Sunday, March 29, 2009

contest extended

At the request of a reader, the guest blogger contest deadline has been extended to April 1. Yes, that means you may write some hilariously fantastic April Fool's post.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

you're fine

Have you heard it? There's a new expression that is unique to teens and 20-somethings. If I've gotten in someone's way or given them the wrong amount of money at the check-out ... something like that, I might say, "oh, I'm sorry."

And the young person quickly says, "oh, you're fine."

"Yes," I might think, "I AM fine, though you're much too young to determine whether or not I'm fine." Or I could take it as a condescending sort of comment, as in "you poor old woman: you can't see/count/understand, so I'll make you feel better by telling you you're fine."

But really. I don't think such things. In fact, being told I'm fine is rather comforting, like a verbal, sweet pat on the shoulder. And maybe it's good practice for being a poor old woman, or at least a grandma. I remember my mother saying she looked forward to growing old. Then she could do or say anything and others would accept her as just an eccentric old woman. (Being a young eccentric is harder to pull off.)

I for one think this "you're fine" trend is good news. It shows the young people can allow for mistakes, and we all make them.

And acknowledging imperfection is good as the young generation learns how to take care of us older people. For the boomers, that's very good news.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

are you writing?

This question is posed by my encourager friends who spur me on to keep writing.

The question today is, are YOU writing?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

guest blogger contest

Want to try your hand at blogging? Here's your chance! Write a blog post on any topic. The rules:

1. Post must be your own, original work. (that means you didn't borrow it from Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, The Delaware Gazette or anywhere else.)

2. Keep it clean - no profanity or vulgarity. Pretend I am your mother. (As is actually the case with roughly half my readers.)

3. Keep it a reasonable length and strive for good grammar. Misuse of "lay" and "lie" or "leave" and "let" will result in automatic disqualification from the contest.

4. You need not submit something you wrote recently. If you wrote something in first grade and you like it, submit that. However, I highly doubt you'd win the contest. I wrote an essay in first grade entitled: "My Foxy Life" and I wouldn't dare submit it anywhere.

5. E-mail your submission to me at by sometime Sunday, March 29.

6. Include a photo of yourself.

I won't keep the rights to your piece, but I will choose one winner to be published on this blog. That's your prize: submission here!

Please, someone get writing. The next couple of weeks are busy and I need some posts!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

the can can't

I read that First Lady Obama is planting a vegetable and herb garden on the South Lawn. Bravo, Michelle!

I like most vegetables; I even love many vegetables. FRESH vegetables. The other night we had fresh asparagus. Delicate, tender green shoots, steamed for just a couple of minutes. Buttered and salted, they are divine.

Then hubby and I started a vegetable discussion. We talked about what our mothers served us as kids. What were billed as vegetables, out of a can, should be outlawed.

The peas tasted like regurgitation.
Pickled beets were candidates for prison food.
And asparagus, perhaps the worst of all, gagged me every time.

What was it about the 1950's and 60's that caused mothers to embrace canned vegetables? They were - and are - ghastly, I tell you. They tasted like cans, not vegetables, and that couldn't be nutritious. If cost was a consideration, better to buy one asparagus spear per person than to force the canned variety on us. Or grow some real vegetables, for Pete's sake. For all our sakes.

I'll eat baked beans from a can. That's about it. I'm so glad I'm a grown-up now. No one makes me eat canned vegetables and I made it my policy as a mother never to force canned vegetables on my kids. Did I?

Do you have a nasty-vegetable memory?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

missing Ireland

It's St. Patrick's Day and I don't think I'll ever again meet this holiday in the same way as before I visited Ireland. I've been playing our Irish CDs all day. After our visit in September, I have a little love affair with the Emerald Isle.

For the past two days, the Today Show broadcast from Ireland. That was a treat for me: seeing some of the spots where we walked. And reminding me of those we missed and will see the next time.

There is a beauty in the hills and valleys and winding roads of Ireland. Riding the DART into Dublin, climbing the Hook lighthouse, hiking Glendalough, walking the streets of Greystones and feeling welcomed by the lovely Irish people are just a few reasons that Ireland "got" to me.

Most of all, remembering Ireland reminds me of how my daughter Katie left a little of her heart in Ireland, and that the rest of her heart aches to return.

Mine, too.

Monday, March 16, 2009

nothing to hide

I don't know why I dislike curtains so much. It's something like a kid's "why make the bed?" mentality: I'm going to sleep in it again tonight, so why make it this morning? We scurry around closing curtains at night only to scurry around opening them the next morning. We have some thin little cotton curtains in the living room which Bill dutifully closes at night. It mildly annoys me to have to open them in the morning. Why not just leave them open all the time? We rarely use that room.

Maybe I'm just not a very private person. The rooms on the back of our house have no window coverings whatsoever. So day and night, our neighbors can see us fixing dinner, eating, working at the computer and watching TV. I have nothing to hide so it's fine with me if the neighbors want to watch. The bedrooms and bathrooms are another story.

Some people say faith is a private thing. But God teaches us to be "salt and light" in the world. I haven't figured out how to sprinkle salt or shine God's light if I have the curtains of my life drawn shut. The world needs to see me and how I live.

When others catch sight of me, I hope they will see a fallen, imperfect person loving and following a perfect God. That's about it. Simple. Curtains open. Or better yet, no curtains at all.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl....let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happy 97th, Girl Scouts

Ninety-seven years ago today an eccentric southern woman named Juliette Low gathered some girls from her neighborhood and held the first Girl Scout meeting. (NO, that is NOT her in the's our troop in Mexico, 2006) Girl Scouting has come a long way, baby, from that first handful of spirited girls.

If you know me well, you know that I've been a card-carrying Girl Scout since the age of nine. Here's what I did - and didn't - like about Girl Scouts:

Did like:
- getting to wear my uniform for the first time, after the required 3 meetings.
- camping and more camping. On one October camp-out, I ate 18 apples in 2 days. I usually laughed so hard on those weekends that I peed my pants.
- summer resident camp. In those days, you went for two weeks or not at all. If you've never slept in a platform tent, you've missed a hugely cool life experience.I bawled when it was time to go home.
- seeing my mom act as crazy as the girls: she was my troop leader.
- being a troop leader myself. I've had the privilege of leading some amazing girls, including my daughter.
- co-leading with some fun women: Lisa and Donna to name two. I don't think our husbands could have tolerated our silliness on troop outings.
- MEXICO. Just ask Katie, Sam, Hannah, Lindsay, Emily or Lisa.

Didn't like:
- selling cookies door-to-door in deep snow and frigid temperatures.
- selling cookies at all.
- not finishing my "Horsewoman" badge because I failed the written test.
- jumping into the lake at Girl Scout camp in New England at 9:00 in the morning. It felt like I was going into cardiac arrest.

It's a new generation now and girls have a lot of other activities to occupy their time. But I believe Girl Scouting still offers something unique: girls can learn to run their own troop by making plans and decisions, give service to others, and gain an appreciation for all people and the world in which they live.

I loved those two weeks in a platform tent, campfires and starry nights. And especially the amazing girls and women who've crossed my path because of Girl Scouting.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

flier beware, part 2

A middle-aged woman running through an airport terminal must be a pitiful sight. I'm glad I didn't have to see myself as I sprinted through the Charlotte airport. It was 11:00 p.m. and I was hoping against hope that I could make the last flight to West Palm Beach.

I landed in C terminal and the flight was leaving from B terminal. I ran as fast and as safely as I could, considering I was in clogs.

Of course, the flight was gone. Long gone. I dropped into a chair, puffing and wheezing from my mini-marathon. The cool thing is that my son and daughter-in-love, Dan and Jenny live in Charlotte. Even though it was past their bedtime, they graciously drove to the airport to fetch me and I spent the night at their house.

They have a new dog, Bauer, who at first acted like he was going to have me for a midnight snack, but I was able to convince him otherwise and all was good.

As I drifted off to sleep, I prayed that I'd get on the morning flight, even though I was standby status....

... daughter-in-love Jenny and dog-in-love (??) Bauer.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

flier beware, part 1

Last week I flew to Florida for a funeral. I learned that it's important to check the weather, not only at your departure city, but also the city where your flight originates. The plan: catch a US Air flight from Columbus to Charlotte and connect onto another flight to West Palm Beach, Florida.

Oh, yeah. I checked the US Air website right up until we left for the airport. All flights were showing on time. But how clueless could I be? A late winter storm had dumped several inches of snow across the Carolinas before it picked up steam and headed up the east coast. Therein was the foreboding of what was to come.

Arriving at my gate, I got a sinking feeling. First, the gate was crowded, and gates at Port Columbus airport are almost never crowded.

Second, all three flights posted were "delayed." The saintly US Air women working the gate, I am certain, would have flown the planes themselves if they could. They stood at their post for hours, consoling passengers, rebooking them and giving us the grim updates of our delayed flights.

As each update was announced, it was apparent that many of us were going nowhere anytime soon. Flights to and from D.C., Baltimore, and New York were all messed up due to weather delays. Further, a plane at the gate doesn't mean it'll leave the ground if the flight crew assigned to it hasn't arrived on other flights. What they had in Port Columbus, and many other airports, was a mess. A real big mess.

But what I had was an ideal opportunity to study people and their responses to the whole mess.

I opted not to stand in line at the counter right away. What was the point? My 5:45 p.m. flight was delayed indefinitely and I figured I may as well sit on my seat, eat my bag supper and relax.

The people around me had just come off a church youth leadership conference and they were riding a wave of enthusiasm and bursting with ideas for their youth programs. This alone raised my spirits during the long wait.

About two hours past my scheduled flight time, it was announced that they "couldn't find" our flight crew. This puzzled me, so I decided to get in line and learn my options. I figured I could have Bill come pick me up, go home and start over in the morning. Or, I could take a chance on my flight to Charlotte and hope to get a later connection to West Palm Beach.

As I neared the front of the line, things got interesting. A man behind me said, "it would help if those employees could take less than 45 minutes per passenger." Come on, buddy. Gross exaggeration. Then the US Air ladies were told they could put some Wash. D.C. - bound passengers on another flight. I am not kidding, this was their announcement: "if you were on flight 632 to Dulles and would like to get on flight 1198 to Reagan AND didn't check any baggage, please come forward."

A few minutes later, same announcement, only this time they ended with, "and if you checked baggage, come describe it to us and we'll try to find it to put on the flight with you."

I felt like I was experiencing the dawn of aviation, all rules thrown out the window.

Next, a family of three was told there was only room for two of them on the flight. A daughter, about 17 years old, burst into tears. Right there in front of the US Air ladies and about 100 other passengers. Wow, dramatic!

At 9:30 p.m., the stars aligned. My flight had a plane AND a crew and it was time to board. It was pretty clear that my four-hour-late flight would cause me to miss the last flight of the day from Charlotte to West Palm Beach. But I figured the chance might be good that flights out of Charlotte were delayed, too, so I hopped on the plane to Charlotte.

Next: Charlotte!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

happy birthday, sis!

I remember the day my sister was born: March 1, 1961. I was a six-year-old with two bothersome brothers and a little sister was desperately needed.

So my dad's call from the hospital brought utter joy: a girl named Anne! Though I wasn't fully aware at the time, my sister had a scary start to life and we were blessed to have her.

Anne became my little doll, my very own baby. I played with her, helped with her feeding and folded mountains of cloth diapers with our mom.

She was special, my only sister, although sometimes I forgot and treated her like dirt. We shared some fun times: playing in the snow in Connecticut and playing "flip and up-go" on the living room floor (a secret, stupid game). And always, we were a united front against our brothers.

In recent years we've shared our lives over the phone. We don't see each other nearly enough: we let time, distance and our children, who differ in age stand in the way.

But today I honor you, Anne. You are what no one else can be: my one and only sister in the whole world. We share a past as no one else can. Be blessed and be celebrated this day! I love you.