Sunday, June 22, 2008


"Presidio means strong." That's what Jodi told me when I asked her why Jeremy used that name for their building company. (I had suggested "Sure Lock Homes"....but, for some reason, they decided to go another way.)

A while back, there was one of those fun things going around by e-mail where it asked you to describe a person in just one word. If asked to describe my mother in one word, I wouldn't necessarily say "presidio"...but I would definitely say "strong"!

Her own mother died when she was just 14 years old. Being in the middle, age-wise, of 13 children, I'm sure she felt lost and she had to get strong in a hurry. As the responsibilities of married life and motherhood came along, she needed an increase in that strength to meet the new demands that come along with those roles. As the storms of life buffeted her about, she relied on that strength to get her through. She also had great physical strength. It's been a very long time, if ever, since I could keep up with her energy...whether cleaning a house from top to bottom or walking 18 holes of golf.

She was diagnosed over 4 years ago with advanced aortic stenosis. That's a calcification and closing off of the aortic valve. The only real "fix" is a very risky surgery with no guarantees. It wasn't really recommended for someone of her age, so she made the decision to just live as best she could for as long as she would be allowed. A few different doctors looked at her test results and told us that, by their best estimates, she would have less than a year. Like I said...that was over 4 years ago! Strong? I think so.

So in the past 4+ years she has lived with us and flown to Tucson to visit Karen occasionally...and lived with Karen and flown to Georgia to visit with us several times. This was once she got over the initial scare when the doctors told her she shouldn't travel any more. If she was going to be alive...she was going to live on her terms. Strong. This way she got to spend time with children, grand children, and great grand children.

She came to visit us again this past February and was supposed to go back to Tucson with Karen in mid May. But by April it was becoming apparent that her strength was finally wearing out. Even the Energizer Bunny can't last forever, and after 5 weeks at Our Lady of Angels retirement home, she died...very peacefully...on the morning of June 12th.

As she is now reunited with her parents, both of her husbands, and many beloved siblings and friends, I pray that the strength that served her so well in this life will dissolve from her and she will again have a child-like spirit, awash in the love that is all around her...for all eternity.
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." Eph. 6:10

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Camp Nanny-Gramp

Some time ago, Jodi and Jeremy committed to go with several other members from their church on this year's mission trip to Honduras. She asked if we would keep the kids for 7 days. Well...of course!...we'd love to.

So this is the week the kids are vacationing at our house. Jodi brought them over last Friday about mid day. They immediately went to their "surprise boxes" as usual. Savannah had a loom in hers and we began weaving lessons. Emery had two balsa wood glider planes for him and Grandpa to fly. So we were off to a good start. (Note on the picture of Savannah that we got new porch furniture to go with the nice new paint job on the house.)

Saturday was a play-at-home day and they got out every toy in the place. When Aunt Jess got off work, she came over and we played in the pool. Sunday morning we went to Jess' church -- early service -- and then got in the pool again. Jessica dazzled the kids by diving off the diving board. Monday is Jess' day off, so while Grandpa and Emery played together at home, Jess, Savannah and I had a "girls' day". We went to Wal-Mart and got some plain old flip flops...then to Michael's to get some fancy ribbons...then to lunch at Wendy's...and then we came home and decorated our flip flops. We had fun and they turned out great! Here are Savannah's and mine. Jess' were cute, too, and very and white. But she refuses to be a "foot model". We made a pair of brown and blue ones for mommy to surprise her when she gets home from Honduras.

Today is Tuesday and Savannah has some books due back at the library. So we will hit the library this morning and then go out to lunch in Old Town Conyers. There is a cute little OLD drug store that still has a soda fountain and has lunches the kids will like. The plan for tomorrow morning is to go to a petting zoo. I hope it won't be too hot, because Savannah and I were looking at the place on the computer and she's really up for it. The record temps this week have made getting in the pool at least once every day a MUST. It's also a great way to ensure good naps and sleeping in to a reasonable time in the morning. It wears them out quite nicely.

But don't get the wrong impression. It's not all fun and games here at Camp Nanny-Gramp. There are chores to be done, too. Like vacuuming the floors and cleaning off the cherubs in the fountain. We're not above exploiting cheap labor!
I'd better get off the computer now and go pay attention to my house guests. Emery just came in and told me that the pool is nice and warm and he wants to get in it before it gets too cold. (He remembers hearing all winter that he couldn't get in because it was too cold.)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Good Job, Dale!

I wrote the other day that they were prepping our house for painting and that it could be described as "the spotted one on the left."

Well, the following day there seemed to be a film on my windows. Now...I'm not very good about washing my windows. Period. No excuses...just the facts. And every once in a while I will have to go outside to see if it really is foggy that day. But after Dale taped plastic over all the windows (and shutters), it was pretty gloomy in the house.

So then they began painting. They spray painted the house, but hand painted all the window trim, eaves, the lattice on the front porch, the door frames...everything that didn't move. Even the shutters got a new coat of green paint. They finished about 7:00 on Wednesday evening. Then he "invited" us for a walk around. We got to check everything out with a magnifying glass and if we found a spot (We looked hard, butI think we only found two) that wasn't perfect...he'd touch it up right then and there. They really did an excellent job and I would highly recommend them to anyone. So now it looks like we have a fresh new house!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Anticipation can be such sweet torture. Waiting for something wonderful you know is about to happen. As a child, waiting for Santa to come; waiting outside of Rip's in Ladd to go in and get a table and get your fried chicken (it's an Illinois thing), etc. These days I find myself living in anticipation of our summer vacation this year.

If "home is where the heart is", then Sheridan, Illinois, will always be part "home" to me. We lived there for just 13 years -- but it was the home where we raised our children, where we made good friends and where I wanted to grow old. We've been in Georgia for 18 years now and I love our life here...but Sheridan will always be "home", too. Some of the good memories I have from living there were the 4th of July celebrations. They always have a great parade. Our kids got more candy on the side of the road on the 4th of July than they did Trick-or-Treating for Halloween! Those people know how to parade! Then, when Jerry coached the girls' little league teams, we would be IN the parade...and throwing candy. One year we had "Put Me In, Coach" playing the entire time. I will never forget that song. The only thing they do better than the parade is the fireworks. They are AMAZING...every single year. We haven't been back there for a 4th of July in 15 years, but it is on my mind -- and in my heart -- every year no matter where I am or what I'm doing. (This picture was taken while waiting for the fireworks on July 4th, 1993.) My BFF Shirley has forgiven me for the picture I posted here earlier, so we are re-invited to stay with them. Their house is on the parade route, so I should get lots of candy just by sitting in a lawn chair in the front yard.

We will be rolling into Sheridan on the 3rd of July and staying for a few days. "Timing is everything" they say, and we have timed this just right. Not only will we be there for the holiday festivities, but for some really good eating. Uncle Ken (Shirley's hubby) is going to Grill Master School in Denver in June. I'm sooo looking forward to finding out what he learned. I can just picture us sitting on their beautiful patio, sipping margaritas (did you know they are great with a shot of Amaretto on the side?) and sampling the Grill Mater's fare. I know the air is going to smell like "home" to me. Beyond that, I hope to see lots of friends that we haven't seen in too long and enjoy being with these fun folks again for a while.

That, in itself, would be a wonderful trip...and something worthy of anticipation. But that is only half of this year's vacation story.

Two years ago, our friends from Illinois -- Bob and Joan -- flew down here and the 4 of us drove to Charleston and Savannah. Jerry and I had been there before, but we enjoyed sharing it with friends. We all enjoyed these two beautiful, old, historic southern cities...and the B&Bs we found for lodging. So last year, we said, "Let's go someplace again." It was in the middle of summer, so we opted for a cooler destination and headed for the mountains of North Carolina. We went to the towns of Blowing Rock, and Asheville. Found two more really neat B&Bs and, of course, had to go to The Biltmore House. Another great trip. Two such nice vacation trips had us asking, "Where can we go this year?" I figured that it was our turn to travel north to meet up with them and decided I wanted to vacation in Chicago!

Growing up, I lived about 80 miles southwest of Chicago. But I had an aunt and uncle who lived in the city and we would go see them occasionally. It always truly was an "occasion". I can remember them taking us to Grant Park to see Buckingham Fountain lit up at night...and their apartment was within walking distance of the Museum of Science of Industry. I can still remember the first time I saw Colleen Moore's Doll House and went down into the coal mine. When our girls were in school, their 8th grade trip was to Chicago. Since I worked at the school, Jerry and I got to be chaperones the year Jess' class went (She could have done without that!). We stayed at the Palmer House Hotel, ate dinner at The Berghoff restaurant (now no longer open), visited China Town and went to a Cubs' game. Great times. Great memories.

Joan said that she and Bob had taken the train into Chicago for their anniversary this year and had a fun day. We agreed that Chicago is a neat city and would be fun to visit together. So we've been making plans. While looking at hotel accommodations, Joan said, "Too bad we can't get a B&B in Chicago...we've had such good luck with them." Well...we found one! We have reservations at the Gold Coast Inn B&B and we can't wait to see it. It is a renovated 1873 brick town home only a 10-minute stroll from the Magnificent Mile. We are envisioning ourselves eating breakfast while enjoying the view of the lush, 2-level garden.

For the past couple of years I've been mentioning to Jerry that I'd like to see a Cubs' game at Wrigley Field again before they tear it down...or it falls down. So we have tickets to a baseball game, too. And the Cubs are playing AWESOME this year. Keep it up, boys...I'm on my way! They're having a promotion that evening and the first 10,000 fans get a 1908 Cubs' hat. I plan to get to the park early. There are so many cool and wonderful things to do there that it was hard to decide. But among our planned activities are: strolling Navy Pier and getting a cheese burger ("Cheeburger, cheeburger...cheeps/no fries" for those of you old enough to remember the early days of Saturday Night Live), taking the architectural tour by boat, going to see Jersey Boys, and walking through Millennium Park. Those are our "musts" at this point...but we're leaving room for the Adler Planetarium, a walk over to Oak Street Beach, getting a deep dish Chicago pizza, or anything else that strikes our fancy. We will be taking the train in from Dwight, and that will be fun, too.

So we are going to bite the bullet and put $4.00 per gallon gas in the car and drive up north. Wikipedia defines anticipation as "an emotion involving pleasure in considering some expected or longed-for good event." Yep. I would say that fits!

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Wet Weekend

Part of me wishes this post was about all the rain we got this weekend. We are very, very dry again and the plants and flowers have sad little faces. We had a chance for rain last night and it was predicted to be raining this morning...but so far, not a drop. Also, there is a very slight chance for some precip today, tonight and tomorrow. But I don't hold out much hope.
So why am I writing a bout a "wet weekend"?

On Saturday Jodi called and said she and Jeremy had a last-minute opportunity to go to a resort at Lake Oconee with some friends and play golf (him) and go to the spa (her) and out to a nice dinner and spend the night (both). But she needed a baby sitter and could I pleeeeese keep the kids overnight? Well...of course! Since we weren't having any rain, the kids and I got in the pool Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours. Then when Jess got off work, she came over and we got pizza and had a "party" night. On Sunday morning, we all went to Jess' church early, then came back and had warmed-up pizza for lunch and got in the pool again for a couple of more hours. They had a ball...and after that they both took 3-hour naps and were just getting up when mom and dad came to collect them.
Jessica forgot to "turn the other cheek", so she's red on one side and white on the other. If she stops and turns around to look back, she looks like a barber pole!

So it was a good weekend, and everybody enjoyed it....except the poor flowers with their pitiful little faces to the hot sun.