I love being a woman.

I’m a woman who has experience being a wife, a mom, a student, a teacher, and a degreed business professional. I’ve traveled throughout the U.S. and have been to Europe, too, but am greatly fond of western Michigan and its beaches, and the entire Midwest region. My journey is relative to my time, of course. I’m a straight-laced conservative when it comes to education and career, yet a child of the 60’s; a hippie you might say, when it comes to enjoying life. It’s been quite a ride!

My favorite things are my grown children, Ashlee and Krystal, my Colonel hubby, Scott (retired from the military after nearly 30 years but continues to work a civilian job), my mother, Kathy (a pioneer for women who worked in the factory at General Motors from the early 60’s until retirement 27 years later – but who is first and foremost a gentle woman with a strong soul and my forever role model), my pets (Japanese Chin dogs Jake and Lucy, and my kitties, Bliss and Salem), beaches, dragonflies, hummingbirds, and other nature. I might seem complicated at times but truly love the simple things.

My little place in the world, that’s my blog. I’ll be sharing my thoughts about my life, my family, my pets, my job, and how I view the world. I hope you enjoy my stories, my sense of humor, and my insight. This is a chance for us to share that cup of coffee or tea in the morning or afternoon, and reach across the miles that might separate us, and gather close together to catch our breath and a laugh or two. Life is busy. And so are we! So let’s dive in together. And smell the roses, too.

Thanks for dropping by.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Betty White!

I want to be Betty White when I grow up.

Betty turned 90 a few weeks ago, and appeared in a TV special to celebrate the milestone. Instead of slowing down and taking it easy in her Golden Years, Betty has heated up and really gets out there to entertain us and has a great time doing it.

Let’s face it, at this point in her life it’s obviously not about the money. Betty has made enough of that to last a lifetime, no matter how long that ends up being. She smiles coquettishly in the spotlight, quips with genius delivery, even makes sexual innuendos, looks amazingly youthful and beautiful for her age, and is a genuine fireball at 90. And she loves the attention!

I have an Aunt who is turning 80 this May, and she, too, looks amazing, and is a real fireball. But she does not want a mention of the . . . shhh, number 80 this year. Instead of allowing her children and relatives to give her a party to CELEBRATE the years together, she is choosing to forego a family event, and plans to traipse off to Utah to defy her age and ski.  Or maybe she is showing off her age, not sure, but it sure would be nice to enjoy a celebration with my aunt and the family. However, she does not see it that way.

During a recent visit, I asked her why she didn’t want a birthday party, and she got snippy and said, “Why don’t you have one?” I’m not sure what that meant, but it appeared to be a delicate subject, so I dropped it. (I would love for someone to give me a birthday party this year, BTW.)

But, I also understand different strokes for different folks. I remember a few years back when my daughters took me out to celebrate a milestone birthday for me. There we were, in our favorite candlelit Italian restaurant, between the calamari and chowder, when to my complete surprise, one of them pulled from their purse a glittery silver crown with the magic MILESTONE NUMBER magnified in shiny, bold purple glitter for the entire world to see.

“Put it on, Mom!” they exclaimed, as my jaw dropped in disbelief, forcing me to choke on a piece of clam I had just spooned into my mouth to swallow. Yes, I knew how old I was and yet, that number, that giant purple number ending in zero appeared on that crown out of nowhere gleaming like Mt. Everest! And I just couldn’t relate to it. It didn’t seem real. I just didn’t “feel” that “F” word – FIFTY.

After much goading I gave in and put it on, but for just a minute so they could at least take a photo of me in the crown. Still that milestone number seemed bigger than life to me at that point in time. Never wanting to judge myself by time, I don’t want to dwell on age as a measure of how I look or feel, or what I can or cannot do. I just want to be. And do. And keep going!

While cleaning out a box of mementos last week, I stumbled on that milestone birthday crown, with the large magic number, still all shiny and boldly gleaming up top. It doesn’t seem so bad now. In fact, I just might wear that crown on my birthday, well, on a future birthday. Well, maybe in a few years or so, down the road.

And until then, I want to say, Betty White, you rock, lady! And you’re a brilliant role model, but I have years – many years – to grow into being you. God bless you. And God bless my auntie, too.

And I am my aunt’s niece, and Auntie, lady, you rock! I’m so proud of you! And next to Betty White, you’re still a kid. And you can ski. I can’t even do that.

A wise man told me that those who have the most birthdays seem to live longer, so “Happy Milestone Birthday” to each of you – and many more.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Morning Meeting

I am not a morning person.

The alarm went off at 6am this morning so I could make a pot of chicken soup for the Ladies' Auxilliary (LA) / VFW District meeting today; our post was hosting it, which included serving lunch to all. We had to be there by 930 am for the meeting and lunch was to be served around noon. So I got up, got the pot boiling, added the whole chicken, and started chopping up all the goodies to go in it: celery, carrots, mushrooms, and onions.

Once it was all going, I figured I'd lie back down for an hour, and then get up, bathe, and get ready. Scott said he'd make breakfast and call for me at 7:30. A while later, he woke me up and handed me breakfast. The contents of the plate were cold. Oops, looked at the clock and it was after 8! Seems Scott called for me to get up, and I must've answered "Okay" in my sleep, because I had no recollection of it when he told me about it later. 

We had to hustle to get dressed up, and out the door so early, which was painful on a Sunday morning. Sunday is the day of rest, right?  (:   But, we managed it.

I dropped Scott off at our Post with the crockpot of soup and two chocolate cakes I made for the event and set off for the ladies meeting at another building (the American Legion let us use their facilities).

I love the old hall buildings. The floors are well worn, and the ceiling tiles old and sometimes falling down here and there,but there's a warmth and charm and history; if only those walls could talk. There's always a bar to one side, although it was closed during our meeting. The place was bustling with ladies, some in their LA  blue suits, and most of them well over the age of 65.

I admire their passion and commitment to the cause, and the creative ability to find so many ways to squeeze money out of everyone at each meeting! We had tickets for this, tickets for that, and everyone loosened their purse strings and bought strings of tickets. I was asked by our Post Prez to sell the 50/50 raffle tickets,and I loved it. Within 30 minutes, I had sold $170 worth and made many new friends in the process. Fifty - fifty face value to the winner was a prize of $85. My experience, priceless.

I also entered a Valentine centerpiece in the contest but did not place today. Part of my centerpiece contained candy, so I brought it back to the table and consoled myself and those at my table with pink conversation hearts and silver-papered chocolate kisses.

After the meeting, we met the guys at the Post and enjoyed many homemade soups and cakes. It was down-home kind of Sunday in Spencer, Indiana. Mom said they got about five inches of snow or so back home in Grand Rapids (MI) today, but it was sunny and pleasant in Spencer --, inside and out.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sick Jake, part two

Poor Jake was at the vet again today. He had to have blood taken since he’s been having problems with throwing up, and still sick. The vet had told me to stop his liver flavored tablets earlier this week when I reported that he was throwing up. Sure didn’t miss the fight over giving him those tabs!

She asked for a stool sample too, and I didn’t wait until our appointment this morning. I knew that was going to be a daunting task; only thing I can think of that would be worse would be following one of the cats around. So, grabbed a baggie and got that when opportunity struck on Wednesday, then rushed the steamer to the vet’s office. Luckily, it was negative for parasites.

This morning I had Jake in for his 10am. Lucy made sad eyes at us as we left her in the kitchen, and she had been really happy when she saw me get Jake’s leash out at first, because she thought her leash would come out and that we’d go for a little walk. No such luck, Lucy, so sorry little pup.

At the vet's office, Jake sat on my lap and trembled and shook. It wasn’t cold in the vet’s office, but there were dogs barking in the back, and other dogs coming and going in the lobby, and he was nervous. Plus, Jake doesn’t feel good. I knew for sure when the vet took Jake’s temp, and he was running a fever. Poor baby.
The vet assistant weighed Jake; we were surprised to see him down two pounds in two weeks. He's a small dog, and now weighs just over 14 pounds. The vet then had her assistant hold Jake while they took blood out. I stayed by his face, rubbing his little cheeks and looking into his eyes. He remained calm. Getting the blood was much easier than taking the rectal temperature, he sure flinched for that.

“Jake’s cough is back, I noticed it yesterday,” I told the vet. “And he coughed this morning, too,” I continued. The vet started asking me all kinds of questions about the puke, the coughs, what times, how much, etc. And I asked that if Jake needed medicine again, which he did,  that she please not give us the liver flavored tabs. I couldn’t take that again, plus, all the treats Jake got might have brought on pancreatitis, and makes me feel worse that my giving him those medicine tabs in different foods might have triggered another illness.

I was really happy when the vet offered us liquid meds! She sent us on our way, and said she’ll call on Monday with the results. Oh, I hope my boy is okay.  The vet also gave us some tablets to give ½ at bedtime for Jake, to ward off any stomach upsets. They are really tiny, too, so Jake too the piece of pill in a small bit of ham. Yes, that’s the only treat he got.

He was so glad to be home from the vet, and he showed Lucy his blue armband, back from the ordeal. Lucy sniffed him all over, and noticing the “vet smell,” seemed forgiving that she was not invited to go with us. And Jake, well, poor boy, he took his liquid meds easily then he lay down for a nice nap in the sunbeam streaming through the kitchen window; home sweet home, warm and safe in a sunbeam, resting and healing up. Ah, sweet nap.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Signs of Spring!

January is always the longest, coldest, and most "blah" month for me. And although this winter season has been incredibly mild, I'm still tired of dark skies and threat of precipitation, and fears of icy roads after dark.

Alas, this weekend, even with the sleet we had yesterday, which made driving most hazardous, I got a glimpse of spring . . . one that I look forward to every year. Now you might think I spotted a robin, but no, that wasn't it. The sign I received was in black and white and brought a smile to my face: It was an ad for patio furniture in a department store. Now this to me, is a sure sign of spring!

For some reason, just walking into a Target store at this time of year with my daughter, Ashlee, in our heavy winter coats and scarfs, and spotting patio tables, chairs, brightly colored umbrellas, shiny new grills, and planters in bold shades of yellow, turquoise, and orange, just lifts the spirits and lightens the heart, widens our eyes and brings out shouts of elation, "Spring is coming! It's truly coming!" There is light at the end of a dark winter tunnel, and once again, our minds turn to those "other fancies" that only thoughts of spring can provide!

We drop the droopy winter pace and RUN, not walk, over to the displays, and ooh and aah over each one, sitting in the chairs, fondling the unscratched, flowered, plastic table settings, and reminisce about warm times on the deck, of sipping icy beverages and sharing stories and laughs, we bask in the imaginary sunshine.

This mother - daughter ritual of ours is one we long for, hope for, and when it arrives, we realize that yes, spring runs eternal, and brings with it a renewal, a feeling of youth and energy, and visions of tulips, daffodils and the most fragrant hyacinths, yes. And the promise that spring will turn into summer days, with a tan and beach visits for Ashlee and Capri's and dragon flies, hummingbirds, lily pads, and roses for me. Everything is coming up roses, oh, just picture it now!

The promise of spring brings warmth, rejuvenation, and safe travels under sunny skies, if only in our dreams at this time of year, but even if just in our minds, it lightens our load, gives us something positive to think about, and makes us feel good.

So, here's to the promise of spring.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A bitter pill to swallow

For the past week, I've been struggling to give Jake and Lucy pills for being sick. It seems they came down with something over the holiday timeframe, and mostly, Jake but more recently, Lucy, has been sneezing and wheezing and acting a bit under the weather. We really don't go anywhere, so I'm thinking that perhaps that Jake (since Lucy seems to have caught whatever it is from him) must've put his nose or mouth on the vet's floor when they were in to have their nails trimmed. It was shortly after that time that I noticed symptoms in Jake.

And have you ever had to give a dog a pill?

Well, the vet gave me these huge liver flavored tablets for them to try. "Dogs just love these," the vet said, "They should take them really well." So off home we went. And yes, day one, that first dog treat tablet went down with a fast "Smack, chump, gulp!" and I breathed a sigh of relief as Scott and I headed off to a conference for the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary in Indianapolis. My friend, Sue Anne, was going to watch the dogs while we were away.

A day and a half later, we arrived home late Saturday night to find two happy dogs greeting us with wagging tails and excitement, a note from Sue Anne letting us know that the first pills had gone down well but the second time she tried it, no such luck.  I read the note, then glanced down at the pups, noticing little bits of broken liver pill tablet smeared and busted on the floor. Oh here, we go, I thought.

So I got out a piece of cheese, smushed some busted pill in it, and gave it to Jake. He eagerly took the cheese, swallowed the bits of orange creamy delight and then "Spffft" dropped the remnant of the liver tablet on the floor. He then looked at me as if to say, "Yeah, the cheese is good but I don't like that liver pill and here is what I'm doing with it, blech!"  So, I grabbed the remnant and attempted to force him to swallow it, holding his little doggy chin and prying my finger behind the tab fragment down his throat. It went down, but it took a few tries and neither of us enjoyed the barbaric drama.

Next morning, a whole large fresh liver tablet awaited us. And Lucy was showing symptoms, so she too would get in on the "fun." Over the next three days, I tried many things. I broke the pill up, I ground the pill down, covered it with cheese, nuked it in the microwaved and served it up; this worked for one day. Both dogs chewed it up, but the second day of trying, no, they had figured me out. So, I tried cooking and serving the pills in chorizo, and that worked. But how healthy is that for the dog?

I called the vet and explained what was going on, and asking if they had liquid medicine instead. "No, we don't," she said, "Well, couldn't you just give them chorizo every day with their pill?" Well, I supposed I could, but it's wrong on so many levels, not to mention a pain to cater to the discerning dog palette. And then the secretary suggested I try peanut butter. "My dogs love those liver-flavored tablets," she exclaimed, "But I have big dogs." 

I looked at my small dogs and noticed they were listening in on my conversation with the vet. Good thing they didn't hear her tell me about the peanut butter. As the dogs watched, I went through the pill crushing ritual, retrieved the not often used jar of peanut butter from the cupboard and smeared the pill remnants thoroughly, then placed two wee dishes on the floor. Both dogs sniffed and went for the peanut butter, smacking in the gooey thickness, and for the most part, it went down. Then to the water bowl.

The following day, the peanut butter "trick" didn't work. So, in frustration, I went back to chorizo. This time, they turned their noses up at the chorizo. "Something about it just doesn't smell right," Jake said with his eyes as he got bored quickly with the dish, and walked away to go lie down on his dog pillow. Lucy sniffed and walked away too. No go. So there sat the chorizo bowl most of the day, growing hard and ugly in the wee dish on the kitchen floor with wasted liver tablets in it.

Not wanting to force their little mouths open, especially with Lucy, since her tiny flat mouth makes it nearly impossible to do that, and I didn't want to hurt them besides. Hurting them to get them well; there's an irony in there that I just don't want to deal with. So, I got out a piece of Virginia ham lunchmeat from the fridge and put bits of pill in a piece, and to my surprise, Jake swallowed it easily! Then another! Then another! In four sections, the pill was gone! And, the floor was clean, so Jake did not spit it out this time! Lucy would not play this game. So with her, I went back to the cheese trick, which somewhat worked. She got some cheese pill down.

The next day, I got out the lunchmeat, and guess what? Jake ate the lunchmeat but spit the pill on the floor. I tried again; same results. Same input, same output. And Lucy didn't go near the bowl with nuked cheese. So, what now? I guess I'll have to try ice cream tomorrow. Yes, that's it; that's the ticket: Who would turn down liver-flavored vanilla ice cream?  (: