Sunday, March 31, 2013

More Easter Musings

Sunrise service starts before the sunrise. I arrived at the country church under an almost full moon bright behind the light fog. Before the door of the church is even opened, the fragrance of lilies sneaks out. I shake all the ministers hands.
I think back forty years ago. My first sunrise service, I rode out to this very church with my pastor, who is also my neighbor and his family. A cold morning before the sun with snow on the ground. A winter coat covers the spring dress. Sandals again in snow, like a year before for my brother's wedding. We didn't know it then, but this was Reverend Hatch's last Easter. He would die in June.
I recognized many faces today or backs of heads. I think my parents didn't have gray hair then. Many people didn't have gray hair then. I'm pleased the church is filled. I loved singing the hymns to the organ from a hymnal. Even the other churches I have attended have the words projected onto a screen, but not this smaller church. I'm glad I remembered the words, as keeping my head down with my reading glasses on gave me a bit of a headache.
I drove to Haywood Cemetery at the end of my old street. I pass two people walking their dogs in the gray morning light. At the family graves, I look them over. I see the lighter grass over the coffins. I can almost see them rising from the ground at the rapture. I think, not too long. This is what makes our religion so different. We don't follow a man, but a Man who rose from the dead. If Jesus had not risen, our faith would be useless, we would be but a sad people.
Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed. We are Easter people.

Whimsical Musings

I'm being a little whimsical this morning as I think how I serve a God of the living, not the dead. My parents had a new great grandson born this week. I attended sunrise service in West Middlesex this morning, being told I look like my mother by an old friend, as I was surrounded by living people from my childhood.
I know God forms babies in the womb, Psalm 139 reminds us of this. As much as we love them, babies are not angels from Heaven, unless you think of angels as messengers, then I may concede the point. But I was thinking this morning, what if God does ask those who have gone ahead, "OK, your granddaughter is going to have a baby, folks. What is one quality you would like them to have? One character trait? One thing from you."
The grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents have an audience with the Father. Of course, they would not want any bad traits passed on. Maybe why Owen didn't get my dad's red wavy hair, but otherwise looks so much like him. Maybe Jeremiah will? Dad, like most of us, didn't really like his hair, although Mom adored it. She had poker straight hair and she would not pass that along, I think, if she had a choice. But her color, we would all envy. Dad's red hair prompted the Italians, when he was in Italy in WWII, called him "Russo."
Well, maybe we don't choose our hair to pass on or not pass on. That may be a given. Although, maybe Grandpa Evans, said about Mary Ellen, "Give her that dark Welsh hair like my sisters, oh and throw in a singing voice, too, if that's not too much." Grandpa Lyon may have asked for the dark thick hair, too.
Grandma Lyon with Mary Ellen may have asked for her to be strong, which can be stubbornness as a child.
Grandma Evans may have asked for Alice to have China blue eyes and big, as well.
Maybe aunts and uncles get in on this wish list. "Well, I remember Jean had a giving heart. She always tried to keep me in new clothes or buy me dolls," Aunt June may ask for generosity.
God takes all the requests and knits together what He knows is best for each child, lovingly, knowing what that child will have to face in his life or hers. Or it's just genetics, personality, nature and nurture. Nah.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Resurrection Eve  Another Keith Green song that is somewhat simple yet bouncy. I keep singing it in my head. In one verse he wonders where the bad feelings go. I enjoyed the sunshine on the way home from my walk as we strolled down Cohassett. No, I do not wonder where the bad feelings go, I'm only glad they are gone!
From Keith Green to another reference, C. S. Lewis' quote from Chronicles of Narnia, "always winter and never Christmas," describe my life recently. But yes, as suddenly as the snow melts in Narnia, my depression is lifting. I'm slowly weaning off the Zoloft. Unlike, Keith, I do not care or question where they disappeared.
On Resurrection Sunday eve, as eggs wait to be colored, I rejoice long winter is over.

Are You Ready?

I have  been writing too much on face book and I really don't want to post on the blog about the same sex marriage debate. I made the point that Jesus predicted when we stood for Him and the Bible, we would be hated. I am not surprised at the disdain aimed at me because I stand for the only way marriage is to be, one man and one woman. The opposition wants to hammer Christians down. I'm afraid it will effect our freedom, only because they have equated it with civil rights. Silence is what the gay agenda wants and there is little respect for differing ideas. I am sad at how America loses her freedoms.
Then I am buoyed by reports in Detroit, Michigan, Hershey, PA and Burlington, MA of God moving. They all report it is different, stronger, more far reaching than before. I was almost to the point of tears. Four ladies have prayed almost every Monday night for revival in our church, the Valley's churches and our land. We humbly pray. We love our church and our country. We want a move of God.
I feel we are praying in God's will. Over and over again, I read in the Bible, He doesn't want any to perish. Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 33:11. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9.
Those verses span the Old and New Testaments, so for those who say the God of the Old Testament is different than in the New Testament are wrong. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8. God is patient. He gave Noah one hundred fifty years to evangelize while he built the ark. People obviously didn't listen, because only he and his family were saved. I can't even imagine the sorrow in Noah's heart.
I also think of Paul, who would have given up his salvation if his Jewish brothers could be saved. A person has to make that decision on his own. We can't write in their vote. We can't change them. But we pray for the Holy Spirit to move. We pray our words, filled with love, are from God. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would give us words when we are dragged into court or have to give a testimony.
I don't want to be one of those perceived to be a "Zap 'em, God" persons. I do love people. I know I can't argue anyone into Heaven. I also feel I need to remain true to the Bible, because I do love people. I encourage other Christians. I hope a grain of truth will help.
I know the love of people is why I feel so passionate on many subjects. I desire all to follow Jesus and the Bible. I suppose I get most disturbed by Christians compromising and not just on the gay agenda. There is abortion and divorce in the Church that are also subjects close to my heart. I am seeing more and more children affected by divorce in the Church. They're with Daddy one Sunday and Mommy the next. And sometimes Mommy has gone through a few boyfriends in less than a year. That is very damaging to the children, I think.
We need commitment to God, first, then our spouses and our families. It is also easy for church goers to flit from one church to the other. The Bible talked about this, too: For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3.
So much does not surprise me as I keep reading the Bible. I am amazed at how true it is as I observe the world today. I cannot emphasize enough, how Christ followers need to be in the Word. And in prayer. Put on the armor of God. We are in a battle, but souls are waiting to know Jesus, they just don't know it, yet. Get ready, fellow Christians to introduce them to Jesus. The Holy Spirit will bring them to you.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

From My Journal in 1979

At almost eighteen, in my senior year, I took a trip to my sister's in California at Easter time. This is my entry from my journal of a church service that touches my heart, still.
April 12, 1979
I have to interrupt my first story to share the most beautiful experience that happened to me tonight. Today is Thursday, but not any Thursday. It is the Thursday in holy week just before Good Friday and Easter. On this night many years ago, Jesus ate His last supper while He was living. on earth. He was celebrating the Jewish holiday of the old covenant. In this act, He began the new covenant. He broke the bread, as His body would be broken and gave the wine as His blood would be shed. Ever since this occasion, Christians have remembered the suffering of Christ in this communion.
Tonight was a celebration of communion.
I entered the Ridgecrest Covenant United Presbyterian Church, a fairly modern building. Greeting me were very informal ushers. I chatted awhile with them and then made my presence in the sanctuary. A young girl sat on the floor in a black turtle neck shirt and ragged jeans. No shoes were on her feet. Her sun bleached hair barely touched her shoulders. She was intently strumming a guitar. Only a few people had gathered and I sat in the second and last row.
I said a prayer of thanks to be in the Lord's house. As I finished my thanksgiving, I looked to the altar. Two loaves of homemade bread waited to be broken. Three pitchers, very sleek, of grape juice also were ready for the silver cup. Palms adorned the pulpit from the past Sunday. A peace filled my heart and I was prepared for the service.
While I was like the supplements on the altar, a crippled woman hobbled in. I asked her to sit by me and she did.
The pastor entered in his flowing black robe and the purple scarf of Lent. He was a tall man and middle age; a calm smile of assurance spread on his face.
He preached on the last days of Jesus' life, the holy week up till Thursday. He told of His teachings and His services to the people He loved. How Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Jesus could be the servant to His disciples by washing their feet, are we greater than Jesus? We are to serve and minister.
The first song was the old Christian favorite, Amazing Grace. The truest song of any conversion. After the pastor told of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, we sang Father, Good and Kind, a most befitting hymn. As we prepared for the actual communion, we joined together in As I Survey the Cross, a song I love dearly. 
The pastor invited us to the communion table, encouraging us to be ruling elders tonight. (in the Presbyterian church, the elected or ruling elders serve communion to the congregation) Our crowd was small prompting intimacy as we could serve each other.
As an acting elder, I served the bread and wine to the crippled lady. People served me, too, and it was so beautiful and close.
The loaves were actually broken and we drank hearty shares of grape juice. I imagine it was much like the Last Supper. The Christian fellowship was there and love poured from my heart. 
As Christians, we need the fellowship of other Christians and we need to be reminded of the actual broken body and shed blood of our Lord and Savior. We need simplicity and a constant communion with our God. One to one, yet sharing. We must not forget the Way, the Truth and the Life. We are part of Jesus and He lives through us in ministering to the world.

Engage in today in communion with your God. Remember the roots and the sacrifice of Jesus.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review

I have briefly mentioned this book, Out of a Far Country, by Christopher and Angela Yuan, before. I heard them again on the radio this morning. I love most about the telling of their story is the honesty. Chris, the son, brutally tells how pleasurable the drug and homosexual scene was. Angela, the mother, tells how at first the shame of a son not performing to expectations, until she turned to Jesus.
It is a story of two prodigals, two redemption stories. How a mother needed to pray the hardest prayer for her son, who literally slammed the door in his parents' faces, not to change him, but just that he would find peace in Jesus. She speaks on the radio with her Chinese accent. His voice is that of the modern American raised son of Chinese immigrant parents living the American dream. "Tiger Mom" comes to mind. Even Joy Luck Club images surface, but about son and mother, instead of daughters.
Chris tells how his former life felt happy. He did search for that true love, but as he said, men left to their own devices, do not think of exclusivity. He still longed for that faithful lover, who only wanted him. He loved the power and popularity that selling drugs buoyed him. Being the product of meticulous business parents, he kept accurate records that surprised the police when he was busted.
"Why would you keep records," they asked incredulously, "for the IRS?"
Chris sheepishly lowered his head, "It was the way I was raised."
The irony is "forget all the other lessons he was taught." Keep meticulous records.
For mothers, Angela's story, strikes at the heart. We love our children fiercely. We want them to be happy, accept them and for them to accept us. Chris could not accept his mother and then his father, before and after they came to faith in Jesus. He wanted them for what they could do for him, keep him in dental school, three months from graduation- they didn't even try, as he spent all his time traveling and selling drugs in the gay lifestyle, failing school. Sure that was hard and the old parents, before Christ, would have done everything they could to keep him successful, but at this point, they knew he needed Jesus. But this wasn't the lowest point,yet, in their journey.
Angela fasted every Monday for her son. When he totally rejected them on their visit to Atlanta to see him, she returned to her home at a crossroads. Would she give up on him? Or pray the boldest prayer a mother can pray for a child? She only wanted to know for an hour in her life, that Chris was following Christ. She prayed that God would do whatever it took for that to happen. She was led then, to fast, drinking only fruit juices for thirty nine days. And that prayer seemed answered with an arrest and prison for her son.
The remarkable journey of being changed, transformed by Jesus from two vastly different people, but both in need of Christ's love The honesty broke my heart, as well as opened my eyes. This story was an answer to my question a few years ago to God to show me how He felt about this whole homosexuality issue. Chris's story and his feelings on obedience revealed what God calls all of us to in the Bible.
I recommend this book for mothers struggling with rebellious children. I also believe reading their story helps in the incredible journey we are all called to when we follow Christ.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Another Celebration

Six hundred posts on my blog. I have done this for over two years. I truly enjoy what I do. I wonder how to celebrate as I look at the cat watching the heavy wet snow falling on the all ready thick white covering.
I chuckle at the jokes wanting to do harm to a little rodent in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. As Pastor Ken stated yesterday, humans make up this story, then get mad when the little guy lies to us. We live in a northern climate and it has done this for years. At least, we're not flooding like a hundred years ago as I read in the Sharon Herald and Youngstown Vindicator. Those dams were not built for our recreation, although that is a wonderful benefit, too. and
So, we wait for Easter with snow that would be welcomed in December. I'm so glad though we have no flooding, no blizzard, like in 1993 or negative twenty two degrees weather like that year and six years ago in April. I do wish people would be grateful or move!
Psalm 106 today reminds me not to grumble in my tent. I started to truly live that as my New Year's resolution. Every morning, I write for my To-do list: Praise God! Don't Worry! See Beyond! I have noticed my depression lifting. I have clearer thinking and wonder why I couldn't do simple things before. It is like getting over the stomach flu. For a day, one may not want to eat too much, but soon, the old habits return of enjoying food and not worrying about how this will sit on one's stomach. Depression comes to that point, we hope, where new habits bring joy to life again. Don't go back to worrying, grumbling and hopelessness. Celebrate, even a snowy start to spring.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Little Survey

I made a few changes to the format of my blog. Scroll down to the end of the page if you would like to get an e-mail every time I post. I also placed the ads at the top on the left.
Let me know what you think. I've been doing this for two years and this month I added the google plus and changed the layout a bit. If you have any ideas or know of any ways I can improve the look of the blog, let alone the content, I really am receptive to ideas. Hope to hear from you!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Simple Joys of Newlyweds

One Saturday morning after dropping Mary Ellen off at the school and stopping at the credit union, I returned home via State Street. I passed Aldi's. A young adult Amish man is tying up his horse and buggy. The wife, in her long cape and black bonnet, watches. Even from the distance, I can sense they are married.
I could palpate the closeness. She waited for him, instead of rushing to get into the store. I imagine they are newlyweds.
The old tradition in Ohio was the Amish married in late October and the month of November. My friends told me, now, there are just too many young people getting married that the weddings run from May well into the winter. They marry on Tuesdays or Thursdays.
I wonder if the New Wilmington Amish have continued to only marry after the harvest. I think this couple must have married only a few months prior. Or they may have been married longer. I can tell they are young. I know in any culture, at least for most, the joy of doing things together as a couple starts a marriage. I glimpse at this Amish couple with their brown horse and orange brown buggy, waiting to shop together at Aldi's. They are not rushed. No one is watching children. No outside job demands their attention. They have a Saturday going to town day together. I remember fondly our first going to town Saturdays in the early months of our marriage. I didn't work at first because we weren't sure if David would be transferred after completing sub school. Monday through Friday, he sat in sub school on the base in New London, Connecticut. I maintained our apartment and studied for state boards. Saturday, we shopped and explored this area. I cherish those times. Did it seem it could get better?
As kids come and more responsibilities with seemingly less time, we tended to divide and conquer. We lost pleasure in doing the routine errands, chores and housekeeping together. I look at the Amish couple and think we all need to keep our life simple as newlyweds.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Waiting for May

I'm in one of those places where I don't know what to do or eat or drink to feel better. My head feels a little hazy. My body is not so much on fire, but a slow burn, as if I just came in from the cold. I tried the nap, and still feel irritated.
I'm sure I'm tired. Adjusting to a new schedule and standing more at my new job. Stress, in a good way, learning a new routine, which is never really the case with health care.
The cold weather and continued snow flurries speeding past my window mock the later sunset. The wind is hard and bitter. I don't want to be out in it. My dog's black blanket becomes spotted white  from being outside.
Spring lingers, even though the calender declares it is here. People complain, but really this is always typical in western Pennsylvania. My mother always thought the neighbors returned too early from Florida at the beginning of April. She would have waited till May. Ah, May. I'm waiting for May.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Nightmare I Left Behind

Grandma Evans loved dreams, believed in dreams, had a book on symbolism in dreams. I'm not sure I go that far, but I do try to listen sometimes to dreams, wondering what is the message spoken to me during the night.
One time when I wanted to quit a job because of  my mother needing more of my time, as well as the girls being young, the words for a resignation letter were written before my eyes in a dream. I believed they pointed me in how to graciously leave that job to spend time with my family. I had agonized on how to leave since I did want to stay, but knew I had to move on.
Last night as I was to start my new avenue of health care in long term care nursing, I had more or less a nightmare. I started out with no car or shoes. Now, as dreams don't make sense, I had walked close to forty miles to the north western Trumbull County area of my old territory. I even saw a patient and I had my equipment, lap top and nursing bag. The next visit, another nurse showed up as I was finishing. I asked her if I could ride with her as they had sent both of us in this far off territory. I also had three to see close to the Pennsylvania border. I accompanied her to her patient's home and she drove me farther to my next visit.
Another funny thing about dreams is people can change in them. The nurse driving the car is not a nurse, but someone I graduated from high school and not Ginny. The weather in my dream is a mid March day, bright higher sun, but still barren landscape and cold. We are in farmers' homes, plain, but full of people. The nurse, who is not a nurse, but my school mate, drives a white four door sedan, on a long route to my third visit. I don't even finish my notes, because we are so far from the nursing office and we need to get back. The car had been parked on a slope over looking a large farm pond, the car rolled into that pond, covered by black muddy water. We are stuck in Portage County or somewhere on 519(no 519 that I know of, but it was in my dream). We call triple A and are left waiting. I think of the last three patients I'm supposed to see on my way home and how we are going to put the time and mileage in the computer.
What does this mean? I don't know. Just made me glad for now, I'm not wandering about without a car or shoes. One of the farmers gave me a pair of wooden shoes to go with my denim dress. I hadn't worn dresses for work since I worked at Medi on Sundays. I haven't worn a dress since summer.
I can understand why Grandma kept that dream book by her bedside. Dreams seem real, pregnant with meaning. Do you think the answer may be in that book? I think I have said good-bye to home health and am not looking back.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

For the Church, Only

Nothing is popping into my head or landing in my lap this morning. I read about all the writing, posting, blogging, publishing and know deep down, I need to write. I sit here and don't know what to write. I have one idea, but I'm not feeling controversial today. Should I be? Am I too afraid the fingers will point at me? Or seem they should? Would it be vulnerable?
Maybe then I should address it. Do we need to hear it? Can I do it justice? Or will I sound judgmental?
This is for the Church, so if you are not of the Church, read it as a bystander. I pray you would become a follower of Jesus. We are an imperfect bunch. Our righteousness is in Christ, not in our works. But we are to be known for our love.
I have felt this for a while. There is sin in the camp. People are hiding sin or excusing it. They reason, "God really didn't mean that. That's so old testament. He wants me to be happy."
OK, what about your kids? To those who are tearing apart your marriages, jumping from one relationship to another. Those who are putting their jobs, money and careers, first. The gossip that kills with each poisoned word spoken. Are these the lessons we want passed down to our children or to other children in the Church? We must watch our words and attitudes. Who is first in your life?
Yes, the fingers point back to me. As preachers may say, "I have to preach to myself first."
This morning in the Vindicator, this article made the first page  
I hope you take time to read it as well. Do not dismiss it because you are not of that culture.  All morning, I have been reading about repenting, living holy lives. We, as Christians, need to step up to bat. We need to abide in and take nourishment from the Vine, as branches or we are just lush, fruitless leaves rustling in the breeze. And we will be pruned to produce good fruit.
I pray for the Church to confess the sin in the house. Weeping may last for the night, as repentance rips open the doors of heaven, but joy will come in the morning. Let us be honest with ourselves and God. Read your Bible with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Grace is free, but not cheap.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Last Performance

Yesterday afternoon, the seniors sang in their last musical on the Hickory High School stage.  A pleasure of relaxing in their songs filled the stage. At the matinee, not so tired, they seemed more intimate with the audience. The cast performed this many times, they probably sing it in their sleep. I know I wake to the songs, after three performances, anticipating the last one.
I'm prepared with my Kleenex. I don't start crying too early, like I thought I might. Carly, who plays the Baker's wife with her adorable innocence that I didn't see in former productions of Into the Woods, began the emotional voice as she sings to husband, Alex, about raising their child. Alex's voice trembled. Then Mary Ellen reappeared with the haunting "Children will listen" and started to lose composure. I sat in the back with my moist tissue, my oldest daughter's hand on my shoulder. I pray, "Oh, Lord, she can't lose it. Keep her voice strong," as my tears slow down. I can cry, but she's on stage, she can't. She commands the stage and her song swiftly. I think how I will miss seeing her, Carly and Alex. They have been close friends, performing together since elementary school and all of high school. It is over.
The juniors show great talent. They too have matured over the years and I think ahead. Next year, I wonder what production they will transform to their own. The director asked me if any more Lyon's are coming up, "Please tell me there are." I point to David's great-nephew. His mother is a Lyon. He's in fifth grade. He asked if he could write a play after seeing the preview on Wednesday. I tell her, "Watch out for Jacob." She smiles.
I promise help for next year. I want to stay involved in any way I can. These kids work hard from before Christmas, preparing for auditions to starting on Christmas break to almost every weekend of practicing and set building and several evenings a week. Four months, they pour themselves into singing, dancing and acting. We cannot lose the arts, for the arts save esteem that we hope produces a better society.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Opening Night

Opening night of my youngest daughter's last high school musical was rife with emotional highs and lows. I am amazed at the different girl in "her" environment of the art wing. Smiles, acceptance and accolades surround her and fill her. She even kisses me and tells me she loves me as I volunteer with other mothers to serve dinner to the cast, crew and pit.
I also got a call from a publisher on my cell phone and talking about my novel and the possibility soon of being published draws that smile from somewhere deep inside me. I walk around the halls searching for a quiet place as the woman janitor tells me her problems of getting something clean. She takes my inner glow as a caring, that normally I would have, if not for the editor talking to me. I walk back to the AAA cafe on a cloud.
One of the mothers mentions her mother coming, where they will sit in the auditorium. I commented that my parents have front row seats and a beat or two is skipped. She looked at me closely, "I just heard what you said, I'm sorry."
I explain that has been five years since my mother's body got tired and died. "I'm OK," I lied, "Enjoy your mother while she's here." Kind of like the introduction song of the Irish hour, "You'll miss her when she's gone." floats into my head. The scripture verse of Hebrews 12:1 of "Therefore since you are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses." dropped into my mind. I know, theologians this doesn't apply to loved ones in a musical, but somehow thinking God pulls back the curtain to allow the relatives to see their descendants gives us humans comfort.
I sat in the auditorium surrounding myself with empty seats. Yes, I missed my family, but I didn't feel alone. I'm used to it by now. I was unprepared for all the songs about loss of children and mothers and not being alone. I only had a scratchy tan napkin in my purse to wipe the tender skin around my eyes. I'm glad I'm isolated for this evening. I could grieve in the dark. The next performances I'll have company, so this was my time to miss my mom, who always reveled in watching the kids perform, and grieve my daughter growing up, singing of children and loss. She is beautiful, but I don't feel ownership. Her singing has always moved me. This night, her voice cracks at times as the script provides many words rapidly for talking and song.
A music teacher a few seats from me, asked after the curtain falls, if anyone was related to me. "Why, yes, the witch is my daughter."
"I thought so, with the crying," she sympathized, "She was wonderful. Tell her to drink lots of water and no lemons or citrus."
She introduced me to her small children, a blond boy around ten and her younger daughter, as the witch's mother. I laugh inside as I think, you have no idea. My daughter seems to be a method actor and we live with it.
I think, now I understand the depression taking residence in our home. Into the Woods, explores sad, sad themes of growing up and happily ever after is not easily maintained. I thank God, that our happily ever after is with the great cloud of witnesses. My hope remains in Jesus. This world is not my home, but the world is the woods and lessons learned help us out. I am not alone-Never will I leave you, nor forsake you.
Do you think Sondheim thought of that when he wrote the song?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hurray for Spring!

My love affair with The Corral started again when we were looking for homes to buy. The realtor took us to the  white cement drive-in ice cream stand along 18 after walking through a house we really liked, ready to make an offer. The hot summer day cooling into a warm summer evening, with local ice cream. I got a sundae that overflowed the cup. Sitting there, conversing about hopefully our new home and savoring the summer feel of June, slurping the soft ice cream seemed almost Heaven to me.We tended more when I was a kid of stopping at a Twin Kiss farther north on 18 after a day at Pymatuning. That Twin Kiss went out of business, eventually leaving only the sign to finally no traces of those quiet summer evenings after a full day at the beach and driving. They, too, served soft serve twist cones of chocolate and vanilla.
We moved closer to The Corral, but not to the house we had hoped to call home. I think the owners decided they had a special home, because they never did sell it. We took those late evening summer drives to get the soft serve twists. I have to order a baby twist, because even the small towers over me.
Then we decided to sample the food on our way to the Shenango Dam. I fell in love with their chili dogs on homemade buns, a definite step above the national brand ice cream place. The French Fries, tasted like I fried them on my stove, crispy golden with a tender white inside. Milkshakes are delicious, but I crave something different, unable to buy just any where- coffee stirs- I wrote about them before:
Today is opening day. I have started to see this as a rite of spring, as much as the buzzards coming back to Hinkley or robins or opening day for baseball. The Corral opening up is a long awaited event that even with the gray cool weather of today will have a crowded little lobby of people wanting their twists or french fries and lo-boys(their hamburgers) I'm calling ahead and will devour my chili dog in the mini van. I don't think I'll venture taking Harrison yet. He loves the ice cream, but allows the french fries to lay on the ground. That's OK, the birds like them.
When the girls were young, they climbed the cherry tree while we waited for our food. I gaze out at the farm land all around and relish western Pennsylvania summers. Hurray for Spring!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waiting for the New Pope to Step on the Balcony

As the announcement first came on the radio, then the picture on Facebook, of the white smoke, a pope is elected. Right now, the name has been not revealed, as the cardinal steps out of his red and clothes himself all in white. Soon, he will enter the balcony, so the world will know the leader of the Roman Catholic church.
I think of another announcement when I was in high school. A brief reign ended abruptly by death commenced the voting process again. The new pope brought joy to my friend. She phoned me spurting out that this pope was Polish. She had Polish pride and this day bolstered her even higher.
I was thrilled for her. I remember Pope John Paul II with his gentle smile from his spirit. That pope inspired many in the world, even those who were not Roman Catholic.
And on this late winter day, I also think how that Pope suffered a shooting. We thrilled because he forgave the gunman. He seemed to embody the attitude of Christ.
The Pope carries great reverence to millions of people. Being a protestant, this devotion and awe is somewhat hard to feel. I hear it when my Roman Catholic friends and relatives speak with that appeal in their voice, similar to British subjects' wonder at their Queen.
The Pope is a man, but he has a weighty responsibility. I pray for this man, whoever he may be. Lord protect him, guide him with wisdom to lead the largest denomination of Christianity.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I finished reading another novel by Chris Bohjalian, Midwives. As I was reading it, I felt a connection to the woman who narrates the story. She is fourteen in 1981, six years younger than I. I kept thinking of activities I did in those months in 1981. The times spans from March of that year to the fall, end of September. I was a junior in nursing school then became a senior. David joined the Navy in May, with our plans to get married after I graduated. We were a year away from living in New England, where this story is set.
The girl is an only child of post hippie parents. Her mother lives a redolent hippie lifestyle as a midwife while her father gave up his beads for architecture practice. On the surface, a scenario far from my life. I am the youngest with older siblings who had flown the coop by the time I was nine. I felt like an only child sometimes, not in that negative aspect referred to on occasion.
I had a closeness with my parents bordering on an adult level. This story placed me back in those times of sharing. Dad's car accident and the many months in the hospital, I visited him with my mother. The girl has a crisis, also(why would there be a novel, if she hadn't?). Her mother is charged with involuntary manslaughter, after performing an emergency Cesarean on a woman she thought was dead. The question is, was the mother dead or did this operation kill her. A riveting tale that had me thinking to the end that I knew the outcome.
The story drew me in as the adult woman recalls this time of fierce love she had for her parents with a desire to preserve their family. I thought of how my parents slept with their bedroom door open. I always stopped in their room, sat on my mom's side of the bed, telling them about the evening I had, if I had gone out.
That summer of 1981, I climbed the stairs after I believe working at Jameson Hospital. My dad called out to me from the bedroom, "David called me this evening. He was wondering if it were OK to buy you a ring when you go out to California later this summer."
I held my breath.
"I told him that he had to ask you," my dad continued.
Much of our life reflected at the top of those stairs and in their bedroom. Mom, mostly the one awake, reading. Putting her book down as I entered the room, Dad would turn to face me as I plopped on the bed and they listened.
The woman in the book, also, sat with her mother through chemo much later in their lives. I thought how we sat with my mother through her cancer. We turned her because she couldn't wait for the staff to move her due to her pain. Years later, after Dad had died, I spent many hours in hospital rooms with my mother, never regretting a minute. I needed to be with her as much as she needed me there.
Even though my parents were different than these young parents, both sets shared a strong commitment and love. They cared deeply for their girl, as my parents cared for us all. Reading this opened my memories to closeness that I wish all parents had with their children. The children may not always do right. Drug use, heavy petting, alcohol are some vices mentioned in which the fourteen participated. I did some too, not at fourteen, though. The naturalness of wanting a boyfriend, being accepted by peers, with the strong desire to protect our parents and family mix in a teenager's emotions. I felt, in a way, I could have written this story, that it is my story of my life.  I can see why Oprah picked it for her book club.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Have Not Lost the Passion

I'm changing jobs, but I haven't lost my passion for writing. I still plan on publishing my first two novels, as soon as my editor gets back to me. This takes a while, but I hope soon to inform you how to buy them on
I am finishing another novel that I started November 2011 for NaNoWriMo, but didn't complete then. I find myself stuck in how to wrap it up. I reread and made some revision, to refresh my mind, recently.  I know certain elements I want to include, but haven't come up with a strong idea. I will. I have a little over a week before I commence my new job.
I hope to continue posting almost every day on my blog, here, too. I'm still toying with a children's series based on my female Siamese cat, Princess when my Mary Ellen was a baby. So this idea has played in my head for eighteen years. Illustration is so important in children's stories, I hope if I write these and get published, the illustrator can get the essence of the cat and the baby.
Oh, and I want to get spring cleaning done inside and out, and enjoy the high school musical this week. Into the Woods, with my daughter playing the witch, the Bernadette Peters role. Hmm, wonder if I can fit that into the series? Nanny Princess sneaks into the musical to see how her charge has become a talented woman. Yes, I can see this, can you?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Another Rite of Passage

Every single morning as I rounded the stairs and entered the middle room, through the dining room and into the sunny kitchen, the rich aroma of coffee greeted my nose. How could something smell so wonderful, and yet taste terrible, I wondered. Sometimes when I woke, Dad would have already percolated his second pot that morning. After his whip lash, he would sometimes drink about twenty four cups to help with the pain. My mother drank coffee, too, as well as everyone else in my family.
I'd look at the black liquid with disdain at times, but came to realize I'd like to start my mornings that way as well. The winter of my seven teenth year, I decided to try a cup. My parents drank it black, but they suggested I try it first with milk and sugar. I drank it that way for maybe a month, not very long. I lost the sugar and drank it with just milk. By the end of March, I learned to not put anything in it, but I needed chocolate along with the drink.
Soon though, I could imbibe without sweet stuff, but I preferred it that way. I only drank it right after breakfast, never with lunch or dinner or salty foods. Two mugs and I was satisfied. It also helped with the morning elimination routine.
When I flew to California, I found airline coffee to be putrid like promised. I had looked forward to drinking coffee and reading while I waited between flights, feeling very sophisticated. I couldn't drink this coffee and I couldn't go back to cream and sugar. The base has to be palatable to add any thing to it. This was before Starbucks and other gourmet coffee.
I started at Clepper Manor. I sat at the table with the older workers and found this coffee sat too long in the pot and undrinkable to me. My neighbor, Billy Thompson, informed me if you smoke that dulls the taste buds and that is how you can drink that coffee. I didn't take up smoking with coffee drinking. I drank Coke instead for my caffeine.
For almost two years after I was married, I only bought coffee at restaurants and take out. David still does not drink the black stuff and we didn't get a coffee maker for a wedding present. I worked midnights, so I grabbed a cup at the kitchen on the floor, sipping it during report. Mostly though the one year in the summer, I drank diet Coke.
I believe Mom and Dad got a new Mr. Coffee and brought me their old one when we moved back to Connecticut. Then I made my coffee to my specifications. I only drank it when I woke up, whenever that was.
So for years I made coffee to fit my taste of drinking black coffee until this year. Mary Ellen informed me by making it herself one day that she prefers it to be very strong, as she still adds milk. Actually, she doesn't like coffee as much as she craves the caffeine. I started this winter making it stronger than I like. I discovered the flavored creamers, though and they fit perfectly with the strong coffee. I also like the feel of a smooth drink on my stomach first thing in the morning. I stumble out of bed, into the kitchen to get that coffee going. I tried once to set it on a timer so it would be ready when I woke. My dad did this and it worked well for him. My coffee when I did that tasted stale to me. Maybe Dad kept his machine cleaner than I do mine.
Coffee is a staple in my life. I truly can't go without it or I get a headache. I had tried different times and by the third day, misery arrived with headache, lower back ache, and withdrawal symptoms. I love O'Neill coffee roasted in my old West Middlesex. The Diner there serves it and I will have a cup every time I go there, 2 mugs or more with breakfast. I buy it sometimes for home. O'Neill is the cup to stop your morning routine.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Freedom of Driving-Rite of Passage

I was excited and intimidated about getting my permit when I turned sixteen. I had taken driver's ed, the book work at school, played on the simulator, watched all the movies with wrecks and passed the test. Dad drove me over to Mercer shortly after my birthday. I had the little piece of cardboard paper allowing me behind the wheel of our Nova with a licensed driver next to me.
My mom continued to renew her driver's license, but she never drove. She became much too anxious. She drove the year before, on our trip to Wyoming, at fifty five miles an hour with her head and neck so stiff with fear that my dad really didn't get the rest he needed from driving. That was the last time she ever drove, ever. So Mom would not be the one in the passenger seat while I learned.
I didn't drive home from Mercer, like some of my friends were allowed to do. Dad, though, did have me drive to the school to practice. I turned the right corners fine, but pulling into School Street as a left hand turn proved to be more difficult than I anticipated. I managed somehow to get that little blue Nova up over an eight inch curb, bending the no parking sign. The funny thing is that sign is still there and still bent. Now the world can know.
My dad remained calm. I guess as a practiced instructor of three other teens, he took it all in stride. In the school parking lot, after we somehow got off the curb- I really don't remember how we did disengage the car-I plowed into the fence at the foot ball field. Again, Dad didn't get rattled, quietly instructed me to back up and try again.
We then gave the lessons a break for about a month. Then we drove over to Mercer, going down the big hill on 318 by the Wilson farm. He guided me into gears and we made it down. I went off the road once, just one tire, but I gently returned to the highway. Summer time driving in the country filled me with freedom after my initial nervousness. Dad comfortably relaxed in the seat next to me or so he appeared.
I looked back and wondered how Dad remained peacefully calm, after I rode with my daughters learning to drive. I felt chest pain, imaging that heart attack from anxiety. I reminded myself, if I'm relaxed (or limp) I won't get hurt as much in a collision. I knew though I couldn't close my eyes. I had many sharp intakes of air like my mother used to do.
One day after weeks of practicing driving, three point turns at Farrell High School and parallel parking, I drove over to Mercer to have a state trooper get into the passenger side. I felt confident, but still the officers are stern, not chattering. I listened to his directions with no mishaps. I passed, obtaining another paper with my information on it, that I could drive by myself.
In August after my Vo-Tech stint, I took a week of in car driver's ed with Mr. V. We drove to New Castle, Youngstown, Mercer on the interstate. We went in circles practicing the clover leaf, entering and exiting the interstate. Every once in a while, the brakes left our control, as Mr. V. pushed his bar to brake us. Usually three students shared this driving experience, two learning in the back as we waited our rotation to drive. We couldn't listen to the cool FM stations, because Mr. V. insisted on "live radio." We couldn't explain to him that the live radio played records, too. No it was WFMJ or WKBN AM only that got air play in the driver's ed car. We ate lunch at McDonald's. We took all day to get our driving time in.
Like my sisters and brother before me, I crashed into our wooden garage door backing out. When we first moved there, Mr. Boal rented a side of the old stone garage. I believe by mutual agreement, he decided it was safer to park on Haywood Street or the church parking lot behind his house. We needed two cars with teen aged drivers.
That first summer of driving I cherish a freedom limited by the eleven o'clock curfew and if we were allowed to have the car. All our parents seemed generous lending us a vehicle, as we drove to the Mall, the park, McDonald's on State Street, where everyone hung out. My husband, not growing up in this area, still does not understand the driving around Buhl Park. I can't explain the right of passage, the element of growing up, finding dates and friends, the freedom of rolled down windows on a clear summer evening and blaring your music, singing with your friends in the car. The car equaled freedom, when you could fill up for a dollar- yes, a dollar.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Learning on a First Job

A thin, blond hair girl in white dress, white stockings and white nursing shoes stepped into Clepper Manor for a short orientation. The days had to be on the weekend since week days I still had high school. I had been hired for afternoon shift, which suited this young girl fine. I soon found out, I had more to learn than clinical information. I woke up to maneuvering in personality landmines of diverse personalities with plots and subplots. I went thinking adults would act like adults. The reality that adults still act like children plunged me into the world.
I stared at a man getting bathed during orientation. He sat up with a bag on his abdomen, stool in the bag. I had never known that could be. I thought, wow!
I helped the RN with a crater of a wound on another man's buttocks. She showed me how they pasted a mixture of beta-dine and sugar, keeping a heat lamp on it. My job was to remind her when the time was up for the treatment.
One man had an extended scrotum. My eyes again could not keep from staring in the shower room. I've hardly seen any man naked and this was boggling. He also had dementia, so I had that to deal with.
I learned to straw feed a woman, who couldn't even drink from a cup. This was early on my afternoon shift, the nurse came in to show me how to get liquids in this unresponsive woman. Soon, her eyes fixated on the ceiling and the fluid pooled on her tongue. I called the nurse, who examined her. The nurse's eyes told me what I knew. The woman had died. She had been on her way out before I had to feed her, but I still became troubled by my first witnessed death.
As I said, though, my most permanent and important lesson came from dealing with all the people. The workers' envy, pride and cutting corners, along with their personal lives of chaos, sometimes, I hadn't encounter before this time in my life. The patients with dementia, some totally out of it and some very mild that I didn't pick up on it at first,taught me that people lose the thread to this world. One lady wandered into rooms and stole items. I liked her as she pleasantly talked to me, I found it hard to believe she did that.
A new resident wanted to go home so badly that every evening, she escaped up or down State Street. She lived in the upstairs with the residents who required less custodial care. I learned though, that though they could walk, they still sometimes weren't all there. When I had the upstairs assignment,I'd get a call, "Do you know where Mary is?" I found out I had to keep an eye on this crew. Finally, with the help of drugs, she stayed in her chair, but she didn't talk any more, either.
I had a hard time at first adjusting to being in charge of adults. The director of nursing called me into her office because I did let them make decisions slowing down my care. She pinpointed the problem as I sat down,"You have been taught to respect your elders." I had to learn that day, I was in the position of authority and even with patient's rights, I needed to guide them into good decisions.
The four months I worked there in the summer, though, I never dreaded going to work. I offered once to work a double, then I saw how much was taken out for taxes, the whole pay for the shift I worked.
 I did enjoy days once in a while, but preferred sleeping in most days. The evening bells from St. Joseph's next door filtered through the open windows of the building with no air conditioning, lifting my spirit with the hymns. When I worked upstairs, one lady had her private room with a balcony overlooking the alley between the gray church and the manor. I would sit for a while on that porch as we talked about Jesus. I showed her my poems I had written, which she enjoyed and critiqued.
I lost weight that summer, as the work was physically hard, and the summer warm, so I sweated. I often ran through McDonald's new drive through on my way home at eleven, or I ate a whole box of crackers when I came home, sitting watching the end of the local news with my mother and father, telling them about my evening. I tried to walk or swim in the mornings before work. I relished the extended time to read my Bible and write by my open window in my room.
I look back on this summer with fond memories and at the end of it, I met David. I am happy to return to this place of employment. I anticipate joy in meeting new people, hearing new stories and helping. I have learned a lot in thirty four years, but love of people has only grown.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Overly Confident

The summer after I turned sixteen, I took a six week course at the Mercer County Vo-Tech to learn to be a nurse's aid. We paid five dollars and if we had perfect attendance at the end, we received the fee back. Early in the morning for summer, we met outside the  West Middlesex High School cafeteria to board a yellow school bus transporting us the twelve miles to the career school.
The building, itself, newly built, screamed the future. An actual restaurant staffed by students learning culinary skills, a mechanic shop allowed car repairs for the faculty by young men being trained, a beauty shop and designing art room edged the open common area, where we ate lunch. We did not eat in the restaurant.
The nurse's aid course was taught in two rooms, a class room and a lab, resembling a hospital ward. The group of girls on the first step of a health care career were from all over the county. Sharon, Sharpsville, Greenville and Jamestown. One day, we all brought in our yearbooks cluing me into how small Jamestown school was. I believe they had a class of thirty eight that year. We learned together, fed each other while one was blindfolded, and we bonded those six weeks. We had to write our obituaries, study for tests and appreciate Miss Kellogg's dry humor.
I came home around three and would lay on our living room blue/green carpeted floor reading the paper. I discovered naps again. I think I got hot on the ride home, the cool air in our high ceiling home plus reading lulled me into that rest I needed.  Being sixteen in the summer, I still stayed up too late. Even then I wanted to do it all in the summer.
After the course was over, with my five dollars in my hand and a newly obtained driver's license, I put my application in all the local nursing homes. I was trained. I wanted to be a nurse. This was my career and I felt confident. No one bothered to tell me I needed to be eighteen to work in these facilities.
April 26, 1979, I got a call from Clepper's on State Street in Sharon. Could I work for them? I started working before I graduated from high school, the afternoon shift. I had to make sure I had the night off for my graduation.
Tomorrow, I return to Clepper Manor. This time, I'm not an overly confident, non experienced eighteen year old. I've been nursing for over thirty years, but I still believe the best nurse is the hands on nurse. I'm looking forward to mentoring the staff and loving new people. I'll also write tomorrow on what I learned at my first job as a nurse's aid.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Follow Up on Mr. Boo(For Diane)

Since I can't do the copy and paste images very well, this is a two parter. I saw the ad for this coupon in Sunday's paper for "Snot you average wipe!" I thought, it is Mr. Boo's baby brother or him as a child. He is called Boogie Buddy. I wonder what my mother would have thought about that.
My husband abhors booger humor. I couldn't even show him, as I know his reaction of disdain.
I do wish this product of the saline wipes had been around when my children were young. The "Save the Sleeve" campaign is clever inspired by mothers. I'm thinking for myself, I wouldn't mind using these wipes.
I am impressed. Children are fascinated with the products of their bodies. The nose, though, is often irritated or itchy with hard and dry boogers. Many times as children are in front of a group of adults, do those fingers go picking for gold, as the saying goes. Parents cringe. Yet, we have all seen our children do it at one time or another. If this product saves a little bit of that embarrassment, I think it is well worth the investment.
As I mentioned, some adults could probably use this product as well. In junior high, there was a certain teacher we nicknamed "Pick and Flick." Hurry up and duck, incoming.
I would not have been afraid of Mr. Boo, if Boogie Buddy had been around in 1964. am not trying to sell anything. I'm not even sure how I feel about this product, but when I saw the coupon in the paper Sunday, I thought, "Oh, my, Mr. Boo as a kid."how to get a boogs

Monday, March 4, 2013

March Don't Play

March weaves a melancholy effect on me that produced the poem I wrote yesterday. Spring hides around it. The snow tires the eyes in the beginning of the month. Sometimes, the heat will rise to abnormally highs, plunging the next day to a blizzard. March can't be controlled. It defies prediction.
March changes. Change disorients. Change does not stabilize. Even when I lived at home I found myself most homesick in this month. My freshman year of nursing school, I hungered for bright blue skies of California of my trip the year before. I wanted to curl up in my dad's lap. I want a physical touch of family. As the atmosphere shifts, I search for solid ground.
As I grow older, the old saying of time travels so much faster than when you are young seems true. March will hardly begin and then it will be over. I reminded myself yesterday as I stared at the bleak snow and black branches against a gray sky that in a month, just a month, the trees will sprout a green mist in the little tiny leaves and buds. Soon color will return. Days zoom past, but minutes edge forever.
March lingers. March gets under my skin. Sunny days, but still cold, and longer evenings, but bitter wind, I must endure. I have no choice. Warmer days tease. They come too soon and briefly. White skin exposed to remind us not too long ago, snow covered the ground.
Another March I drudge through. Thankfully, I know this too shall pass. March put away homesickness. March welcome the longer sunlight. March push us outside in the warmer breezes. March don't play hide and seek. March don't play with my emotions.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Melancholy Sunday Evening

The sun sets later
The snow flits in the air
Mute blue
Muted blues
Not really sad
Life is changing
Sunday is over
Long Sunday drive
Reading the paper
Quiet melancholy
Funny how melancholy
Has 'holy' in it.
Rest will be over
Hush, hush
Heavy in chest
When is spring?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

End of Winter

Another event I looked forward to as a kid and junior high school-er was the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast. A still wintery Saturday in February or March set the time for this annual event. When I was small, it lasted twelve hours from seven in the morning till seven at night. You could go for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with that delicious grange sausage.They prepared the meal in the high school kitchen and served it in the cafeteria.
I believed that is what thrilled me the most, eating with my parents in the room where I ate every day in first and second grade, then again in seventh grade, and up. Seeing the adults gathering around and visiting at tables where usually kids sat. Oh, there was the principal, smiling with his family causing me to suddenly feel shy. Everyone supported the Kiwanis. Neighbors, friends and their parents, teachers, and business men filled up the cafeteria. Sometimes they were behind the counter, flipping the pancakes, turning those sausage links.
The adults drank coffee from Styrofoam cups. The kids had a choice of milk or orange juice in cartons. We never had orange juice during school. Our territory changed for a day. The landscape scattered with different faces and definitely better food. I don't think we even had to return our trays. Volunteers cleared our tables.
I love community events. The getting out and seeing neighbors, especially at the end of winter, when we used to be cooped up for months. Times have changed from those days of Pancake Breakfasts. They still have them, but people eat out so much more than when I was a child. Now you see your neighbors at Eat-N-Park or Giant Eagle. We miss something, though, when we don't sit at common metal tables in an old cafeteria.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Don't Limit God

By the time I was in eighth grade, Dad's sick time benefits had run out. The union worked on getting him early retirement, but we went awhile without income. We used food stamps. Dad and Mom wouldn't give up the house to get on welfare. We got through this time, never feeling poor.
My cousin graduated in the spring, moving to Washington, D.C. Learning to live on her own, she shrunk some clothes with her first washing. On a visit home, she brought them for me at or around Christmas time. They fit me perfectly. I was thrilled because I loved Carol's style.
Clothes played an important part in my mom's raising of us. Having gone through the Great Depression, wearing clothes too big for several years or hand-me-downs from women for whom she baby-sat, she declared to my father, that her children would have new clothes, if she had to do without. He agreed, as he, too, couldn't afford a suit his senior year, causing him to drop out of school.
I remember wishing in the fall, as winter approached, to have some different clothes. I didn't voice this to my parents or really anyone. I can't say I even prayed about it. I knew we couldn't afford to shop like we used to do and I was all right about that. My clothes hadn't worn out or gotten small, I thought about new clothes, as a young teen-age girl would.
I think back on this and wonder if my mom prayed that I could have some new clothes. Shopping for us built pride in her, especially as she always hunted for bargains to get more outfits for us. Or Dad may have, as he, too, took pride in our clothes.
I grew from this experience. I learned my heavenly Father cares about new clothes for an eighth grade girl silently wishing for a little change in her wardrobe. He cares for all the details. Don't limit God in anything, big or small.