Thursday, November 7, 2013

Word of the Week

I confess, I was feverishly seeking out a word of the week with a more autumnal meaning, but apparently there are very few synonyms for autumn.  You have fall, harvest, equinox...and not much else.  Oh well, so much for an inspiring vocabulary this fall.  I guess we'll have to adapt our weekly word to fit into our harvestly mold.  This week's word is:

dapple: n. a spot or mottled marking, usually occurring in clusters.

One can also use the verb form of the word, meaning 'to mark or become marked with spots.'  If any of us ever contract the chicken pox, I'll make sure to use the verb form.

On to today's sentences.

The air was dappled with color as the nippy wind blew up through the large, leafy tree.   (This has been happening all week.  We've enjoyed watching the leaves fly through the air during school time every day!)

Cynthia woke, stretched, then stared in horror as she spotted the fresh dapple of acne, prominently adorning her nose.  (Alas, poor Cynthia will spend the next hour of her existence trying to camoflauge the dapple, which will only irritate both her skin and her siblings, who also need the bathroom.  Thank goodness we're not at that stage of parenting yet!)

Add your dappled sentence to the mix!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Word of the Week: It has returned

Well, it may be more realistic of me to create a word of the month section, but I'll give a weekly post a go.  While recently rereading some of my previous postings, I remembered how incredibly fun it was to do the word of the week, as well as how useful it was.  In fact, it was just the other day that Andy asked me to elaborate on the word schadenfreude.

The word of this week is 

crepuscule [kri-PUHS-kyool] n. twilight, dusk.

Gaze with me through the crepuscule at Mount Vesuvius.  This painting is by Abraham Pether.  It's called, A View Of Mount Vesuvius Erupting.  It would have gotten your attention more if crepuscule were included in the title, but after all, Pether was a painter, not a grammarian.

This strikes me as a very fitting addition for this autumnal week.  Besides, who isn't excited by a word that has a guttural burst of <<PUHS!>> in its midsection?

Okay, enough with the abdominal puns.  I promise to move on.

There actually is another pronunciation, but it isn't nearly as fun.  Perhaps the other pronunciation would sound a little less scabby, but nevertheless...

Here we go for the sentences.  Have I mentioned that my kids look forward to my sentences with each new spelling list?  That's why I can no longer deprive my loyal audience.  Stop laughing, both of you.

She peered into the crepuscule, hoping to see the silhouette of her beloved's car humming into the drive.   (Yes, many days this is quite true, and on a particularly harsh day at home with the children could possibly involve a slight twitch and strange look about the eyes.)

The crepuscule greeted them briskly, as they closed the door on the poor teenage babysitter's silent screams.  (This one doesn't usually happen actually.  The screams are usually excited child screams whenever we leave.  Little do they know, we are more excited than they are.)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Baby in the Baseline

(A story for my Scott, to commemorate the many evenings at the ballpark with the little girls in tow!)

It was early in the evening's game, and I was all covered up, from head to toe with my catcher's pads.  I creaked along to home plate, where I bent over, ready to catch the first ball headed my way. I could hear my sisters nearby, giggling and singing to Mom.

Strike one.

I threw the ball back to the pitcher and knelt down again in the dust.

Strike two.

The ball nearly hit me this time.  I adjusted my mask and got ready for the next pitch.

Crack!  My mask flew off and I shielded my eyes against the sun.  Phew!  It was only a foul ball.  I grinned over to third base where my good friend Austin was ready to defend...and I saw something I never thought I'd see when I came to the field tonight.  There was a baby--my baby sister--crawling quickly to third base!

The pitcher threw the ball too high but I hardly noticed, because I was watching my baby crawl past Austin's waiting glove and crouched legs.

"Ma ma!  Ma ma! Ma maaaa!"  she squealed.

I was so scared that someone would run over her I began to move forward and landed squarely in the path of the batter's bat.  Onto my helmet it clunked, knocking me right off my feet.  I saw the warmly glowing sun seep between the cage of my mask and felt the dust settle on my face and teeth.  The coach was shouting to me, "Are you okay?".

"Yes."  I answered, as I stood up.  Then I remembered what had frightened me enough to walk straight into the batter--my sister!  Where was she?

I could hear her groaning from somewhere on the field, "MMMMmmmmmm.   Ga.  Ga.  Ga.   MMMmmmmm...".  I jumped up and squinted at Austin on third.  No baby.  He looked back at me, shaking his head, wondering why I kept staring at him.  I tried to mouth, baby.  BA-BY!

"I'm not a baby, Scott!"  he grumbled to himself.  He kicked third base before he turned his attention back to the batter.

I felt terrible.  I hadn't meant to call my friend a baby, but where had baby Megan gone?  The groaning of before I couldn't hear any more over the noise of the cheering.  The pitcher threw another high ball.

"Where is she?"  I whispered to myself as I threw the ball back to the pitcher.  Then I spotted her again.  She had crawled over second base,  hit it two times with her chubby hand, then continued crawling toward first.

The pitcher threw a fast ball straight into the strike zone.  Just as the batter hit the ball, baby Megan tagged up on first base, laughing and blowing spit bubbles the whole time.  She sat down on first base and began to clap as the ball rolled toward her.  Bryson, who was guarding first base slammed his cleat down on the base just as Megan crawled off.  She was really crawling now.

I took of my catcher's mask and called to her, "Come here.  Come here, little Meggie."  The first base coach thought I was crazy, talking to him like that!  What he didn't know was that my little sister was crawling at top speed, heading home.

The batter was tagged out at first, thank goodness, and just before the next batter came up to the plate, Meggie planted her dust-stained knees on home plate and grabbed my legs.  She stood up and said, "Da Da Da!".  Then she screamed in happiness.  I picked her up, and the crowd cheered for the mini base runner..  Meggie began to clap for herself again and say all kinds of things I didn't understand, and the umpire yelled, "She's safe!".

Meggie liked to slap her hand on my pads, and she smiled and opened her mouth to give my nose a big, wet smooch,  "aahhh-MWAH!".  Coach came up to me and ruffled my hair.

He said with a smile, "That's the first time I've EVER seen a runner give the catcher a kiss on the nose!".

I had never seen that before either, and I hoped that I never would again!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Glimpse of the Man

Our lives are currently overrun with batting helmets, baseball schedules and even a catcher's mask on occasion.  It's been a bit busy, but very enjoyable, especially for the little old man, who of course spends most of his off-school hours practicing, practicing the batting and catching skills he so wants.  I know this is a real shift to boyhood, this fascination with sports, but recently I caught a glimpse of the man inside.

It was totally unrelated to his baseball fantasies, in fact.

For the last year and a half, he has been begging to try pushing our very heavy, bagged push mower around our somewhat substantial yard.  I've resisted.  He's 'helped' push in the past, and it usually makes the already difficult task even more cumbersome.  This year I gave in a bit and let go of the mower handle.

I watched as his tanned, resolute arms struggled and exerted.  He broke a sweat and tried with all the muscles in his lean little form, and he pushed the mower.  No matter how mother henly I clucked next to him, wanting to save him from this sharp corner or that little slope, the determined boy finished the front lawn by himself.  I was shocked and promptly rewarded him with a Pepsi from Daddy's forbidden stash.

The next mowing I figured he'd remember how hard it was and shy away from any involvement.  I was very mistaken.  As I laced my mowing shoes, he got ready and even beat me outside, pulling out the mower to get started even faster.  I asked my little guy why he was so excited to work, of all things.  His reply brought tears to my eyes.

He wants to mow to get strong enough to mow the whole lawn every time, so I wouldn't have to work so hard; so I could spend some time doing something enjoyable.

And that's what it means to be a real man.  Thoughtfulness.  Self-sacrifice.  Doing something hard to spare the ones you love.

Some day I'll hand him over to a lucky young lady, and I'll remember this day.  I'll remind him of what it means to be a real man.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Quote On Happiness

I am casually reading through Philip Yancey's book Where Is God When It Hurts?, an exploration of pain and its purpose.  Here is a quite a truism which I ran across this morning:

     "If I spend my life searching for happiness through drugs, comfort, and luxury, it will elude me.  'Happiness recedes from those who pursue her.'  Happiness will come upon me unexpectedly as a by-product, a surprising bonus for something I have invested myself in.  And, most likely, that investment will include pain.  It is hard to imagine pleasure without it."  (Chapter 4)

Although he is specifically speaking of physical pain, the quote is quite applicable for any type of pain.  We all go through difficult times, some of us live in pain of a physical or emotional nature constantly, but it is a comfort to know that the hard times sharpen our senses to the real joys and rewards of life.  God's consolation for the valley is the sharp contrast of the mountain top.

Monday, September 2, 2013

To Kick Off The Season...

I was in Michigan recently because, contrary to popular belief, mother-in-laws can be cherished friends.  In the early morning, I took a drive past a local high school.  The tick-tacking of a drum cadence caught my attention.  The tenor drums ponged and pinged, and the bass drums thunked as I drove by. (That brought back fall memories to me.  Every fall my high school marching band would terrorize the neighborhoods surrounding the school with their early morning practices.  Nothing like whistles and drums for a great wake-up call.)
I waited at a light and turned to see a herd of young men in full game gear stretching and sprinting, readying themselves for practice on the dewy field.  A cool morning breeze floated through my car and I thought of my hubby, and the scores of careers that he had seen start on these Michigan football fields. 

It is practically fall, the season of cool breezes and football and leaves.  Let's hunker down and prep the fire place for the months to come.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


It's been less than a week since we've been done with school.

We've worked hard to accomplish this goal, and to be free to enjoy summer in all its splendor.

How then can it be possible that my little old man asks me for school work to do every day?  I've explained to him how exciting it is to have no school work, and he seems thrilled every time.  And yet...around the house I consistently find papers he has privately assigned himself.  His stashes are littered with penmanship practice, arithmetic problems and reading books.

A love of learning is a beautiful thing.  It's just kind of humorous that he hides his interest so stealthily, honing his skills in secret.  Perhaps he doesn't want to burst my bubble, but I'm on to him nonetheless.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Scott's Interview

This was officially a preschool interview, but it'll count!  Here is Scott's take on my queries.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be--hmm--something special.  A sailor.  They look out for treasure and sailboats.  That's cool.

How old will you be when you are grown up?
Maybe when I'm 49.

If you could do anything you wanted for the whole day, what would you do?
I would look for treasure--I mean I won't look for it, I'll sail a boat.  Remember how you turn the boat?  Like use things to turn like this way.

Then I'll do painting, like paint a house or yard or slide or playground or cup.

What do you love most about your family?
Mommy and Daddy and Cara and Allie.  I love you in my heart.

Scott's Favorite Recipe:
I like toast.  You put it in the thing that pops it up and it will pop it up for you and then you put butter on it and then you can eat it.  And cereal.  You get it out and pour cereal in there and pour some milk in there and then you take a spoon and eat it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Kindergarten Traditions

Scott manfully colored and figured his way through kindergarten, officially finishing yesterday.  Cara has yet to finish up first grade.  As I am slowly trying to wrap my mind around all the grading and sorting coming my way, I somehow ran across something from last year that I meant to include on the blog.  It's a kindergarten tradition of sorts...the interview.

I asked the kids the following questions and recorded their profound replies for posterity last year as Cara finished up her first school year.

Kindergarten Interview with Cara:

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a teacher, 'cause it's fun to teach and teachers are really smart and have a nice brain.

How old will you be when you are grown up?
I want to be 10.

If you could do anything you wanted for the whole day, what would you do?
Science.  I really forget, but I know science is a healthy thing, so science.  Mmm-hmmm.

What do you love most about your family?
'Cause they love me.  'Cause you've been kind to me and Daddy been going to work for me and our whole family.

Tell me how to make your favorite recipe.
It's homemade noodles.  It's really easy.  Like put the noodles in a pan or something like that and kind of put some food in on it and stuff and give it a little mix and stuff.  It's the best meal that I like.  Eat it with chicken and stuff like that.

Stay tuned for Scott's interview tomorrow!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Marriage: An Object Lesson

Well, the other day I had a "Eureka!" moment while doing laundry of all things.  I went into that creepy, crawly, overly-crammed room we call the laundry room and began switching the load from the washer to the dryer when I noticed another chore to take care of.  I can't be the only one with this chronic problem.  My washer is filthy.  It could majorly use some TLC on the inside and out.  Shockingly enough I noticed that what used to be the space between my washer and dryer is now pretty much nonexistent, due to them shimmying around multiple times a day, I assume.  To make matters worse, they are so close that they've started collecting quite a pile of dust between them, right where there used to be edges.  It's almost as if the edges don't exist any more, or perhaps that's more of a mental thing for me.  Naturally, I left the mess for another time.  (In all fairness, I did need to dash back out to the dining room to continue school.  )

Now that I've completely grossed you out as to the state of my laundering equiptment, let me get to the point.  Seeing those machines all cozy and unlovely reminded me of marriage, or perhaps what marriage should be.  There's no doubt that a washer and dryer have very distinct functions, I mean, one washes and the other dries the clothes, right? But their purpose and goal is so much the same that although what they do is different, you almost forget to think of them independently.

My day to day activities vary widely from my husband's, but they are just as important.  We are working toward the same goal of raising a godly family and helping to build up His church.  We are interconnected, he and I.  What he does would be without meaning without what I do.  I wouldn't have the ability financially to do what I do if he didn't do what he does to provide and shelter us.

I find through the years, we have gotten more alike in some ways, but what we are doesn't change so much in the essentials.  I mean, he'll listen to me discuss hair ribbons for the girls but he wouldn't be caught dead thinking about them during his lunch break at work.  There's also a vice versa ditto here with college football, I might add.

When we get married we begin life together.  Through the years working together, we grow closer (and sometimes a little less attractive), but we work on toward the same goals through ups and downs until one without the other is hardly even useful.  Our identities become wrapped up in each other, different as we are.

That's a good thing.  That's getting through the dirty work of life together.  That's real love...having a purpose...together.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

More Words of Wisdom...


I could have sworn this was a Jane Austen quote...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Draw Your Own Conclusions...

This is a true story.  A few days ago, Scott and I were chatting in the kitchen.  The girls were all asleep, and we had just walked the dog together.  It's kind of a rarity in our household to have one on one time, so I was enjoying hearing all about his dream of the previous night and his super funny, three stooges-esque jokes.  As I filled up Oscar's bowl with dog food, Scott paused, then noted, "I don't know how doggies can like to eat that food, Mom".

"Really?  Why is that?" I asked, not yet alarmed.

Brace yourself...

He answered, "It looks and smells really good, but it tastes terrible."

Say it isn't so!

My shocked expression must have communicated my suspicions.  His reddening face and shifty eyes didn't calm them.

I'm not exactly sure why I was surprised, considering some of his previous dietary adventures, but, there you have it.  It just goes to show, the little old man will eat most anything.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Yikes! How true is this?

"I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.  The world will have a generation of idiots."

--Albert Einstein

Do you ever pass a day without seeing someone 'talk' while staring at their phone?  I miss eye contact.  What a lost art that simple form of respect is!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Not Helping

I recently read an article that piqued my interest.  I've been turning into quite the hot tea enthusiast this year.  For some reason it just sounds good.

You know how they say that you crave foods that are full of vitamins and minerals you need?  Yes, well, this definitely came to mind when the article I read spoke of the many health benefits of tea.  Apparently it helps lower your blood pressure and sharpen mental acuity.

Let me just say, trying to homeschool with four children is not a blood pressure lowering occupation.  In fact, there have been many days when I've been questioning my 'career choices'.  Also, the more children you have the less mental sharpness you have...or is it temporary?  I'm not exactly sure.  These days I'm just happy if I can make it successfully through two or three simple sentence when I'm speaking to someone.  Anyway, apparently I'm very deficient in these areas, hence the craving of tea!

My only question now is, why isn't it working?  Rats.  Maybe it's just coincidence.  Or maybe I just like to warm up when it's cold outside.  Who knows.  But by all means, readers, if you see a sudden improvement in my sentence complexity, let me know.  It must be the tea.  Yes, this has been another insightful health article, brought to you by the genius editor of your beloved Crazy Creative Magazine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When It Clicks...

I have to say, there are many exciting 'aha!' moments in homeschooling.   One of the best parts of teaching your children is that you see and can appreciate every step of their learning.  Cara is now starting her last quarter of first grade, and Scott is in his last quarter of kindergarten.  We've come to a new stage in reading.

For the last month or so, Cara has begun reading chapter books independently.  She has devoured twelve American Girl books, two Ramona books, Heidi (abridged), Treasure Island (abridged), the first of the Boxcar Children books, and five or six other miscellaneous chapter books.  She'll read through an entire book per day.  I'm astonished!  She can actually tell me intricate details of the plots.  It seems like this stage has come out of nowhere.  Suddenly she can read anything.  I have to say, this has brought back so many memories of the books I read during elementary.  It has also had the added bonus of fewer toys laying around the house for me to trip on.  With all that reading, she has hardly played with toys lately.

And as for Scott, yesterday during quiet time, he came out of the room and blurted out to me, "Mom!  Can you believe that the New York Yankees bought Babe Ruth for the astounding amount of $125,000?".  Yeah, he's doing great, too.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ellen Returns!

Okay, loyal few, I've edited and formatted my other complete story, "Ellen Bartelle, Woman of Mystery".  You can scroll down the sidebar and click on it to reread.  I definitely have to write another adventure for my famous over-indulgent Seattle detective!  Hope you enjoy the read!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Real Story of Cincinnati Chili, Part 10

Fear not, dear readers, Hannistina is about to make yet another stunning entrance.  To catch up from last time, check out Part 9.

Chapter 5: The Other Woman 

Two weeks had gone by, and all was well.  Hannistina's chili was a hit in the bakery, Reedsler was pushing their Dad to help with Hannistina's shop, and then 
there was Dudley.  Wonderful Dudley, with his shy smile and outgoing waistline 
had captivated her thoughts.  

"How odd..." she pondered, "How odd that I haven't ever noticed how handsome he 
really is."  For alas, his beauty of character cast him in a rosy glow for 
Hannistina.  Instead of the balding, plump, perpetually sweaty man which most 
people saw, Hannistina saw only the beauty of his chocolate colored eyes, his 
finely chiseled nose, his even teeth...he was the true man of her dreams. 

She was beginning to map out a scheme to win her heart's desire.  Menus poured 
forth out of her imagination, she'd taken to wearing pastel lip gloss, she had 
even bought him an apron with a Hershey's kiss on it, hoping he'd take the hint, 
to no avail.  She had blushed when she gave it to him, but he hadn't noticed.  
Had he truly forgiven her?  Was he no longer interested?  Or was there something 
holding him back?  She had no idea, but her determination knew no bounds. 

It was in this frame of mind that Hannistina skipped out her door toward 
Dudley's shop, arms full of bread pans she had borrowed as an excuse to come 
over yesterday.  She smiled to herself as her carefully hairsprayed curls 
ornamented her shoulders.  

"I'll tell him my bread didn't turn out and ask him to show me how to knead properly," she plotted "then I'll have lots of time to tell him about my new plans for the shop."  One more happy sigh brought her to the bakery door.  With some difficulty she maneuvered the door open, using her hip to swing open some entrance space.  She entered with a small giggle, then stopped dead in her tracks, for there, drinking iced mocha with Dudley was an unfamiliar woman.  What's more, Dudley was grinning and laughing with her!  

Hannistina's heart stopped, tears welled at her eyes, and she was unable to move 
or speak.  The woman, whose pin-straight hair she had been staring at, slowly 
turned toward Hannistina, unflinchingly locking eyes with her.  She carefully 
examined the curls, bread pans, plain jeans, and sensible tennis shoes before 
the terrible smirk snuck onto her lipstick slathered lips.  Her shadowed eyes 
held a glint of triumph. 

Hannistina heard the crash before she even knew the pans had slipped from her hands.  The clatter resounded in the bakery and every head snapped to attention.  All the eyes joined the eyes of the unknown women in silent judgment.  Only Dudley seemed sympathetic.  He jumped to her rescue.  "Oh, Hannistina, let me help you with that.  This is all my fault, I should have opened the door for you.  Oh, here let me get that . . . "  His comforting words began to sooth her embarrassment.  

"No, you were busy Dudley.  I'm sorry that I've interrupted."  Hannastina baited for an explanation.

"Yes, I was meeting from my good friend from Pastry School.  You know, I had I crush on her back then.  Let me introduce you to the famous Miss Praline DeVine.  You know, she is considering an offer from Food Network to televise her local show, 'The Hand That Sets The Table'."  Dudley turned with his face aglow to introduce Miss Praline, and Hannastina realized that his crush had not ended in Pastry School.

Miss Praline DeVine sat with her perfect posture and her gleaming hair glistening in the glint of the morning light.  She gracefully stood and took some of the pans from Dudley's hands, "Here let me be of service to you, Dudley."  Her smile made Dudley's rosy glow flame to a flaming rose color.  She turned and said, "Why, you must be Hannistina Hershey.  Dudley has told me all about you.  Only you could turn every head with your entrance.  My your hair is beautiful.  Your curls are refreshingly innocent, the picture of youth."

Hannistina struggled to find a fitting reply, "It's so nice to meet you.  Dudley has told me nothing of you," was what came out of her mouth. 

Jeepers!  Now what will she do?  Striking at her curls was such a low blow.  Stay tuned for the next intriguing plot twist!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Attention Readers: FYI

I just thought my faithful few ought to know that I've decided to transfer my installment stories to one place to make it easier to go back and read them all at once.  Of course, I'm probably the only person alive interested in doing this, but just in case...

Here is the first story I wrote, Treacherous Waters.  It's my not-too-long modern Pygmalian story, and after rereading it, I find it completely hilarious.  Maybe when I'm old and gray and have nothing better to do, I'll expand it into a full novel for my own amusement.  Anyway, to read the story in full, scroll down the left sidebar to the "Pages" label and click on Treacherous Waters.  It won't take much time to read, and the random one liners and former words of the week will tickle your fancy.

PS--This story is about as romantic as I get in my writing, so don't get too emotionally involved!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Year Ago Today...

A year ago today we were at the hospital waiting for Andy to be hooked up for his surgery.  His Mom and Dad were there with us in the waiting room, while my parents were roughing it with the three children.  Of course baby Megan was not yet born, and she was making my life all the more wonderful with morning sickness.

I remember the anesthesiologist chatting with the nurse about his five boys after they found out how many kids we had.  He was big and burly and anything but delicate looking.  It seemed so odd that he worked with needles and thin little vials of medicine.  

We watched ESPN while they did all Andy's blood work and paper work.  Seeing them bag up his clothes and struggle on with the leg compression stockings made it seem so real somehow.

We waited; his parents came in.

We said goodbye.

They wheeled him through the double doors, conscious (it takes a lot to knock him out).

The next time I saw him was that night in recovery.  The first thing he said was "I missed you."

This morning he's been wrestling with the kids, laying on the couch, and he successfully put on his own socks.  It took a long time of pain and healing, but it was so worth it!

Thank you Dr. Bohinski for your skill and dedication, and thank you, Lord, for making my husband able to walk and bend and play with the kids again.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Real Story of Cincinnati Chili, Part 9

I'm sure you've all bitten your fingernails to nubs by now in anticipation of this new installment.  Wait no more, my fingernail-less friends.  If you want to catch up on the previous installment, click Part 8.   PS...this is my other favorite part of the story...

Chapter 4:  Reedsler Steps In

Her heart had wings.  She all but flew out the door of the shop and to the curb. There are certain moments in your life when you are so happy you can only express yourself through a hop or a dance.  Thus it was that Hannistina's nimble feet began twirling her in circles as eloquently as Fred Astaire had twirled Ginger Rogers in the lovely old movies which were as regular a habit for her as Weight Watchers enrollments.  Her exuberance got the better of her, and she continued spinning across the street, singing a somewhat out of tune version of "My Favorite Thing.

On and on she went, spinning and singing, raising her hands up to the marshmallowy clouds. 

"Warm paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite....".  

A piercing scream ripped through the bakery-scented air.  Tires squealed to a halt just inches from the largest poodle on Hannistina's pajama top.  There they stood staring at each other, Hannistina and that strangely familiar car, then he stepped out. 
"Uh-huh," (he spit out his gum right there in the middle of the street) "This kind of thing is exactly why Dad sent me out here."  

Hannistina had faintly heard the voice over the loud tango of her overwhelmed heart, and recognized him instantly.  It was Reedsler, her baby brother.  He was the family "babysitter".  Anytime a family member started acting erratic, he was sent to spy on them and report back to Dad.  Hannistina groaned.  How could she have let things get this far out of control? 

He stepped over to her. "So, uh, do I get a hug or should I just pretend  
I'm on "Dancing with the Stars" along with you?"  He reiterated his point with his high pitched giggle, ending with a small snort.  It was the first of many. 

"You can either join in or get lost!"  Hannistina playfully put her hands on her hips and tossed her head back.  "You have a reputation of being a killjoy, and I don't want any of that around here." 

"Why would I want to join your little circus?"  Reedsler shook his head, and teased back,  "You never fail to draw a crowd."  

Hannistina looked at the crowd gathering across the street at the Bonmuffin Bakery.  She was in too good a mood to care.  She started to ask Reedsler in, but remembering the disaster inside, she refrained.  Instead she taunted him, "I suppose that you brought that raging appetite with you Reedy.",  knowing that the pet name would send him into a mild rage. 

Instead of getting angry like he used to, he laughed and shot back "I never leave home without it!"  

Realizing that she would not get the upper hand the old fashioned way, she 
decided to appeal to that raging appetite of his.  "Well I have about as much in the house to cook as I have to wear, so unless you want to eat fluffy poodle 
pajamas for dinner, will you run to the grocery and get us some supplies?" 

"You ran out of food?" he exclaimed loudly, "This situation is much worse than Dad thought.  I will be back in a jiffy." 

"Don't hurry!", she called after him as he sped down the street.  She knew 
that she had gotten rid of him for an hour or two.  He would not shop at the 
little mom and pop shop down the block.  He would drive the twenty minutes to 
the nearest Wal-Mart.  Reedsler did not get the charm of her small town.  She 
looked across the street at the gawking bystanders and waved.  She knew she 
appeared ludicrous, but at the moment she was still glowing from the weight 
that Dudley had lifted from her shoulders.  She gathered herself, knowing that she only had an hour or two to create a miracle inside her little home.  Throwing one more wave to the crowd across the street, she tossed her hair and hurried inside with renewed enthusiasm. 
"It is amazing what and hour and a half can do when you set your mind to it," 
Hannistina thought as she surveyed her hastily cleaned home.  "He won't think 
to look in the closets, anyway." 

Hannistina smiled to herself.  She was amazed how happy and content she now 
was, thanks to her Dudley.  I mean, her friend Dudley.  Her cheeks reddened.  Could it be that she has really learned to care for Dudley?  She thought of his 
short stocky frame and balding head...they had always stood in the way of her 
wanting to get to know him more, but now she only thought of the smile of forgiveness beneath his badly bruised forehead.  She had certainly learned to respect and appreciate him; who knows what the future would bring.  Her lips turned up into a satisfied look, while she folded her hands near her chin, lost in thoughts of him...

The door burst open and Reedsler entered, laden down with Walmart bags, his miniature poodle yipping at his heels. It was Reedsler, the poodle lover, who had given her the pajamas last Christmas.

"Hey, Mona Lisa, wipe that stupid daydream out of your head and give me a hand here," he demanded without a hint of chivalry.  Hannistina sighed.  Compared 
to Reedsler, Dudley certainly was a gentleman.  

"Don't you think you need to learn some manners?", Hannistina replied as she 
moved to help him. 

"Manners don't get you anywhere in this world sweetie,"  he taunted, "what you 
need is a direct approach to get you what you want." 

"Well, since the direct approach is what you suggest, then I will let you know 
directly that I am not cooking tonight." 

"What, you send me all the way for groceries without the intention of cooking 
them for me!  This is cruel and unusual punishment.",  he whined.

"We are going out tonight, my treat."  She knew that he was not above being 
bought.  "I am going to take you to my favorite bakery, and then we'll check out 
the shop next door.  I am thinking about opening my new store there." 

"Oh, you have a potential space for your little bon-bon shop now, do you?" Reedsler's continuing taunts were beginning to annoy Hannastina.  

Hannastina answered, "Okay Reedsler, if you are really here to help me, can we 
draw a truce?  I really could use your input.  You have a great eye for a deal 
and despite your ability to annoy your older siblings, you are really good at 
helping Dad with even his most difficult clients.  You can help me here, if 
you'll give it a shot." 

"Are you really going to try to open a shop?  You know Dad really wants you 
back in the family business.  When you said that you were going to take a break 
from accounting, he was sure that you would be back in a month or two.  It's 
been a year.  You moved out here to the middle of nowhere and we've been waiting 
for you to play the part of the prodigal son when your cash runs out, but now 
your talking about opening your own shop.  Come on sis, Dad . . . well we all 
want you to come back and join the family."  For Reedsler this speech was 
monumental, not one jest or poke was present.  

Hannistina knew she must choose her words carefully, so as not to ruin this 
moment.  "For one, I was a good accountant, so I saved and invested well.  I 
never had to spend much because I still lived with Mom and Dad.  Secondly, I 
really love cooking.  I learned that when I was working in the firm.  I would 
stress all day in the office and come home frazzled and frayed.  When I got 
home, I was so tired that I couldn't think, but Mom was sick, so somebody had to 
cook dinner.  That was hard on all of us, so I did my best to pitch in.  All 
those years that Mom did everything for everybody, and it was my turn to pay her 
back a little.  I learned that I loved the kitchen.  By the time I had dinner on 
the table, I was relaxed.  The stress dissipated with the steam of each cooking 
dish.  Now I know that I can use my love of cooking and my ability with numbers 
and make this work.  I am not leaving the family, I just need to make my own way 
in this world.  You know, I didn't leave for another continent, I am only an 
hour away from Mom and Dad's house.  Now that Mom is better, you all really 
could visit more often." 

Reedsler had listened to her careful explanation.  He had watched and let her 
passionate words reach her soul.  "I didn't know that you were unhappy in the 
firm.  I just thought you were burnt out from working all day and then going 
home to take care of the house and Mom and Dad." 

"Mom's cancer took a toll on all of us, and I was burnt out, but no more than 
Dad.  I just found out that I need to do my own thing.  I need to find my way.  
When Mom got her clean bill of health, I knew that I needed to take some time 
and sort things out in my head.  Hey, the groceries are all away!  It's funny 
how fast two people can put things away, even when they are talking.  Let's go 
to the bakery.  I'll tell you more about my plans over dinner!" 
Stay tuned, the next installment is called "The Other Woman".  That should give Hannistina something to eat chocolate about.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Pa, Not A Tall Tale

My Pa is so full of interest and charm,
He recently tried to cut off one arm.

His mind is with humor and oddity hung,
and you barely notice he's missing one lung.

We all see his personality from afar,
except that one guy who hit him with his car.

As a young man  they thought him quite weird,
for the simple fact that he was wearing a beard.

He has been known to come home with a monkey,
his dirty socks are incredibly funky.

One important fact is striking this morning,
I'd better be sure to issue a warning.

Any time Pa makes a sandwich of onion,
all, young and old, had better get run-ion.

Yes, I know it's Valentine's Day and this is perfectly unromantic of me to post this.  My Pa is coming for a quick visit today, though, and I just couldn't resist.  Besides, my Mom will read this and get to think of all his charms while she's celebrating her Valentine's Day at home without him today.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wrong Song, Right Message

My Allie is starting to be into singing...especially now that she's potty-training.  There's nothing merrier than hearing a toddler belt it out from the 'throne room', little short legs swinging with vigor.  Her new favorite is "Praise Him, Praise Him, All Ye Little Children".

Here's how she sings it..."Praise Him, Praise Him, all ye little children, Daddy loves me, Daddy loves me..." etc.

No, she's not singing it right, but she IS right.  Her Daddy does love her.  Every mischievious cell in her little curly-haired being.  I can't help but smile when I hear her spirited rendition echoing out from the can.  It's cute, but I'm so thankful it's true!

A loving Daddy is one of the most important things a little girl needs.  (And I should know...I have one too!)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Shining

You know, there are some people in life that just have a way of doing things that  My Dad has always been one of those people.  Is it just his Polish heritage that causes this continual one-upping effect?  Anything most people can do, he can do weirder (or clumsier).

Most of the time, we just stand back and watch whatever phenomenon he's creating with a combination of wonder and amusement.  We have always previously just kind of exempted his health exploits from this exceptionalism, however we were apparently wrong to do so.

Fairly recently, my Dad had to go in for another PET scan.  It was of concern considering how many recent bouts with various cancers he's had.  We were all a little nervous to get the results.  Come to find out, his cancer doctor was nervous to give him the results--although not for the usual reasons.

There was a shining glow shown in the scan, but it was not in the stomach as was expected.  That was great news for us, but how is an immigrant cancer doctor supposed to explain where the glowing WAS coming from?

He evidently managed to pull it off rather calmly.  His face didn't crack as he informed my father that the only glowing was coming from one of his buttocks.  Not both, just one.

How can this happen?  Do people really get cancer of the you-know-what?  If they do, is there an amputation option available?  Do they make prosthetics for that kind of thing or do you just have to resort to stuffing your back pocket with an oversized wallet?

I wonder if the cancer doctor went home and told his wife about breaking this particular news.  It must be memorable, I mean, how many people do you know that returned from their PET scan results appointment not crying, not thanking God in relief, but giggling.

Apparently it's just inflammation of the one side from who knows what.  We're awfully glad my Dad's going to be fine...and how nice of him to provide us such amusement.  He is now, officially, the butt of all our jokes.

Thanks, Pa, for always being the one in our family to light the way.  Your shining example is an inspiration...also kind of a freak of nature.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Real Story of Cincinnati Chili, Part 8

Well now, it hasn't been nearly as long between installments, so I'm sure you could just scroll down to review, but for those of you who want to make life more difficult, here's the link to Part 7.

Ah, Hannistina, there's nothing that makes you feel worse about karate chopping a man in the face than when he forgives you and unselfishly makes you a gourmet dinner.  Happens to me all the time.  Let's continue... 

     "Dudley, after all we've been through. . .," Hannistina murmured.  "When my world is spinning out of control, when uncertainty's hands cling to my future like over-baked cheese clings to my iron skillet. . . You know my own thoughts...(sigh) my own cravings before even I do."  

     With that she nearly fainted as the aroma from the contents of the box wafted gently to her nostrils.  She wiped back an errant tear with the arm of her fuzzy pajama sleeve, finding yet more comfort in the feel of the fabric against her face.  Come what may, one could always count on certain things to boost the spirit! 

     She gathered her emotions as she carried the package to the coffee table where she set it down and proceeded to the kitchen to procure a clean fork.  "I'm 
not even going to care about the disaster in here, " she consoled herself.  "I 
have happiness in a box waiting for me in the other room."  With that she 
resolutely produced a beaten up, but still intact utensil packet leftover from a bygone trip to KFC some months. . or was it years. . before?  Never mind that - she was thankful for the plastic now, and she had more pressing matters at hand.  That wonderful creation of a meal would get cold if she dawdled any longer.  Now 
that would be a crying shame! 

     Hannistina padded back to the living room with her knife and spork.  She was 
about to seat herself and give her emotions entirely over to the enjoyment of this heaven-sent meal when she realized she had forgotten a drink. 

     Tension was starting to mount again.  Amidst frustration over the quickly cooling spread that lay before her Hannistina could feel herself beginning to lose it when she re-entered the disheveled kitchen.  At once, like the odor of garlic that takes over one's refrigerator when the jar has been spilled and 
the contents lost forever in the packed shelves, all of the events of recent days 
washed over her.  She sank to the floor next to the trash can, buried her face 
in her hands and began to weep bitter tears. 

     "What's wrong with me?  Daddy's upset with me, Georgio is an ogre, my reputation is in shambles, and now my appetite for Dudley's peace offering is all but gone.  I have got to get a handle on this.  I need chocolate!" 

     Forgetting the meal and the fact that her head was now resting on the side 
of the trash can, she leaned back, closed her eyes, and began to daydream about 
true happiness.  Was true happiness a possibility?  All these years she had 
been yearning, searching for happiness and here it seemed that all possibilities 
of happiness were in shambles around her. 

     Without further thought, Hannistina jumped up, grabbed the boxed meal and 
paraded her pink poodle clad body straight over to the Bonmuffin bakery.  She saw Dudley standing behind the counter with his jaw almost touching the floor.  It was only then that she remembered her strange apparel.  Too late to turn back now.  She squared her shoulders and proceeded to the counter.  She placed the box in front of Dudley.  

     "What is the meaning of this?"  How Hannistina managed to sound offended when she should have felt overwhelmed with gratitude was beyond even her own comprehension. 

     Dudley could have come back with a fitting reply, for many sarcastic remarks 
came to the tip of his tongue, despite his normally sweet disposition.  Instead, 
he squelched the urge to laugh at her, recognizing the desperation in Hannistina's eyes.  Quietly, he replied "Don't you think it's time to move on?".

     "Move on, move on," she stuttered, "how can you move on after being publicly humiliated?".  

     " I realize that you are talking about your own humiliation, but having lived through my own fair share of humiliation, I have to tell you the one way I have found."  He paused and Hannistina noticed that the bruise on his head was 
only a faint brown mark.  

     "Forgiveness." he finished. 

     "Forgiveness?" she blurted out, "Who am I to forgive, I am the one who publicly shamed myself, and you.  As a matter of fact," she said as she glanced down at her attire, "I continue to embarrass myself more every day".  

     "Yourself."  Dudley said definitively.  "I have, and now you must.  Move on 
Hannistina.  Go home, clean yourself up.  Make a pot of that wonderful chili." 

     "You liked the chili?"  she started, and then finished with "You forgive 
me?  I haven't even apologized." 

     Dudley laughed, "Yes, I liked the chili, and no you don't have to apologize in order for me to forgive you." 

     "I am truly sorry, Dudley.  There is no way that I can take back my rash actions." 

     "It is all in the past, now go home and make a pot of chili.  I'd like to 
try to sell it in my shop.  I think it would really take off.  If people like 
it, maybe you could take over the shop next door.  You know that Mrs. Fairly is 
selling her perfume shop.  I don't like the idea of having an empty space next door.  I'd be glad to help you get started." 

     Hannastina stared back in open shock.  "You would do that for me, after 
all this?" she finally replied. 

     "Yes, now go home and fix a pot of chili for me!"  Dudley laughed. Her tender smile was returned by his unwavering glance...his eyes were full of hope.

Well now, I must admit, that was a much more meaningful summation to the chapter than I personally had in mind.  Apparently Dudley is the moral compass of this bizarre story.  My only other thought in this installment is for Dudley...."RUN!!!!!!"  I think that's how I would have phrased it if any of my brothers had met Hannistina in real life.  Stay tuned...the next installment introduces a new and exciting character!