I haven’t written anything for several weeks, I’ve been busy getting ready for Christmas. I’ve been learning a new craft and working on new items to list in my Etsy shop. I’ve been doing all kinds of things that I thought were so important. I’ve been busy.

Last Friday I stopped being busy. I spent most of the day watching in horror as the news unfolded about the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

There are not enough words to express the heart break, the horror, the anger I felt, as so many felt, as we learned that most of those who died were children, innocent, beautiful, wonderful little children. The others were their brave heroic teachers who gave their lives trying to protect the children. I can’t imagine the terror, horror they felt as they faced a gunman intent on killing children.

Last Friday, once again our world changed, not for the better, but it did change. All that is left are the questions, why? why would anyone want to hurt little children? Unfortunately too many children are hurt every day, not usually in numbers like Friday but they are being hurt. Child abuse is a fact, not a fact we should ever get used to or allow to exist, but it does exist.

How? How does this keep happening? How many shootings do we have to continue to live through before they are stopped? I can remember far too many of them, Columbine 1999; Virginia Tech 2007; Omaha shopping center 2007; Illinois Univ. DeKalb 2008; a nursing home North Carolina 2009; a civic center in Binghamton NY 2009; Texas Southern University Houston 2009; Fort Hood Texas 2009; Tucson Arizona 2011; Aurora Colorado theater 2012; Accent Signage systems Minneapolis Mn 2012; Oak Creek Wisconsin Shkh Temple 2012; Portland Or. mall 2012 and Newtown Conn. school.

This isn’t a complete list…. there are many, many more if you look them up. One site listed over 65 shootings in the United States in the last 30 years.

When? When are we going to stop killing each other? This is supposed to be a time of good cheer and good tidings towards each other, what went wrong? Where have we all gone wrong? It has to stop…. I wish I had some great plan to stop this but like everyone else I am at a total loss. I wish someone, anywhere had a way to stop all this madness, I was about to say before it gets out of hand, but it is already so far out of hand and it is frightening.

I can’t even begin to imagine what parents are feeling right now as they sent their children off to school this morning. It would have to be the most terrifying moment, even half a country away, the fear is here.

School should be a safe carefree place for children but in one day that was taken away from us, as was going to a movie, or shopping. We need to feel safe again but it is so hard in a world gone crazy enough for a gunman to shoot innocent children.

Despite all the madness around us Christmas will come, perhaps this is a good time to rethink our priorities and decide whether or not we want to continue living in a time and place where children are killed in their classrooms eleven days before Christmas.

Maybe if we all wished for Peace and Good Will, no matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or any other holiday it might just come true.

Tonight hug your children a little longer, hug your family members a little tighter, remember that the holidays are truly about love and kindness not presents and hectic activities.

Have a great holiday


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Keeping Secrets

The past week has been more stressful than usual, even more than normal for a holiday. This year my three sisters and I got together and decided to surprise our mother. Mom is 91 years young. She doesn’t go out anywhere anymore but she is still very active and very, very alert.

We moved into the house we’re in almost 30 years ago. For most of my many nieces and nephews this is the only place Great Grandma has lived, but when we were growing up we lived in a lot of houses. My dad didn’t believe in buying back then so we rented, we rented a lot of different houses.

This is the first house my Mom has ever lived in that she can do whatever she wants in it. My older sister and I are actually the owners but it is Mom’s house as long as she is able to live here. It was several years before she felt comfortable enough to even put a nail in the wall without worrying. When you rent you can’t always put nails in the wall, paint or do anything that might damage something. We own it now nails don’t make any difference.

Ever since we moved in she has said, just once she would like a Thanksgiving dinner where everyone is sitting at the same table. This year we decided to fulfill that wish.

After days of emailing, a sister’s day out to finalize the plans and pick up what we needed to pull this off we thought we were ready. I ran interference with Mom. She is so used to doing it all. Thanksgiving has always been her holiday. When we were really little and lived closer to the relatives everyone came to our house and Mom made the entire dinner. this year we divided up the food so she was feeling a bit unneeded, especially when I told her she didn’t have to wash every plate in the house. We had it covered.

She was mad at me for a while she did not want to serve Thanksgiving dinner on paper plates. I kept telling her to trust us that we had it covered. She didn’t believe me.

My sisters have all agreed they owe me because I live with Mom and take care of all the things that she can’t do now days. I also am on the receiving end of her anger when things don’t go right. She’s a sweet lady but she raised seven kids alone. She’s used to being in control of every situation. Old age isn’t sitting well with her, especially as one by one things are being taken away from her because she just can’t do them any more.

On Wednesday before Thanksgiving my sisters, a niece, a nephew and his girlfriend show up with four 8 foot tables and a 6 foot table. I had measured the kitchen/dining area but had misunderstood my sister’s email. I measured for 2 8 foot tables not 4. We set up 2 of the 8 foot ones and the 6 foot one and moved them in every possible configuration trying to get space for 26 people.

After several hours we had it figured out. Everyone left planning to come back early Thursday morning to set it up, then head back home to finish cooking before we ate at noon.

We have always eaten Thanksgiving at noon because one of nieces is diabetic, has been most of her life and needed to eat at regular times as a child. It was easier to eat at noon than to cause her problems. Anyway Thursday morning they showed up as planned but that was the only thing that went as planned. The tables didn’t work they way we had thought they would. Time was moving but we couldn’t get the tables figured out.

We had already moved the regular dining table out, the dog kennel was moved out of its corner, two side stands and a center island were moved. The table still didn’t fit so we had enough room for everyone to sit at one table.

We were getting down to the wire when we finally decided to just set the two long tables side by side with room down the center for people. The shorter table ran length wise across the room. We weren’t all sitting at the same table but we were within touching space so that was as good as it was going to get. We set the tables with china, goblets, napkin rings, wine charms and name place markers. Even the little great grand kids had small goblets to drink from. It was fancy. We’re not normally fancy, we’re so used to doing buffets that the idea of sitting down at a table was unique.

We actually made it by 11:30 when everyone started to show up. Everyone sat down and we passed the food around and it actually worked. Mom almost broke down and cried when she gave the grace, which amounted to Thanking God for her crazy kids!

It might not have worked out like we originally planned it but it did work out. In fact it was so much fun having everyone in the same room talking to each other that some of them mentioned doing it for Christmas!! Definitely will be doing it again next Thanksgiving.

Thankfully next year we won’t have to keep it a secret. I hate keeping secrets. Especially from Mom when she kept asking me about things I couldn’t answer.

But we did pull it off, she was surprised and it turned out good. Nothing to worry about, my sleepless, stressful week was all for nothing.

But how are we going to top this one? Have you ever planned something big and have it not work out or at the last minute had to change all your plans only to have it work out better than you thought.

Happy Holidays to everyone. Hope your all your plans work out as well as ours did.

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How do you choose what books to read?

How do you choose what you want to read? Do your choices change from day to day? Mine do. I just downloaded a half-dozen books on my kindle. Everything from a new authors first book to Pickwick Papers by Dickens. I have a very eclectic taste in what I read.  Yet, no matter how many modern books I read, intend to read, plan on reading, I always go back to the classics. I am not an expert on the classics. I really haven’t read most of them. I just love the ones I have read and often reread them over and over. I very seldom read a book because it is on the best seller list or ones that are highly advertised all over. I usually go for the books that no one has heard of yet.

Like many readers, as a young child I only read one type of books. If the main character wasn’t an animal I wouldn’t read it. Then in about 6th or 7th grade I had an English teacher that I hated. He was always making mean sarcastic comments, I was that really shy quiet scared kid trying to hide under the desk. Anyway he made us keep a “file” of all the books we read. We were required to read so many for his class. Unlike now days there were no points or whatever, we just had to write down the title and author. Midway through the class he started taking us in small groups to the library and made us take out books that we would never have looked at normally. I learned to love all types of books. He picked out an Agatha Christie, Louis L’Amour, Dickens and Asimov. That year I read mysteries, westerns, nonfiction, science fiction, fiction of all kinds for the very first time.

It was eye-opening. Many of them I didn’t like at the time, I reread some of them years later and loved them. Now I read anything and everything. I think the classics should be, at the very least, read with a mind to when they were written. They are the best view we have of where we came from, the lessons learned through time, the changing times and dangers our world has gone through. They may be bias, prejudiced and a bit simplistic to our way of life and thinking but that is where we all came from. Those are our ancestors.

Over the years I have had other English teachers that pushed me further in my reading, Siddhartha, was one of the pushes that still confuses me. I’ve read it several times and even had to do a verbal test on it. The teacher said I understood it perfectly, which totally confused me because I had no clue what I had read.  He then made me read Steppenwolf, again I passed the test but have no idea to this day what that book was really about.

It was about this time in my life that I started reading “War and Peace”. Now over 40 years later I’m still trying to finish that one. I keep going back to it but for some reason I can’t finish it. It’s great, I enjoy it but for some reason I always get side tracked by other books.

Even though many of those books confused me but they made me think. They made me stretch my reading until I became the reader I am now. I love books. I love reading. I read everything from classics to paranormal, science fiction to nonfiction, fantasy to reality, the only thing I don’t do is read paranormal or other spooky type books in October. Any other time of the year is fine but I hate Halloween, it scares me so I read fun books or favorite children books in the month of October.  Or if I’m having a particularly bad October I reread Dickens “Tale of Two Cities” or “Great Expectations” although that book scared me the first time I had to read it. It was in middle school and reading about Miss Havisham burning in her ancient wedding dress scared me to death. It was a long time before I read that one again. Now it’s one of my favorites.

Now I read scary books at Christmas time, Christmas books during the summer, and everything else in between. So how do you choose what to read and when to read it? Who or what influenced your reading habits?


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Guardian Angels and Quarters

I’ve always believed in heaven and hell. I never really thought about it a lot until my younger brother died. He was not only my brother but my best friend. When we were younger we did a lot together. He was the outgoing one. The one who made and kept friends easily. I was the shy one, the one who was much more content watching than participating in things.

When my brother died I was devastated. He was only 44 years old but cancer doesn’t care about that. Cancer doesn’t care that he had so much to live for. That was over nine years ago, at the time I didn’t, couldn’t believe it when everyone said time heals. It does, or at least it makes the pain less.

My real belief in angels started on the day of my brother’s funeral. Through, what I suppose was a technical mistake, my name was left off of all the funeral notices. Normally that wouldn’t have bothered me much. I like staying in the background, but this was my brother. It hurt, a lot to be left out. During the funeral when they read the names of the surviving family members and I wasn’t mentioned, all around me the rest of family whispered that I had been left out. That didn’t help. I picked up a few local papers on the way home from the funeral, curiosity  I needed to know if I had been listed in those notices. I hadn’t. It was too much, when I got home I thrust the papers at my older brother and fled upstairs to cry my eyes out. He was so upset he ran back to get our mother. She was still at the church talking to friends. It took us weeks to find those papers. He didn’t want me upset so he hid them under a cushion in a chair.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my younger brother was there, he was watching out for me. Even though I was really upset leaving the church I noticed a quarter on the sidewalk. Not to extraordinary, but I picked it up. After I glanced through the papers and noticed my missing name, I found another quarter on the road. I picked it up. Walking the two blocks from the church to our house I found several more quarters. I picked them up also.

Rushing up the driveway, I found four more quarters, all in a row waiting for me. I didn’t think about them. I picked them up and put them in my pocket with the other quarters.

Much later I was watching something on TV about how loved ones keep in contact once they had passed on. One of the things they mentioned was coins. They like to leave us coins. My brother leaves me quarters. Over the years there have been less quarters in my path, but he still leaves them for me. When I have those days when I really miss him or need to talk to him, I find a quarter.

A friend recently lost her father to cancer. She had known my brother in school. She was having a really difficult time facing the reality that her father was dying. I was walking to the gym, we went to the same one but not usually at the same time. Occasionally we’d see each other there, but not often. Then one day on my way there I found a quarter. They just seem to be there when I need them. It doesn’t matter how many people have passed that way before me, when I look down there it is. I picked it up knowing instinctively that it was for our friend. My brother wanted her to know that everything would be okay.

I explained to her about the quarters, gave her the one I found. Later she said it got her through some rough times. It helps to know that those we love still watch over us and know what we are going through.

The quarters don’t hurt either. I always put my brother’s quarters in a special bank. Every year to raise money for the cancer fund they have an all night event where you can buy white paper bags and decorate them in memory of your lost ones or in honor of cancer survivors  They light candles in the bag and line the walkway for people to read them. I use the quarters to buy a bag for my brother and my sister each year. We lost them eight months apart to cancer.

Everyone should be lucky enough to have a guardian angel who leaves quarters. That is when he isn’t too busy playing hockey among the clouds and teaching the little angels how to play cloud baseball and hockey.

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How do you handle grief?

Grief  is the hardest emotion to handle, at least it is for me. Grief isn’t just one emotion it is all emotions. Sorrow, pain, anger, confusion, guilt, every emotion you have ever felt is in grief. It leaves you drained, physical and emotionally.  For me grief is the worst emotion to go through. After dealing with grief everything else is easy.

For me, grief is grief! It doesn’t matter if I’m grieving the death of a loved family member or the death of a loved pet.

To anyone who has never loved a pet this might seem stupid. Anyone who has loved  and lost a pet will totally understand. I can’t live without a pet. I am a basically a dog person although I do love my cat. Possibly because this cat thinks she’s a dog, she’s shaped like a dachshund and acts like a German Shepherd. Anyway to me the grief for a pet isn’t all that much different from the grief I felt losing my brother and sister.

Ten years ago my youngest brother died of cancer, it was the worst time of my life. He was my brother, my best friend and my main supporter. He cheered me on in everything I did. I did the same for him also. When he was diagnosed with cancer it was devastating. He fought the cancer for three months before losing the battle.  I made it through with a ton of tears and a ton of poetry. I write poetry whenever I’m faced with things I can’t handle. Poetry has gotten me through life. I only write it when I can’t express or deal with my emotions any other way. Eight months after my brother died, my oldest sister was diagnosed with cancer. She died after a three month fight.  Once again we were plunged into deep grief.

Losing both of them so close together was terrible, the worst possible time. Then my eleven year old dog died, she died of old age but it didn’t make it any easier. I turned back to the poetry. A month later I got a new dog, a two year old golden retriever. I had him for two years and then he died of cancer. A year later my 20 year old cat died of old age. Death! It was all I was writing about, occasionally I would slip in a poem about what they all meant to me, but mostly I was writing about how I felt losing them. My grief was just as deep, just as hard to deal with for the dogs and cat as it was for my family members.  For a three year period I was emotionally numb. There was just too much death around me. Death has never scared me, the way I die does. I don’t want a long painful death, but then no one ever does. After those three years of losing so many loved ones, human and animal, grief and death finally turned into peaceful memories. It became easier to tell the stories about them again. Life continued. I can’t forget any of those I’ve lost, but the losing them has eased. I know they are no longer suffering and hopefully are in a much better place. I do believe in heaven for both humans and pets.

Thankfully we pass through the grief and in time we only remember the good happier times we had with them. What brought this up today was yesterday my sister lost her three year old lab to a freak accident. He was a very typical lab, loved playing ball. She threw the ball for him as she had done thousands of time. He ran after it and somehow broke his back. He had to be euthanized immediately. Obviously she is devastated but he died doing what he lived for. He loved playing ball and running.

Grief is such a hard emotion. No one really knows what to say to you or even do when faced with the grief of others. After the funeral is over you are basically left alone to deal with all the pain and emotion. It’s even worse when you lose a pet, no one comes to help you through those first few days. You bury your loved pet alone or with a few family members.

Sometime I think its easier to hide out until the grief has run its course and you can move back into life with just the memories of your loved one or loved pet. Unfortunately life usually won’t let you hide until your emotions are ready to face people again.

Life is never easy and death isn’t comfortable for anyone to talk about or deal with. I handle it by writing poetry. It’s how I handle death, it’s how I handle most problems.  My intentions with this blog wasn’t to bring anyone down, its just that death is always a part of life. You can’t get away from it, sooner or later everyone loses someone they love and I was just wondering how others dealt with death and grief. They are the most intense emotions we ever have to deal with. They are never easy but they are a part of us. I write, I write about them, to them, for them. I keep their memories alive by writing poetry. Most of my poetry will never be read but that’s okay. I write for myself and those who I’ve lost. What do you do to ease your pain of grief and death?


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What peculiar thing would you buy for yourself?

What peculiar thing would you buy for yourself? If you won the lottery or suddenly inherited a huge amount of money what one peculiar, quirky behavior would you give into?

For me, it’s socks! I can’t wear shoes without socks and I’m very fussy about my socks! I like new socks, if I could only wear socks once or maybe twice, I’d be the happiest person alive! I hate socks that have been washed a lot. They lose their softness, their newness, their fuzziness.

I want a brand new pair of soft socks every day! This isn’t anything new with me. My mom used to embarrass me by telling everyone about my sock thing. When she brought me home from the hospital over 50 years ago, whenever she would give me a bath she couldn’t take my booties off!

She would give me my bath with my booties on, then quickly pull one bootie off wash that foot, put the bootie back on then do the other foot. All the while I would be screaming my head off.

Screaming bloody murder – put my booties back on!

I still hate going barefoot. I want my socks on unless it’s like well over 90 degrees and humid out, then, I might, just might take my socks off

Now I can’t even run around the house with just socks on. A few years ago I was given a cute little orange striped kitten. I like cats but I am actually a dog person. This cat thinks she’s a dog so its working out fine. She gets along great with the lab mix so everything was fine, until . . .

She has a thing for white socks. This cat is unusual because she never uses her claws even though she has four perfectly good sets of claws. She bites, like a dog! It’s not so bad now that’s she’s not a kitten anymore, she knows she can’t bite people  Basically we treated her the same as we would any puppy that bit. It’s just not acceptable.

Which is where the socks come in. The only thing we can’t stop her from biting are feet in white socks, just white socks. She likes to lick bare feet. She totally ignores shoes and colored socks. But just try to walk through the house in white socks! She grabs your foot and chomps down hard on the top of your foot into the white sock. Unfortunately those sharp feline teeth go through the white socks into your foot. Ouch!

My nephews won’t take their shoes off anymore because they all wear white sports socks and the cat likes to chomp on their feet.

Oh, I wish I could win the lottery and have new socks every day, just not white ones!

If you had all the money in the world what peculiar thing would you buy for yourself?

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Caught without a Book!

Saturday I spent the day at a Renaissance Festival. I hadn’t been there in ten years. The Festival was great but for the very first time in my life I went someplace without a book. I take books everywhere! Even if I know I’ll never have a chance to read them or even take them out of my bag. I take books everywhere. They are my security blanket, much like Linus from Peanuts.

My sister had gotten us tickets to go to the Festival on a bus. We live in a very small town so we don’t have public transportation of any kind. This was going to be a fun trip. The Festival is about an hour and a half drive from our meeting point. It was a half hour drive to meet the buses.

The trip to the Festival was quick and fun. It was the anticipation of all the fun we were going to have. It was a long day with a lot of walking, dusty, windy but fun.

Then, at the appointed time we headed back to our bus. We were early, the second people to return. We had almost an hour to wait before leaving! No book! Tired aching feet, nothing to do but sit there and stare at the empty seats around us. We talked a bit, but we had been together for almost 8 hours by then, wasn’t much left to talk about. The time to leave came but there were 3 people still not on the bus. We had to wait longer. They finally came, they had to do a count to make sure everyone was accounted for, so they called off all the names for both buses. Then they had to go to the second bus and do the same thing. Finally, we were rolling.

My sister has the window seat, I am in the seat next to the bathroom. All I have to watch is the steady stream of people going to and from the bathroom. That and try not to breath too much, the bus company had a very strong room freshener that was over powering. We did learn a very valuable lesson, don’t be the last ones to show up for a bus trip. By the time you register, sign in and get on a bus, the only seats left are the ones at the very back next to the bathroom!

Still no book! I look up the aisle and there are books everywhere. Everyone else came prepared for the long, boring, tired trip back. I can’t sleep in moving vehicles. I get car sick if I close my eyes. Years of throwing up in cars, I’ve learned to stay awake and keep the food inside the stomach.

Second lesson learned . . .  no matter how exciting the day might be, you have to travel home and that is a long trip. To me it always seems to take twice as long to get home as it does to get wherever you’re going. Maybe it just seems that way because this time I didn’t have a book of any kind with me. Never leave home without a book!


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