s a two lane-main thoroughfare that connects the area of town called South Shores with County Highway 30.

County Highway 30 then connects with Highway 121 that will lead you to towns called Shelbyville, Sullivan, and in the other direction, the Decatur airport.

There’s also a busier four lane highway just west of us which is State Highway 51 and that runs north to Bloomington/Normal (home of my alma mater, Illinois State University) and south to Southern Illinois and Carbondale (home of the SIU Salukis.)

So, for people to head down our road expecting to meet up with CH 30 and instead finding two signs saying “Road Closed” there were some confusion.

Three houses sit on this end of the road.

Our house, our neighbors who homeschool, and Roger.

Roger’s family has lived in this area almost as long as our family has.

In fact, his parents rented a room in our house (when it was much bigger than it currently is) when they were first married.

It was at Roger’s house that the drain culvert was replaced.

So, the only cars that should have been driving down our street during the closure should have been our three families.

And the construction workers.

And the few people who wanted to ride their horses at the horse trail next door to our farm.

horsebutts

Everyone else…ROAD CLOSED!

But, for some, signs mean nothing.

The actual work being done to the road could not be seen from our mailbox.

It was being done around the curve in the road.

I never actually saw anything torn up.

But, I could hear it.

Remember when I said the bus barn had called?

Well, since the girls couldn’t be dropped off at the end of our driveway, I stood at the end of my curvy gravel drive to wave to Zoe as she walked her way home from the corner.

When it was time for Gigi to get off of the bus (they ride two different busses because they go to school in two different towns…the elementary school is in a town 20 minutes from us and the middle/high school is closer at a 10 minute drive away), I would walk down the street (or drive and sit in the car if I was feeling lazy as I was feeling twice last week) to meet her and walk home.

There were two large *Road Closed To Thru Traffic* signs that the county had set up to warn people that they couldn’t go this way.

 

road closed

You can just make out my mailbox in the background.  The roadwork is being done farther down as the road curves to the left.  

They were set up to accommodate cars and trucks access if they indeed lived in the three houses or were working on the road.

Yet, there were some people who saw the signs.

Read the signs.

Drove around the signs.

Drove down the road and around the curve.

Only to pass my house again a minute later because, guess what?

The road was closed!

As I stood at the corner waiting for the bus or at the end of my driveway leaning on the mailbox waiting for Zoe to walk home, I saw them.

And I spoke with some.

“Is this road really closed?” was a common question.

I had so many smart-ass comments just waiting to spill out of my mouth, but I was proud of myself when I kept them in and instead offered up alternative travel routes for people.

“You need to back through the signs and turn left.  Go to the four lane highway and turn left again.  Then turn left at the big intersection and you’ll be on the road you are trying to get to”

90% of the people I saw driving down the closed road who didn’t believe the signs were men.

The last person I spoke with on Friday was a woman with a very thick accent who I repeated the correct travel directions to about 12 times.  She pulled around in my driveway, went back through the Road Closed signs and…

went the wrong way.

Sigh.

All week I sat on my front porch watching the limited traffic and wondering why some people see a sign that more or less says NO to them and they think…well, that doesn’t mean ME.

Why didn’t the sign mean anything to this limited group of people?

Are these people who see a flooded street and even though they’ve heard repeated warnings about not driving through, they drive through anyway?

Are these the same people who believe in fake news?

“That can’t possibly be true!” they exclaim when they see reports of melting glaciers, a president with a low approval rating, or Road Closed Ahead sign.

I mean, the Road Closed signs were big.

And there were a few set up on the shoulder of the road before the really big ones were placed in the middle of the street.

For some people, rules just do not apply to them.

Everyone else, sure.

Just not them.

Why?

What goes through someone’s mind who see a sign that says “Don’t Go This Way!” and yet, they go that way?

They couldn’t actually see the road closure from the area where the big signs were placed…so how could it possibly be true?

Climate change deniers in vehicles?

I’m certainly placing many assumptions on people who don’t follow the rules.

And, let me tell you, I’m not always that big on following the rules myself.

Wear This/Act Like This/Think These Thoughts…I am more of an individual when it comes to these rules.  I don’t like to always follow the crowd.

Man-Farmer and I have been in many situations where we call everyone around us lemmings as we DON’T follow the large crowd through an area and instead find our own way.

But, if I see a sign that says Road Closed, I presume it’s the truth.

And I do follow the crowd through the detours.

Because sometimes signs are meant to be believed.

Warning: High Voltage

Do Not Feed The Bears

Danger: Steep Cliff: Stay Back

Road Closed

All should be adhered to and steps should be taken to avoid the inevitable if you don’t stop-read-and follow directions.

Or…

electrocution

a bear’s dinner

death by tumbling over cliff

nowhere to go

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I try to teach my daughters to have individualist lines of thought.

To not necessarily follow the crowd.

To think for themselves.

But, at times we should look at the signs and see that they hold very true meanings for us.

Even if it’s as simple as seeing that a road is closed, we find an alternate route.

Embrace it.

Experience it with open eyes.

Allow yourself to feel fear if you’re scared, but know that it’s a temporary feeling.

Because you’ll undoubtedly see things on the new route that will reawaken you…

…on your new path.

Just have some common sense about it though. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dumping Grounds

We live in the country.

Rural America.

But not too rural.

The Dairy Queen is a 6 minute drive directly north on my street.

Having quick access to peanut buster parfaits is vitality important to my happiness on this planet.

I like that we live in a country-like setting, with a barn and farm animals, but I also like that we are a short drive away from the grocery store, the yogurt shoppe, and the library.

I live on a road that the snowplow drives down first after a big snowfall because it’s a main thoroughfare.

Living in the “almost” country means that people think that we are country-enough for them…heck it took them 15 minutes to get here and there are cornfields everywhere!

So, they dump.

Televisions.

Couches.

Dogs.

Cats.

Baby raccoons.

The side road, which takes me a whole 1 minute to walk to, is a known dumping ground for large household goods that have outworn their welcome in someone’s home.

So, in the dead of night, they come.

To dump that pee stained couch or that television that “never quite worked right” or the tires that have been gathering water in the yard.

Someone else’s problem now.

Dump it on the side of the road and their problem is over and the start of the problem of proper disposal begins for someone else.

And on the street around the corner from my house, that “someone else” equates to farmers.

There are two farmers who use the fields across from our house.

One is Howard Buffett.

Yep, Warren Buffett’s son.

The other is unknown to me, but he does employ an entirely different style of crop management and ditch mowing practices than Howard.

We found a dog on that road some years back.

Well, my mom found the dog as she was driving by on her way to our house with a bucket of KFC.

“There’s a dog tied up to the fence over there” she said as we were setting the table.

Well, of course I had to go look.

There was indeed a dog, but she wasn’t tied up.

Just a sad and scared little pit bull sitting next to a fence surrounding some electrical stuff.

She came over to me and ate the piece of chicken that I brought with me from the KFC bucket.

Her story is a long and sad one that I wrote about in my old blog.

We have also had a very wiggly boxer dog show up in our yard.

So wiggly that we couldn’t keep him contained very well.

He wiggled out of the barn.

He wiggled out of the pasture.

Animal Control couldn’t get here fast enough…he had no tags or microchip.

I hope he found a good home.  He was sweet.

A few stray, but feral cats have wandered over.

Our cat Kit Kat was found in our barn about 9 years ago.

And just recently Gigi and I were down at the end of our driveway getting the mail when we heard a loud mewing coming from the cornfield across the street.

A large black and white cat came running to us.

Followed us back up the driveway.

Walked with us to the barn.

He’s never left.

Gigi has named him Cornstalk.

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A few weeks back, Man-Farmer and I were sitting out on the pool deck enjoying a cool, late-summer evening.

Conservation had closed the gate to their parking lot.

We can see the lot from our side yard.

As we were relaxing in the quiet of the early night we saw a guy walking around over there.

“Another yawho who doesn’t understand that the trails are closed for the night” my husband said as he shook his head.

The guy had on a bright orange shirt, sunset orange, so he was easy to follow with my eyes even though the prairie grass was tall and hadn’t been mowed down yet for the Fall.

And then he suddenly disappeared from our eyesight.

And then he was there again.

Two motorcycles pulled up to the gate at this time, using the rocky entrance as a spot to turn around and head back the way they came.

Sunset orange guy stopped dead in his tracks.

Pacing a bit, seeming unsure what to do because he thought he was all alone.

All alone except for the two people next door who had by now walked over to the edge of the tall grass to try to get a better look at what he was doing.

It was when we finally got back to his car that I saw that he was holding a bag.

And then he sped off.

“Oh great” I said, “he’s dumped something over there.”

I got my shoes on and Man-Farmer and I walked down to the front of our yard, around the tall prairie grass and into the gravel driveway of the conservation parking lot.

What would we find?

A puppy?

A kitten?

Thoughts even of a human baby entered my mind…you just never know.

The light was really beginning to fade now.

The time was between 8:30 and 9 in the evening.

It was getting cooler in the evenings as autumn would be approaching within the next month and a half.

Man-Farmer walked much faster than me.

He has never been able to let go of his “city walking” speed.

Even though he’s been a country dweller for a decade now.

He got to the dumped item before me.

It looked like a kitten.

Splayed out in the mowed area of grass that’s behind the information sign.

As Man-Farmer approached he didn’t bend down to pick it up…which is odd because he loves kittens.

“I think it’s a raccoon” he stated.

“WHAT?!” I bellowed

Just after my bellowing ended I heard something to my right.

In the tall prairie grass was another baby raccoon.

Trying to crawl around, but getting nowhere.

Man-Farmer still inhibits many City-Guy traits (fast walking) and so wild animals do freak him out a bit.

“Pick that one up” I said to him as he still stood over the one in the short grass as I scooped the baby out of the tall grass.

Still being a bit hesitant, I reassured him that the baby raccoon was no different than a kitten.  It wouldn’t bite him at all.

He picked his raccoon up and we headed back home with our find.

I assessed the situation once we got in the house.

One male.

One female.

5-6 weeks old.

Not at all capable of taking care of themselves yet.

The “very country” daughters that we have immediately attacked the babies with lots of snuggles and exclamations of “OMG, THEY ARE SO CUTE!  I LOVE THEM BOTH SO MUCH! CAN WE KEEP THEM FOREVER?!”

I do have a veterinary background, but raccoon care is not something I know much about so I called a few people.  Luckily both answered the telephone.

The first call was to the Illinois Raptor Center, who I knew would not take raccoons, but who I knew would know someone who would.

“What is wrong with people?” the director at the raptor center declared into the phone as I told her what I had in my dining room at the moment.

She gave the telephone number of a wildlife center south of my town that took in orphaned mammals.

When I called the number she gave me for Herrick Wildlife Rescue, Anne answered the phone and after I told her my story, she also responded with the identical sentence “What is wrong with people?”

It took me just a few minutes on my laptop to find the right place to take these two tiny wild animals.

Dumping them in a country-like setting would never have crossed my mind.

And I don’t know why it crossed the mind of the man in the sunset orange t-shirt, but he for some reason thought that what he was doing was the right thing.

I don’t know where the mother to these two babies was.

I don’t know how he came into possession of two defenseless baby raccoons.

I don’t know where his heart and head got mixed up.

Because they would have frozen to death if a coyote didn’t eat them first.

Zoe and I drove out to Walmart to get some kitten replacement milk powder and two baby bottles (my favorite farm store was closed up for the night) and once we got home we made up some bottles for two very hungry babies.

They slept quietly through the night in a purple cat carrier.

The girls and I got up in the morning and fed them another bottle before heading south.

In case you didn’t know…

the sound most similar to baby raccoons crying for milk…dolphins.

Really.

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It took almost an hour to find the raccoon refuge as we drove over the hilliest roads I have ever seen in Central Illinois…”how do they get out in the snow on these roads!” kept creeping out of my mouth each time we went over a hill and made a steep descent back down to do it about 12 more times.

This hill thing went on for so long that I was starting to think “did I even take the right road?” when it appeared…

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We pulled into the driveway and I called from the car as it was only 8am, but people who work with baby animals usually get up at the crack of dawn, and was greeted by a woman on feeding duty.  She met us at the door and lead us through the house to get information on where we found them and what my contact information was.

They had about 40 other raccoons at the time and would add Boy and Girl (the names we gave them to not let ourselves get attached) to the roster and routine.

She introduced the us to a three day old fawn that they had received the day before from someone who found her walking down the side of a road.  Fawns with mothers do not walk down roadways.  They hide in the grass where mom has told them to hide until she gets back.  Her mom must never have come back.

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We left Boy and Girl in very good hands and felt very confident that they would grow into happy and healthy raccoons who will be released back into the wild when they are able to feed themselves.

Yesterday my cousin was out for a walk when a little squirrel attached itself to her foot.

squirrel

It wouldn’t leave her alone.

She also called the Raptor Center (we both have known the program director there since we were kids) and he said to bring it in to him.

He assessed it, determined it was too young and had run to the shoe hoping the shoe would give it some milk,  and he would take it to Anne at Herrick Wildlife Rescue.

After situations like this, when I can sit back and think about the idea that there are people out there like the man in the sunset orange shirt, there are plenty of other people willing to help with the unwanted.

The dumped.

The throw-aways.

I hope to always stay on the helping side of the equation.

I hope you do the same…

 

 

The Sisters

Another school year started for my kids yesterday.

We have a seventh grader and a third grader.

The oldest is excited to go to school.  Says that she’s looking forward to the new year.  She is in a couple of advanced classes and in humanities she’s mixed with upperclassman…eighth graders!  They are going to read The Diary of Anne Frank and she’s hyped about that.

I asked her yesterday “Do you know where Anne and her family lived when they were in hiding?”

“No Mom, we haven’t started the book yet!”

I didn’t tell her…her knowledge to gain and she can tell us all about it later.

The youngest is not being positive.  She wants to stay home.  She wants to be homeschooled.

I know that her outlook will change once she gets back into the classroom.

Back with her friends.

Back into her schedule.

Back into the groove of learning about volcanoes and whatever else third graders learn about.

Both kids will be seeing the solar eclipse on Monday.  Someone donated enough Eclipse glasses for every student in our district to wear.

Solar eclipse or not,  change does make Gigi anxious.

She’s a hand-holder.

She’s a leaner.

She’s a hider.

She doesn’t like chitchat.

She doesn’t like personal questions.

Her sister is the exact opposite.

She will talk to anyone.

She makes eye contact.

She will take her parents’ advice and if we suggest “go to your teacher tomorrow and ask him A/B/C about that assignment” she will do it.

She gets results.

Being put in front of television cameras at a young age, meeting state senators and the governor of our state, having reporters interview her…all of this has helped her to be the strong pre-teen that she now is.

She gives her insecure sister advice.  We think her baby sis is listening.  She tends to roll her eyes and look out the window when this advice is being given.

I sometimes feel like the almost thirteen year old is easier to get along with than the soon-to-be nine year old is.

Not only do these sisters look different from one another…brunette vs blonde…green eyes vs blue eyes…a face covered in freckles vs a face with a single freckle near the right eye…they have different personalities.

Taking advice from your older sister is an age-old idea.  And I’ve had to remind the younger sister to listen to her sister’s advice.  To give her ideas a try sometimes.  To not be so combative.

Little sister can be a bit moody.  She likes to kick at her big sister and screams things that she shouldn’t say at times.  We constantly discuss with her that she needs to tone it down.

And then something happens that restores my faith in her internal sweetness.

Monday, big sister wasn’t feeling well.  She rode too many spinning carnival rides in a row at the Illinois State Fair and was nauseous and just wanted to lay down in the car.  We left the fair early and drove the 45 minutes back home with big sister resting her head on the car window with her eyes closed.

As we were heading east on the highway (grandpa was driving and the three of us were in the back seat together) I saw it…little sister would put her hand on big sister’s leg.  She would lean over and look at her face to see if she was okay.  She was being compassionate.

She’s got a big heart.

She likes to rescue stray cats.

She isn’t as tough as she lets on sometimes.

She isn’t fooling us.

She makes us all laugh on a regular basis.

I see this and I know she listens to us.

sisters2

She’s going to be okay

After I took this picture, they heard me behind them and yelled “What are you doing MOOOOM!” as I ran from the room.

Oh nothing girls…

just making a keepsake for my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battles With Quinoa And Librarians

My daughter had a late birthday party this weekend.

She’s a winter baby.

February to be exact.

She was born in the deep, cold winter that gets its arms around Northerners.

The kind of cold that burns it way down into your lungs when you first step outside.

She was born in Evanston, Illinois 12 years ago.

Evanston is the first northern suburb that butts up against the last northern neighborhood in Chicago.  We were residents of that last northern neighborhood in 2005. It’s called East Rogers Park.  East because there is indeed a West Rogers Park.  East Rogers Park has nestled itself up against Lake Michigan.  The beach is beautiful in this northernmost Chicago neighborhood.  Not too crowded.  Very dog friendly.  And very cold in the winter.

It gets hard to celebrate your birthday when you are a kid when you have a winter birthday.  And it gets hard for mom to think of things to do with friends during the winter.  We have already had *these are all that I can remember right now…

a dance party (where she takes dance class)

an indoor mini waterpark party

an arty party at the local arts council

and an indoor rock climbing party that involves climbing up 65 feet in a converted grain silo.  And we drove through an actual blizzard for an hour to get to this silo with 5 of her friends.

zoesilo

So, I’m both running out of ideas and I’m running out of patience with winter birthday planning.

The same day we drove through that blizzard to climb 65 feet up, Zoe’s former tutor (back from her days with cancer) and her entire family of 5 got into a head on collision.  All survived thankfully.  But you can NEVER predict winter weather and so therefore, it’s hard to plan birthday gatherings.

So, this past February we skipped a party with her friends.

And opted to wait until it was summer to plan a pool party at our house.

So, that’s what happened this weekend.  Three kids couldn’t make it because they were all out of town for vacation.  Bummer.  But we had a good group for a “It’s Not My Birthday Today, But Let’s Celebrate My 12th Year Of Life Today!” party.  It was about 104 degrees and our pool sits in full sun during the peak of the day.

And no, we still haven’t gotten our air conditioning fixed in the house.

It’s been a steamy 90 degrees in my living room this past week.

I feel like I’m both losing weight and I’m building stronger character.

And my winter baby had a great afternoon with her friends.

pool party


Why is quinoa still a thing?

I thought it would be passé now, like kale.

Oh wait, I think there’s still a kale bandwagon.

Can’t they both hop on the next out-of-town bus to Nowheresville?

I have tried using quinoa, but it was a disaster for me.

The little bubbly balls kept sticking to everything.

It felt like I was working with Styrofoam peanuts when I was trying my chef skills out on it last year during an adventure with it and some peanuts to make some sort of salad.

I got a “what in tarnation is this?” reaction from my family when I sat it on the dining room table.

“It’s quinoa.  It’s supposed to be good for us” I said, trying to sound upbeat.

We all hated it.

As much as we all hated kale when we tried that.

Maybe the chia seeds I recently bought will be the clincher for us.

The new health food that we actually like.

Or

Maybe not.


On another food note, let me throw this out to you…

Nutella spread and pizza.

Have you tried it?

Not separately, but together.

In one monstrous bite.

My kids have combined these two very different tastes during a few casual dinners at home where pepperoni pizza was involved.

This concoction is not something that they came up with on their own.

As with all strange things that they do these days, the world wide web has been their accomplice.

The chocolate hazelnut spread has become a staple on our dining room table along with parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, French dressing, and Sriracha sauce (we do love our condiments).

And only recently did Man-Farmer and I relent and try some on our pizza slice.

And there was a lovely sensation in my mouth when the spice of the tomato sauce and the salty zing of the pepperoni hit the sweet and nutty dash of the Nutella.

It was good.

Much better than we both expected.

Way better than that time we ate quinoa.

pizza

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Zoe has her own library card.

Both of my kids do.

We frequent the BIG public library regularly and it’s one of our favorite places to go.

But we live in the country.

According to our address anyway.

And we have to get our library cards at the SMALL library in the small town where Zoe goes to school.

But, we don’t normally check anything out there because it’s both small, therefore not full of the books we like to read, and staffed with rude librarians.

Every single time we have been in there we have not been greeted with smiles and witty banter, but instead with scowls and judgements.

The BIG library is the exact opposite of this small town library, but since they are in the same library system we are able to check out books at the BIG-full of good cheer library.

One of the first times we went to the SMALL library where are cards were granted to us, the librarian gruffly told me to make sure “that kid picks up every toy she gets out!”  Gigi was maybe 4 years old and was playing with some puppets and puzzles they had in a corner.

Zoe has started to scooch out of the selections available in the second floor children’s section of the BIG library and has ventured into the first floor Young Adult section.  But, her library card has restrictions on it because she’s a kid and so she can’t use her card to check out some of the books that she wants to read.  So, I have to do it with my card.  Since she’s an independent young gal, she wants to check her own books out herself.  So, she asked me to have them change her card restrictions.  I asked at the check out desk at the BIG library (after the librarian and I had finished chatting about the latest episode of the British Baking Show on PBS) and she said, “oh, you have to go to your issuing library to have them change that since they are the ones that set this card up.”

Damn.

Last week after Gigi’s tumbling class, which is in the little town where the SMALL library is, I said “let’s go change the restrictions on your library card.”

When I got to the front counter and told the librarian what I wanted to happen, she looked at me with a glazed look and it was almost as if I was asking her for round trip tickets on the next moon flight.

She did some tapping on her computer keyboard and asked a few times what Zoe’s age was.

“Twelve” I said.

“Hmmmm, we usually have restrictions for young adult books until the age of thirteen” she stated trying to issue some authority over the situation.

Then she got out a big book full of papers that I have NO IDEA what it was for and pretended to look for something important that she could use in her defense.  Then she went back to her computer, typed a bit more and said yet again “she’s only twelve though.”

I then responded with the boldest and most important thing that this conversation was going to end with…

“I’m her mother”

Zoe was at that point standing next to me and our resemblance is not one of child and babysitter, but of DNA that shouts MOM AND DAUGHTER.

She tried to say something else about “most young girls just come in here wanting their card levels changed so that they can check out Fifty Shades of Grey”

But when I threw out the whole “I’m her mother and I’m asking you to change it”, I heard a snicker coming from my right.

That’s when I saw an older woman who also was working at the branch reshelving the large print novels smiling at me.

She knew.

She knew the Mom Card trumps all others.

And I had thrown my Mom Card down onto the counter to win this hand.

She changed the restrictions on Zoe’s card.

And if my daughter wants to check out books at the BIG library that are in the general fiction section, the section where Hemingway, Tan, and Kingsolver reside, then it will be MY decision if she’s ready for these books.

Because I hold the winning hand…

I get to be Zoe’s mom.

zoeskye

 

 

 

 

The Japanese Flag

I had been looking for Grandpa for more than 5 minutes before I finally found him.

Grandma had asked me to “go outside and find your Grandfather to tell him lunch is ready.”  Being the obedient young Granddaughter that I was, I went outside to look for him.  I knew it would take a while.  He could be anywhere.

In the barn.
In his garden behind the house.
In the garden that was south of the barn where the sweet corn grew.
Mowing the path in the woods that ended behind my Great Uncle Howard’s house.

I smelled the cigarette smoke before I saw the man and found Grandpa behind the barn cutting up the rhubarb to bring up to the house for Grandma.
“Grandma says lunch is ready” I told him.

He was crouched over, wearing his tan work pants and an old brown factory work shirt that had his name sewn onto the front over the pocket that held his cigarettes and whatever else had made it’s way in there that day.  He looked up, peeking our from under the brim of his baseball hat and responded with a smile and a quick “yep” and went back to his task.

I ran back up to the house, with my job being done, so that I could get my lunch of potato chips, an RC Cola, and a cheese toastie sandwich.

Grandpa eventually made his way into the kitchen.

He ate his lunch while saying just a few words about the weather and then headed back outside.  He needed to weed the garden and to set up the radio with a new electrical cord.  The one that he kept on to scare the raccoons and deer away from his cabbages and tomatoes.

My Grandpa never said much.

grandpa and us

My Grandpa with his Grandkids, me and my brother.

He was more of a do-er.  Always keeping himself busy from the moment he woke up until the moment the sun started to go down.  Only then would he set himself up in his recliner to watch television with grandma and throw popcorn to his dog that sat in front of him, staring him down until he got his nightly snack quota.

My Grandpa worked until he was 86 years old.  He had retired from his factory job for the first time in 1978, but (since he was a do-er) he kept on working at another shop on the factory property, pretending to run the joint much to the chagrin of the regular employees, until his second retirement in 2003.

His given name was William Verneil, but the family called him Vern.

His work family called him Bill.

And one year he had the name Bern stitched onto his work shirts as a compromise of sorts.  The same work shirts that he wore whether he was at the factory or at the farm.

He would wear a nice button-up short sleeved shirt whenever he went out to dinner, though.  Grandma insisted on that, I think.

My Grandfather Vern passed away nine years ago.  He was 91 years old.  He smoked cigarettes all day long and had bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning.  He was as thin as a rail and in the summer, was as tanned as a leather strap.

He was also a World War II veteran.

A veteran who came home, and like many other men who managed to make it back to their homelands, came back with memories that they rarely shared with anyone.

And this story is about the memories that my Grandfather kept to himself, never divulging a second of his thoughts to anyone about what happened when he got the flag.

The flag, known as a Yosegaki Hinomaru, was his battlefield souvenir.  The owner of the flag was killed in battle while he, my Grandfather, was alive to see another day.

And another battle.

We don’t know exactly where my Grandpa fought during the war.  He entered the ranks as a 24 year old. He was with the 129th Infantry out of Illinois and they were sent to fight in the South Pacific and the Phillippines.   From what I can ascertain from my own research, he most probably fought at the Battle of Luzon.  Luzon was the largest Phillippines island that the Japanese had taken control of and the Allied forces, under the command of General MacArthur, were going to get it back.  Many battles were fought to get the Phillippine Islands out from under the control of the Japanese and since Grandpa never talked much about it, we may never know exactly.

I do know that he had to leave the area for a while.
He contracted malaria, but was sent back after he got treatment.
All I ever heard him really say about the war was “I got shot by a Jap in the leg” and we knew he had some shrapnel in that leg.

And he had the flag.

But, we never saw it removed from the bamboo case it was held in.

bamboo flag holder

He also brought home an artillery shell and a grenade.

Oh, the things you used to be able to stash in your carry on bag!

It wasn’t until many decades later, when he was living alone because Grandma had died, that my dad felt it was okay to remove some things from the house (the house that my family now lives in) and one of those things was the flag that came back from the war.

We would remove the flag from the bamboo holder and spread it out onto my parents’ dining room table.  Unable to decipher anything that’s written on it, but marveling at the beauty of it.  The foreignness of the characters written on it’s fluid, white surface.  The small, worn leather tabs on one side that signify the direction to fly it.

The Yosegaki Hinomaru is a Good Luck or Prayer Flag.

Given to a Japanese soldier during World War II from friends and family wishing their soldier a safe return home from battle.  It’s filled with the signatures and hopeful sayings of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, cousins and aunties, neighbors and friends.  All to give the soldier that they are sending off to fight a reason to come home safely.
Many flags also contain the name of the village that the soldier departed from.  Young men, some just boys, sent off to fight for their country.  Just as my Grandfather did for his country.

The soldier that had this particular Good Luck Flag did not come home.

He died in battle.

Or starved to death in the Philippines.

Far from home.

Where even his Prayer Flag couldn’t keep him safe.

And Vern picked up that bamboo tube.

Found the flag.

Put it around his waist.

A trophy from the battlefield.

He was still alive.

And he was coming home.

grandpa vern

World War II

 


 

My Grandmother, Dorothy, was married before she was married to my Grandfather.

Dorothy had married Harry.

Her hometown love.

And he went to fight in the war.

But, he didn’t come home.

This is another thing that we don’t know much about.

She didn’t talk about her life before Grandpa too much.

She did stay very close with her sister-in-law, Ida, from her first marriage.

These two ladies were almost like sisters.

And our family, as it grew through the years, did many things with her first family.

We made candy together at Christmas time, we had cookouts,  we shared many experiences full of laughter together.

I even went on a car trip out west with my Grandparents and Ida.  Just a 10 year old and three 60 year olds in a tan four-door sedan driving to New Mexico from Illinois during the Fall of 1981.  It’s a trip I still remember fondly.

When Harry didn’t come back from the war (I’m not even sure where he was fighting or how she came to know that he had died) Dorothy somehow carried on and eventually met someone new.

Someone new named Vern.

And they got married three years after the war ended.

They had one son.

And they had a fabulous life together.

grandmaandgrandpa

Dorothy and Vern

But, she always put flowers on the grave of Harry every Memorial Day.

I can’t imagine her sorrow the day she learned Harry was gone.

I carry on for Grandma and put a flower and a flag on his grave every year.

I’ve told my daughters who he is and that one day, it will be their job to remember Harry.

I’m not even sure if Harry himself came back from the war.

Many men didn’t.

Their graves are empty and for the Japanese, the Yosegaki Hinomaru holds extra significance.

When a family receives a Yosegaki Hinomaru, it’s as if that soldier-that man-that boy, has come home to rest.

My Grandfather Vern came home.

Lived a long and fulfilling life here in America.

Saw his two Grandchildren grow up and was fortunate enough to meet three of his Great Grandchildren before he died.

The flag, the souvenir that he brought back from the war…

it’s time for it to go home.


 

My dad alerted me last year about a segment that was to air on CBS Sunday Morning.

They were going to air a story about the Obon Society.

The Obon Society is run by Keiko and Rex Ziak.  They run the non-profit in Oregon state and accept Prayer Flags from World War II soldiers.  They research the writings on the flags that they receive and look for clues such as village names and family surnames.  If they can find who the flag belongs to, the flag is delivered back to the family in Japan.

A soldier is returned home.

My dad and I did discuss that we had the flag that Grandpa had brought back with him.  We discussed how Grandpa had never talked about the flag.  How we didn’t know where he was when got it.  How we knew that he would not have wanted us to send this flag back to Japan while he was still alive.  His spoils of war were his only.  We weren’t to question why he had it and what he should do with it.

But, we both knew that it needed to go back.

And the Obon Society seemed to be the way to go for us.

bamboo holder


I have a friend from high school, who currently lives in Texas, that lived in Japan for 3 years.  She has a good friend who lives in Japan who was willing to look at the flag through photos that I took.

She tried to decipher the writing and could make out a few names, but the script was an older one and she had trouble herself with some of the characters.

My brother came over last week and I showed him the CBS Sunday Morning segment and he also agreed that the flag needs to go home.

dadandtheflag

My dad, Bob, with the flag today.

We are hopeful that the volunteers with the Obon Society will have better luck reading the names on the flag.

We are hopeful that the flag still has family members alive to accept the flag.

Or a village, where the family lived, can accept it.

I am putting the flag in the mail this week.

In hopes that it can bring peace to someone.

In Japan, Obon is a festival that honors the spirits of ancestors.

We want the spirit of the soldier who was given the Yosegaki Hinomaru to return home.

To finally rest.

We want peace for his family and it will bring closure for our family.

Closure for a time in history that me, my brother, and my parents never saw. We merely live with the stories we never heard.  Ghosts from 70 years ago.  Trying to figure out what’s the right thing to do.

The flag doesn’t belong in Illinois in my kitchen anymore.

It needs to return home.

For Harry.

For Dorothy.

For Vern.

For peace that stretches across an ocean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAN…

Can you get poison ivy in your eyes by mowing over A LOT of poison ivy plants and the dust and dirt goes a’flyin’ around you and your coughing and spitting and getting shit on your face?

Cause that just happened to me.


Can we PLEASE stop making television shows featuring kids cooking?

KIDS BBQ CHAMPIONSHIP!
KIDS BAKING CHALLENGE!
KIDS VEGAN CASSEROLE CHALLENGE!
I made that last one up, but it may be in the works at some studio in crazy LA LA Land.

My kids won’t even put a poptart in the toaster most days.

Wait…Gigi does like to bake.  But she has a very hard time following recipes because
“I WANT TO DO IT MY WAY DAMN IT!”  hinders her from properly following a baking recipe and so we have to eat cookies with 88 pounds of sugar in them and we can actually feel our teeth melting out of our heads.

With that said, there’s no way in HELL they’ll l be creating their own baby back rib rub, marinating some chicken for 12 hours…my god, my oldest gets freaked out by the heat that comes out of the oven when I ask her to take the Ore-Ida fries out.

These TV  kids shows can’t be real kids, right?!

They are like some pod-people.  Or just the offspring of parents who really want their own cooking show, but they can’t get the TV execs to go with their ideas (or they are just really ugly and not TV material) and so they make their kids do it.

I don’t get it.  I don’t like it.

Where’s Julia Child?


Can you tweak your back playing Wii bowling and forever be impaired?

I like to do fancy leg lifts with my free leg when doing Wii bowling (or regular bowling at an alley, I’m not afraid to shine) and a few months ago…you read that right…I was doing fancy Wii bowling in my living room and later on could feel some pain on the left side of my lower back.

And it still hurts.

It hurts when I lay wrong in bed…I’m not even sure what that means…can you lay wrong?

What is the right way to lay and what could therefore be the wrong way to lay?

I dunno.

It hurts when I roll over in bed.

But only if I roll over wrong (?).

Yesterday I got up and the OTHER side of my back hurt.

COME ON!

I sat around most of the day with a heating pad on it and I must say that today, it feels fine.

Until I guess I lay wrong again.


Can someone please tell me how on earth I am supposed to live on this planet and thrive and become a better person and all that good stuff if some goofy old men in Washington DC can sit in a room and make decisions for the entire United States of Good Ol’ America without consulting with EVERYONE else that works with them?

Why do MEN always get to make decisions about women’s issues?

Why do people keep electing these men to office?

Why don’t women have more of a say so in what’s good for them?

It’s as if a reversal of the earth has taken place…you know when Superman had to save Lois Lane from dying and so he reversed time by spinning the planet Earth backwards?

Did this actually happen?

Because I feel like I’m living in the past.

When MEN can hole themselves up in a room and write a proposal that eliminates maternity care and pediatric visioncare and pap smears at Planned Parenthood from our healthcare policies…I feel like the country I live in has gone back to a time that women already fought through.

It’s a hard task to raise daughters in a land that doesn’t still fully respect them.

Yes, they can drive and vote and work and yet…they are still a minority.

Women are still not as powerful in this country as the men are.
There’s still not full equality.

As Pat Benatar once sang…”let’s put up our dukes, let’s get down to it”

Ladies, it’s round 2 3 4 5 6 for us.

Time to fight for our rights…again.

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