Thursday, September 27, 2012

the writing life

Life continues to keep me busy, busy. This week I wrote an article for Heart of Ohio magazine, a neat little publication whose editor, Diana Coon, I got to know. She asked if I'd like to write for each of their six issues this year, I said yes, and, well, it's kept me on my writing toes.

So click on the link, go to back issues - and current issue - and you can read my stuff. Better yet, subscribe! The current issue's article is on biking in Ohio, and lots more by other writers.

"See" ya next week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

the fair

Whoops. Fair week slid right by. It was all last week, practically in our back yard, so close that we can hear the cows and horses starting their day. We hear the harness racing announcers for the daily races and feel the rumble of the demolition derby not a mile away. And when the wind blows just right, we get whiffs of some fine cuisine. Fair week is the BIG deal here in Delaware every September.

Bill worked his usual shift for Kiwanis Club, shuttling people around on a golf cart. That was Monday, the same day I took my little friend, Jack, on our annual visit to the fair. He wanted to see PIGS, gobbled up his french fries, and enjoyed a few rides. Jack's my buddy every year!

Here he is, taking a break in the goat barn. What a cutie.

Tuesday was senior citizen day, so we got in for $2 each. Sweet! I pretended to be interested in all of the fair, but mostly I wanted another cheeseburger at the Buckeye Valley food barn. This is a school district to the north, and they run a huge food concession every year during fair week. Students, parents and staff quickly serve up tons of burgers, fries, chicken and noodles, chili and more.

Bill and I also visited some animal barns ... who can resist this brown-eyed beauty?

Also on display is farm machinery ... it's a county fair, after all. You'll find everything from antique tractors to state-of-the-art bajillion-dollar combines. Wow!

The Ohio state fair is overwhelmingly big for me. But our county fair is just right - love it!
Now to get my granddaughters here for fair week some year.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Happy birthday to my mother-in-love, born 96 years ago today!
Elizabeth has always shown unwavering love, support and faith to all of us.
She probably stays up later than anyone
on the floor where she lives, watching her beloved Cleveland Indians.
She hates salad, resists vegetables and loves ice cream.
Though she's slowing down physically,
Elizabeth is still full of spunk and wit.
Happy birthday to an amazing lady!

(This is my favorite photo of her, taken by my daughter Katie a few years ago.)

Remember ... blog name will change tomorrow to

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

name change coming

This Friday, September 21, I will be changing my blog address to
I hope it all works smoothly, but wanted to give you the heads up. If you have me as a favorite, you might want to change the address from halfdozn. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

journey through journals

What better way to preserve a person's life than a journal? Like hand-written letters, a journal puts in writing a person's heart and soul and mind. To be a writer, I am, admittedly, terribly disorganized. And sporadic, especially when it comes to journaling.

But I absolutely cannot resist journals. I gravitate to the journal shelf at bookstores, checking each one by running my fingers over the covers and thumbing their pages. People gift them to me. Lots of them. And just last week, I took one from Katie that was destined for the yard sale. It's red and white and adorable, with a magnetized flap. I'm formulating a plan for it. I'll probalby print off a different quote, or favorite scripture, and glue it over the original: "Let the sun shine on me and make me feel special." I know I can come up with something more fitting than that.

Anyway, here's my shelf full of journals. I'm envious of those who journal in chronological order, beginning a new journal every year. I'm also in awe of writers who display a neat line of journals, standing on a shelf in a literary time line. Some even have the foresight to settle on one style and use it year after year.

The problem seems to come when - as with this new red and white journal - I begin writing in something that strikes me as "just right." Many factors come into play. Sometimes I need a notebook-sized journal to balance on my lap while at the lake. When traveling, I need a compact journal to tuck in my bag. And when I'm just running around town I really need a very small, lightweight journal to jot down any fleeting thoughts or writing ideas.

I even kept a journal for each of my four children. I began each one before they were even born. Baby books demanded far too many details, so I settled on simple journals in which I recorded each child's daily life, first words, and milestones. It's something I wish my mother had done for me.

I started a fun journal project with Katie when she was about eleven. I wrote to her in a journal, and she wrote back to me. We'd place it on each other's pillows when we'd written an entry. It's a fascinating peek into her girlhood and our relationship.

I'm considering a big project: combining my journals into sequential order. This shakes me to the core, the thought of ripping pages from journals and creating a patchwork quilt of sorts. And it would probably mean I'd toss out half-used journals.

Do you journal, and how do you make it work?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pilates and my knees

Pilates. Say it "puh - LAH - tees." Not knowing exactly what would go down, I took a chance on a Pilates class this week at the Y with my friend Lisa. Most memorable was ... my knees. More on that later.

I liked it. If I can make it through any exercise class at all, I rate it by whether or not I can get out of bed the next day. And really, though I felt some sore muscles in my abdomen and back, it wasn't too bad. Not a "yow, I can't move!" kind of thing. A real plus.

The instructor, Elizabeth, was toned, flexible and young. Of course. She scanned the room of mostly other young women, then saw Lisa and me. "I'll modify some of this," she assured us. Translation: "These older ladies will never keep up, and I don't want them hurt." We unrolled our mats and sat down on "our sitter bones" and then laid down, following Elizabeth's relaxing stretching movements. She played nice, calming music and it was really very pleasant.

Not to be fooled, I knew the harder stuff was coming. "Find your table," Elizabeth directed. I had to glance over to see what this meant. Oh, get in a position like a dog, on hands and knees. Got it. Over the next 45 minutes she put us through our paces, working abs, arms and thighs and my flabby belly. About ten minutes in, a strapping young man came in with his mat and joined us. He placed his mat a little bit into my personal space. Odd. And when we began doing arm circles, he and I nearly touched fingertips. That boy had a huge wing span!

I was pretty proud of myself toward the end when Elizabeth had us lie on our backs and thrust our legs straight up in the air, butts off the ground. I used to perform this trick all the time as a kid, and I can still do it! Odd thing was, when I looked at my knees, they'd aged at least 20 years. Gravity did its work and pulled all that skin around my knees down into wrinkly blobs. Wow, positively horrifying.

Nevertheless, Pilates might be my thing. It's relaxing yet invigorating and I'm sure it's helping my core strength.( I think I know what that is.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

VRBO - ing

Good grief, I'm a VRBO maniac! In case you're unaware, VRBO, Vacation Rentals By Owner, is an amazing site where you can find rental homes anywhere. I mean, ANYWHERE. It should be named Anywhere Rentals By Owner. Ha ha!

So. You go to and begin. Choose a state. Or country, I believe. I haven't gone that far yet. Then you designate an area of the state you'd like to visit. Click, and presto! Up comes dozens of rental homes, cabins, and cottages with photos and prices. Also included are details of the property: bedrooms and baths and all the amenities such as hot tubs, fireplaces, canoes and grills. Some properties spell it out all out. Others leave much to the imagination. As in, only a view out the living room is shown. If there are no kitchen photos, that's a red flag to me!

As per usual, I am stepping gingerly into this whole rental thing. But now that Thanksgiving is creeping closer, I'm getting serious. I have a clipboard with my favorite properties, prices and availability. Of course we indecisive Hallers must first choose a date, if not Thanksgiving itself. Which, if you know anything about rentals, makes a big difference in price.

One son has a new job. Our daughter is probably about to move and doesn't yet know her job. All have busy lives and we all live in 4 different states separated by hundreds of miles. It's looking like we'll settle on a few days in November in the Blue Ridge Highlands of southern Virginia. And hope it doesn't snow, because none of us has 4-wheel drive.

The details, oh, the details! But I cannot wait. All my chickies, the big and the small, together in one coop!

Have any of you used VRBO?

Friday, September 7, 2012

do and don't

Sorry to be out of touch.
Life's been weirdly crazy.
Tonight I share things I do like,
and things I don't.
They may - or may not - reflect what's going on in my life right now.

I do love my children and grandchildren.
I don't like that they live far away.
I do like that I can go visit them,
but I don't like having to.
I don't like the comment, "you have another place to visit!"
I didn't want another place to visit.

I don't like curfews, and didn't impose them on my children.
I do like to see parents who give their children choices,
like what outfit to put on or how much cereal to eat.
I like relaxed mothers who can laugh with their children
and not worry about unmade beds.

I really, really like when a friend just listens to me.
I don't like when people assume they know my thoughts or my heart.

I like being alone.
I think I'm an extroverted introvert.

I like when people think before they speak.
I don't like when people talk a lot but say very little.

I don't like making decisions. I'm very bad at it.
When I finally make a decision, I'm usually satisfied with it,
so maybe it's ok to take a long time deciding.

I don't like being crabby toward my husband, or anyone.
So I pray for peace and patience and God's power to be less crabby.

I used to like yard sales, but now I don't.
I don't like clutter, so this weekend I'm having a sale with Katie
to clear out some stuff. Stuff makes me crazy.
And in the end, when I'm 85, I will need very little stuff.
So I'm practicing for that time.
Good night!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

happy birthday, Mom

(This post is borrowed from one year ago.)

Hey, Mom. Today you would have been 87 years old. It's hard to imagine you that old, because when you left us, you were younger than I am now.

I still miss you. Not a day has gone by in the past 33 years that you haven't come to my mind. How I would love to call you (or email!) and share something about the kids. You would be so proud of David, Dan, Mark and Katie, and Jenny and Jill, too. You would have built tender relationships with them. You were such a warm and relational person.

You always looked forward to grandchildren and now I know why, with three of my own. You somehow knew the precious love they would bring to a grandmother's heart. You'd be a great-grandmother now to three little girls! Not sure you even thought ahead that far. But I am sure of one thing.

Through the short 24 years we had, you taught me to laugh at myself, not others. To listen to my children. To love my husband. To care for neighbors and love the unlovable. To try new things. That life is short and a few dirty dishes or dusty shelves mean a lot less than time spent with my children. And in the end, if our time on earth is shorter than we hoped, to have no regrets in how we lived.

Thank you for all you taught me. I love you, Mom. Thanks for loving me.