Tuesday, July 31, 2012

1998: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Happy Birthday to me - August 1998
Here's a secret for all of my devoted readers ...all 4 of you anyway.

I love money.  You know, for more than the obvious reasons.  Maybe I should clarify my statement though since we all know that "The love money is the root of all evil."

What I mean to say is - I love to play with it, count it, figure out what's missing, figure out the puzzle that makes it all work.

But I wasn't always like this.  Growing up, counting money was way too much math for this artistic girl.  It was a very left brain journey that my right-sided brain didn't want to travel any more often than absolutely necessary. But I did it because it was math that needed to be learned in school and I had to if I wanted to save for the future or purchase for the present.

By 1998, hubby and I had arrived at a point in time where I had become familiar enough with living in western New York and was comfortable with my surroundings, but being a "stay-at-home mom" to the dog was just not working for me.  So, I went back to work - and of all the places that were hiring, I ended up at a bank...getting paid to do the money thing.

Turns out, the left side of my brain actually enjoys a little work-out now and again.  And on those days when things weren't quite what they should be at the end of the day, I enjoyed "the puzzle" - the credit that was supposed to be a debit, the debit that was supposed to be a credit, a bill getting caught in the counter, all adding up together and becoming that "bottom line".

I started out as low-man on the teller line, did my time, and ended up training for the position of head teller .... right before I quit, because I decided that I would rather have a baby than a career.  But should that time ever pop up again, when it's time for me to do something outside of being mom to the monkey children, you can bet I'll return to my banking roots.

Monday, July 30, 2012

1997: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

August, 1997 - I was about to embark on an experience unlike I ever imagined I would take part of when we made the move to the Empire State.

Through our church, and through being involved on our worship team...I was heading out of the country for the first time.  (Not counting my numerous trips made to Canada - do those really count when you can practically see the border from your house?)  This trip was also going to involve {gulp} flying for the first time.

I have never felt "the call" to be a missionary.  Ever.  So when this opportunity first presented itself, I was less than enthused at the idea.  What did I possibly have to offer?  Then the panic really set in.  I had to get a passport.  Immunizations needed to be updated (ouch).  What's the Spanish word for "bathroom"?   I really should've paid closer attention during those two years of Spanish in high school...because we were heading to Central America, into the country of Honduras.

     My first take-off in an airplane was...white-knuckled, gripping the armrest of my seat with one hand while clenching the hand of my hubby with the other.  But I survived.  When we landed in Miami, it was more clenching and gripping, and a lot of "brakebrakebrakebrakebrakebrakebrake..." going on in my head.  But I survived, actually enjoying the time between take-off and landing, and hey!  I was in Florida for the night!
    The next morning, hubby and I woke early.  There was quite a bit of time before our next flight out of the states, and we were able to get in touch with Mr. D.'s uncle who lived semi-close.  He came by the hotel, and took us on a quick tour of the city - I still remember how very "Miami Vice" the city really did look!

But just as quickly, we were back with our group and loading up for our next flight and another round of "clench and grip" for the flight from Miami to Tegucigalpa.  One little tidbit of info regarding the runway at the Tegucigalpa airport:  Apparently it's one of the MOST dangerous in the world.  (And nobody bothered to tell me this prior to getting me on that airplane??)

(What does it mean when the passengers broke into a round of applause after we had landed safely?)

Safe on the ground, it was time to find my "inner missionary", and do what we had travelled all that way to do.  The group that we were with was a group of youth and a worship team from our church, which is how Mr. D. and I fit into this. We were meeting up with Zion Ministries there, a couple who had become full-time missionaries to the people of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  Simply put - we were going to bring Jesus to the people there.

That sounds very "churchy" doesn't it?  But there is no other way to describe what we did, where we were at, and the things that we had seen.

Sunday, August 3rd - Buenos Dias! This is to be our first full day in Tegucigalpa and I am so excited!  We are staying at a "bed & breakfast" on the hillside that is absolutely incredible, and this country is beautiful!  Today we are going to Sunday services, followed by an outreach in an area known for it's high drug activity and gang members, called simply -"Kennedy".

I remember the stench that permeated this area.  Urine.  
This was a being thrown into the mission field headfirst.  

Monday, August 4th - It was a light day today - the kids went to a school this morning - from the sound of it, it went very well.  In my mind, I think it had to be a very encouraging experience for them - it sounds like they were very well received by the children there and 50 came forward to accept Christ!  Lord, I pray for the follow-up with these children!  Tomorrow we are scheduled to go to a women's prison, and I'm pretty sure I may be asked to share my testimony.  But I'm determined to not be nervous...
1 Chronicles 16:24 - "Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples."

Tuesday, August 5th - What an incredible day!  We went to the Women's prison @ Tamara where God moved in a BIG way!  The women there responded in such a way that I don't think any of us could have ever expected.  200 women and 150 of them came forward for prayer.  I don't know why these women are here, but they are broken and they just wanted the love of Christ.  I can't even begin to imagine what else will happen before we head home!

Wednesday, August 6th - Another incredible day!  This morning we went to a girl's high school, where they openly received the music that we played, and the words we shared.  We were scheduled for a larger high school, but they found out we were Christians and canceled our visit.  Close to 20 girls made a life changing decision.

     This afternoon we met at the church to pray and prepare ourselves for what the rest of the week had in store for us.  Everyone shared about what has impacted their lives so far this week, and I think all of us have hearts that are breaking for this city...for this country!  We can't possibly go home the same people as we were when we got here.
     Tonight we were at an Assemblies of God church - just a small congregation.  But I was able to hold my end of a conversation with a older gentleman who came up to talk!  (Thank you, Mrs. Posey, for those two years of Spanish classes!)

Thursday, August 7th - Dear God, please help me!  I am so physically and emotionally drained.  We have 2 more days here, and I'm just so tired.  There are so many wonderful things to report when we get home, but there are also the things I am so excited to have been a part of that many will never be able to see to understand.  
(This was the day we had travelled to The Valley of Angels - a poverty stricken area where our hosts had begun to organize and construct a home for orphaned, abused, and abandoned children.  I'm thrilled to report that this home, Hope Center, is now complete and the children who have been taken into the home are thriving!) 
Nearly 10 people made a decision to serve Christ @ the University this afternoon, so I praise God for that.  I'm just praying for strength, patience to keep my mouth shut when I really want to scream, and the knowledge to know when and how You want move among your people.
The university where the group played, notice the students on the balconies!
For whatever reason, I didn't continue on with my journaling for the remainder of our time there.  I know we set up in "Central Park" in downtown Tegucigalpa on that Friday, and the vast number of people there was...intimidating?  No, not quite....but they kept wanting to hear more.  One gentleman even did his own "Zaccheus" - climbing a tree to get a better view. (No I'm not comparing us to Jesus, just the fact that the dude climbed the tree, that's all.  But maybe...just maybe...for that one afternoon, we were Jesus to those people.)

Do I feel any more called to be a missionary now that I've done it?  Nope.  It's so far out of my comfort zone, that it's just plain uncomfortable.  But sometimes, God pulls us out of what we're comfortable with.  Because we need it.  Because someone may need us.  Because He needs us.  He just needs us to love them....because He loves them.  

Sunday, July 29, 2012

1996: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Riddle me, riddle me, riddle me ree...A man and woman married only a few short years, become new homeowners - what's probably the most idiotic thing we could do at this point?




Admittedly, not the most fiscally responsible thing we've ever done.  Taxes were higher, cost of living was higher, EVERYTHING cost more!  On top of that, we had been in our house, only a few months really, when one day I started to think that maybe Mr. D. was missing being around HIS family since they all lived in western New York (I'm such a thoughtful kind-of girl like that).  Then I started thinking about how really sick and tired I was of seeing corn fields everywhere I went (we were "in town", but it was small and it was rural).  This led to imagining what it might be like to live in a suburban area.  Of a major city.  Becoming more...independent.

(What was I thinking?)

I shared my thoughts with the hubby, and it was almost as if that was all the confirmation that he needed.  Immediately, he began notifying the post offices in the Buffalo, NY suburbs letting them know that he was looking to transfer, and when word was received that a carrier's position was available for him, I had to do something that I absolutely dreaded.

Telling my mother that we were moving.

Out of state.


The move was to happen fairly quickly.  Our home, which we had owned for only a year, was put up for sale, and we were referred to a realtor who could help us find a new place to live in New York.  Neither of these tasks were completed in a timely manner.  We moved prior to the sale of our home in Ohio, and waiting on the sale of that residence put us at an obvious disadvantage in being able to purchase a new residence for us to move into.  We spent the next  6 months in an apartment while we prayed for the quick sale of our home and looked at all possible housing arrangements.

Here I was, a young woman, married for a short 2 1/2 years, and I was making my third move in that same period of time.  I really don't recommend this.  It was a very exciting time for me looking at what the future held, but I also had yet to find my "home" since being married.  Knowing that this new apartment was another temporary residence didn't help either.

So what DOES a young woman do when she is in a new city, only a small apartment to take care of, and Mr. D. is working.  A LOT?
A move to Buffalo, deserved an apron with a recipe for Buffalo Wings!
I unpacked boxes that we would only be repacking in 6 months.  And no, I didn't take up becoming the next Julia Childs.  I had this thought earlier tonight while cooking dinner.  Despite that I've become more comfortable in a kitchen, despite that I can cook something besides Hamburger Helper, and despite that my kids genuinely LIKE my cooking...I still don't like doing it.

Now the obvious question is: Was the move worth it?

I have to think so, yes.  The taxes are still insanely high, the cost of living is ridiculous, and I miss my friends and family that we left behind almost daily.  But - I'm happy to say that we've been here 16 years and I've established long-lasting friendships, experienced life differently than what I could have ever dreamed of, and I have my own little family now with the three monkey children.

I'm home.


(Keeping with my "music I listened to during the said year...", this one ranked in at #6 for the year in Christian music.  Smitty!!)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

1995: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Being married to a career mailman "letter carrier", I shouldn't have been surprised when he came home from work one day informing me of a new house that was being built on his mail route. A new build that was still available and looking to be sold by the contractor.  Did I want to go look at it?


(Don't get me wrong, our little apartment was just fine - but the idea of being a homeowner was rather exciting.  You know, in a stupid kind-of way.)

So we took the plunge...but we didn't just become homeowners, we became part of the building "process".  The contractor let us have a say in paint, carpet, flooring, bathroom fixtures, lighting, countertops,etc...as long as it fit in the budget he had initially set for himself when he began the project.

Just for the record...that's a LOT of pressure!  Signing a 30 year mortgage and picking out all of those little details for your home that yes, can be changed at some point down the road, but you want it to last into the foreseeable future.  Kitchen would be styled very "country" with oak cabinets, and a light blue countertop, the living room/hallway was styled with carpet that coordinated nicely with our current sofa...except that nicely coordinated color was...magenta.  And that's being generous.  Yeah, it was a dark pink.  My bathroom was my favorite room in the house with dark green floors that were a very high gloss, so it almost looked like marble.

Thankfully, it was a VERY small house (less than 1000 square feet) so it wasn't an insane amount of work prior to moving in January of 1995.

The REAL fun began the following month, when we had an addition to our family.

A little fur ball named "Skeeter" took over our home, all 4 pounds of Yorkshire Terrier that he was, he was also a little terror.  Let's just say he initiated the house very well for the next 12 months (and for 12 years after that.)...

...and then we moved...

Again. (Yippee.)


Friday, July 27, 2012

1994: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

As I've been writing these past few weeks, I've been taking a second each day to google news headlines and popular music of the time.  It's my way of waking up my brain and refreshing my mind for the time period that I'm writing about. 1994 was no different...except I looked at the list of music released in '94 like it was written in a different language.  What was it about 1994 that made Top-40 songs - the stuff that was played on the radio - so...forgettable?  Or at least forgettable to me!

The simple reason I don't remember pop music from that year is because I wasn't listening to it!  By that time, I had moved on from my short "career" in educational music to a job at the local Christian bookstore.  Let me just preface the rest of this by saying...Greatest job ever!!  I was a bookworm...and now I was surrounded by books.  The hubby and I had spent the last 8-10 years of our separate lives listening to our favorite Christian musicians...and now I got to unpack all of the new music as it came in!  Safe to say, a LOT of my paycheck went right back to that store.

Taking a quick second to reminisce - some of the music making the top 100 of that year were:
  • Bruce Springsteen - "Streets of Philadelphia" (to me, this just lets me know that was the year the Tom Hanks movie came out.
  • Sting, Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart - "All For Love" (Remember Kiefer Sutherland in The Three Musketeers?)
  • Elton John - "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" (Of course!  Disney's The Lion King!)
Basically, if it wasn't on a movie soundtrack, I most likely missed any kind of radio top-40 songs that year.  I also missed it if it was country music.  I quit listening to country music years ago.  (Except for that one weekend, not too long ago...it involved a big truck, and the smell of livestock, and I was transported back in time for just a brief moment...)

But anyway - yes, safe to say, I was in my Christian retail bubble and I was happy being there.  Ask me anything about Dove Award winners, Michael English, Steven Curtis Chapman, 4Him, Two Hearts, Guardian, Out of the Grey, Rich Mullins, Ken Tamplin or Billy Sprague (to name a few...)I'll hook you up with whatever you'd like to know.

DaBrat, Urge Overkill, Stone Temple Pilots, Crash Test Dummies...who??  They sang what??

Here's what I did know:  Baptism gifts up here by the window, wedding invitations back on the platform, Sunday School gifts (ugh) are at the back of the store, would your children like to watch a McGee and Me video while you shop?  I could tell if you were a KJV, NASB, NIV, or Message Bible reader as soon as you walked in the door (Please don't ask me to perform this feat now, I'm out of practice.),  and I was there for the beginning of the Left Behind series by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins...and yes, I've read them all faithfully.

At one point I was given the opportunity to put together folders of info for all of the local churches in the area - basically letting them know who we were, where we were, and how we could help them with whatever supplies they might need for their services and Sunday School.  I then had to deliver all of these folders personally. (Apparently my employers thought I enjoyed my previous personal interactions with music directors, and thought I could now handle ministers and church secretaries.)   All I can remember is three days of driving all over northwest Ohio...and also that there are A LOT of churches in northwest Ohio.

Eventually our bookstore merged with the company's office supply division and we welcomed a whole new crew of people into the mix.  I had to become "familiar" with all basic office supplies, inks and toners, writing instruments, typewriters (yes, we actually sold them way back when) and then there was this rare breed of guys who worked at the back of the store.  The computer guys.  If a customer came in with a computer tower in their arms....just keep on moving...all the way to the back...do not stop at this front counter, I can not help you.  Not entirely sure that these fellas knew what they were doing either (Kevin Baxter), but as long as I wasn't the one who had to replace any hard drives or upgrade the memory on a machine, it was all good.

I genuinely liked this job, remaining employed by Russ and Evelyn Wyse, up until hubby and I made the decision to move out of state...but that's a story for another year, and another day...

For now - here is an example of what I was listening to in 1994...


Thursday, July 26, 2012

1993: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Here comes the bride!

In 1993, "the boyfriend" became "the husband" and I became a married woman at the tender age of {gulp} 21.

It wasn't a quick decision, it took him two years to pop the question - but it was a quick engagement.
(4 months - yikes!)

We had been dating since April of 1991, this tall boy man and I, whom I had met when I began attending a new church.  Two and a half years later, I was making my way down the aisle as his bride, to become Mrs. D.  My brother was giving me away, mom was in the front row crying, my uncle came in from Oklahoma to help us celebrate the day, and the "grandparent photo" had more people in it than our wedding party photo due to all of the step-families and remarriages.

Who could have asked for a better day? (Okay I could have done without the overcast skies, rain, and chilly temperature.)

It took 902 days of getting to know him before I married him.  And yet, almost 19 years later - he can still surprise me.  But he knows me, he laughs at my jokes, shakes his head at my clumsiness, and puts up with me when I go off on one of my tyrades.  He can also bug me, annoy me, and frustrate me to no end with his never-ending practicality.

But let's just chalk that all up as part of his charm.  :)


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

1992: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Certainly I can come up with ONE distinctive memory from 1992, the year that I turned 20.  365 days in a year, there should be a lot of memories there, right?

Yes, there should be.  But I'm struggling to find it.

Oh things happened, I can see that as I flip through photo albums and scrapbooks.  A Whiteheart concert with "the boyfriend", seeing my first Broadway musical (a touring company for Les Miserables) with "the boyfriend", traveling to Kentucky with "the boyfriend" to visit my brother and sister-in-law, seeing my brother ordained as a minister (what? How did that happen?), friends were getting married, friends had careers, friends were having babies.

We were all doing very grown-up things and making very grown-up choices and becoming...ugh.  Grown-up.

I didn't want to grow up.  Well...in some ways I did.  I mean, it's not as if I was looking to compete with Peter Pan in Never-Never Land. But is there anything wrong with still wanting to play a game of hide-and-seek even though you're now 20 years old?
Being a grown-up also means that when bad things happen...sad things even...it's probably going to be remembered with more detail and more emotion than what I ever would have as a child.  But it can become a cherished memory even through the sadness.

As a little girl, for example, I went to a small number of funerals when it was...appropriate for a young child to attend.  Great-aunts, family friends, etc...people I knew of, but can't say I really knew them personally to be overly upset over it.  That's not being heartless and cold...just being the kid that I was.

But when I became a grown-up, I had to face grown-up realities.  Realities such as grandpas don't live forever and that cancer sucks.   And facing the reality that you'd never hear his laugh again on this earth, or knowing that at Christmas-time those little brown bags that he always meticulously put together for each of his kids and grandkids with specific little treasures inside would no longer be there - no matter how hard anyone else tried to step in.  Just the realization that would come slamming down on me that he really was no longer here...would send me into a tailspin for days.

In July of 1992, I knew going to the hospital that day that it was going to be his last day.  Not necessarily something I wanted to know ahead of time, but it was a sad time seeing grandpa slip away a little more each day, and I was looking for comfort.  The (now long-lost) Stryper Bible, was still sitting on my dresser and I picked it up.  I had no words, and I didn't know where to look.  I just had a need.

What I was given that day was John 16:16 - "Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

What?  That's NOT what I wanted to read!  Really?  Out of this entire book, THAT's what You give me for comfort?  (Yes, I had that conversation with God for a brief moment, and then He calmed me by reminding me that I had my time to say goodbye, and I would see grandpa again...one day.)

That afternoon I spent some of grandpa's last few minutes with him.  It was just he and I in the room.  There were many other family members there in the hospital, in the waiting room down the hall.  But for a few minutes it was just grandpa and I.  He couldn't speak, and he was receiving oxygen through a mask at the time, but we just sat there together for those few moments.  He motioned that he wanted a drink of water, and I was able to take care of him even in just that simple way.  Pouring his cup, lifting his mask and holding his head while he took a drink, then just sitting with him while he held my hand.

It wasn't but a few moments more, when his kids had gathered around him, and we were told to say our goodbyes when he left us.  

But I know it's only for a little while.

And I still miss him daily.  Especially when I look at my youngest son and see so much of his great-grandfather in his look and in his mannerisms.  And the way he makes me laugh.  Every day.  Just like grandpa.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

1991: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Rodney King, Magic Johnson and HIV, Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, "Dallas" ended after 13 years, and Jeffrey Dahmer?  Well, who knew what he was thinking!  But these were the news makers of 1991.

     The biggest news of this year, however, was probably the Gulf War and specifically Operation Desert Storm that broke out immediately after the beginning of the year.  A long-coming problem, it came to a head when Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing oil from an oil field that ran beneath both countries.  During the summer of 1990, Iraq's military forces had moved in, occupying Kuwait.  The United Nations called for military action should Hussein not withdraw his forces by January 15, 1991.  He didn't....and the United States followed through.  
     Under the direction of American General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, an air campaign was initiated to disable Iraq's communications, air defenses, and early warning radar installations.  And we watched it all as news sources broadcast the air attack live on television.  
This was all very personal to me because by this time,  I had a step-brother who was a Marine (whom I refer to simply as my brother).  This was all very cool when he was stationed in Japan and we would write to one another...but not so cool when it came down to the fact that he was being sent to be a part of Desert Storm.

I remember this time as being pretty crazy.  Mom and my step-dad were worried obviously, my "sister-in-law" and nephew had moved in with us while my brother was overseas.  This left things...new and interesting to say the least.  Our days were spent listening to the news, anytime there was news, regarding the war.  Reality of the seriousness hit when my brother had made a video tape for my step-dad..."just in case"

Thankfully, Desert Storm didn't last long, and in April we received word that my brother was on his way home to the states.  The next morning, my mom, step-dad, my sister-in-law, nephew, sister, and my step-dad's ex-wife and her husband all got our things together and headed off to North Carolina from Ohio to greet him when my brother when he came in at Camp Lejeune.  The only problem...we didn't know exactly when he would be arriving.  So we checked into a hotel and we waited.  And we waited.  And we waited.

For the record, hanging around a military port when you're 18 years old was fun! A lot of fun! Marines....Marines...and oh, look!  More Marines!  (Okay I also went horseback riding for the first-time while I was down there, and managed to NOT get thrown off my horse!)  Finally...after a number of days had passed, we got the "official" word that his company was getting into the base, and the excitement level bumped up another notch.  We were there when his bus came in (although I couldn't see him - it was at night, and it was dark), and then we headed off to wait in what I remember to be similar to a gymnasium.

This was one of the more amazing experiences I have ever been lucky enough to have been a part of.  Seeing the soldiers coming in, standing in formation, then seeing them "dismissed" and ALL of the family members finding their loved ones - somebody's brother, daddy, or son - in our case, he was all three.  He is my brother, my step-dad's son, and his little boy's daddy....and he was home, safe and sound, and back with his family.


Monday, July 23, 2012

1990: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

In 1990, my future in music education hinged upon one very important day.

The day that I went for my audition at Ohio Northern University.

Yes, I had already been accepted into the school, but I had to go before the dean and play a prepared piece for him.  Thankfully, my years attending band camp there had prepared me for meeting Mr. Williams, the dean of music, and the song I was going to play was one of my favorites, a piece I had worked on for probably the past year or more.

The audition went well, I had the support of a good friend who had accompanied that day, and when all was said and done, the school offered me a scholarship.

This was to be my final step in a very long walk toward a future in music.  A journey that began in 5th grade with the decision to play the flute, followed by a decision to begin private lessons which continued on through my senior year.  Mrs. Gallehue was a very patient woman for having to put up with me in school as a student and also as her private student for all of those years.  Years of teenage attitude, refusal to practice despite needing to, shamefully pretending I had practiced when it was obvious that I hadn't, playing just to get through a piece and hoping to move on to something new and exciting.

Her husband, Mr. Gallehue, reaffirmed my music education within school as well.  As my high school band director, he pushed just hard enough, put me in my place when I got too big for my own good, and made everything about the music program at Edon High School rewarding for everyone.  Between the two of them working together for years covering every aspect of the music department, those of us who were looking forward to a future in music had opportunities opened to us.

Even though the scholarship I was granted was a generous one, there was no way I would be able to afford to go to school at Ohio Northern without going into a major amount of debt, and I opted to give up on that dream.  So I did the next best thing, I found a job at the local "educational music" store - the store that sold music and instruments to all of the school districts in the area.  Not my favorite job of all time, and it still makes its way into my dreams that I may have to one day go back to work there, but it kept me in touch and close with what I loved.  Music in schools.

(And there will be no discussion of a certain band director coming in posing as a doctor wanting to buy a drum set and a guitar, just to make me squirm in my sales abilities.  Well there may have been another reason...as in I was being SET UP...but that story is and will remain tucked away in my childhood diary from 20 years ago.)


Sunday, July 22, 2012

1989: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

When I was thinking about this memory, all I could think of was a movie quote....
Oh relax...I'm not going any further with that line.  Because that would be...just very wrong...and inappropriate...and besides, that movie came out 10 years after the fact.  So when I was in band camp, it was a much more innocent time.  And to be honest, it was right up there with my summer camp experiences at Lake James.  Just....different.

During high school, my summers were filled with church camp, cheerleading camp, and yes...band camp.  Every year, I spent a week at Ohio Northern University with all of my fellow band nerds, and every year was better than the last.  I have friends to this day who I met there, and I learned a number of valuable lessons there:
  • Never take your eye off of the director.  He will embarrass you if he's trying to get the attention of the entire group while tuning and warm-ups, and can't get you to look at him.  (Don't ask how I know this.)
  • No matter how well you may know your formal recital piece...you can still get stage fright and completely blow the performance.  (Again...no questions please.)
  • Befriending a klepto-maniac was probably not my wisest move.  No, I never joined in her escapades, I think I spent the entire week in shock and surprise every time she came back from the gift shop with her little stash of...whatever.  
  • Choosing to sing a Top-40 pop song as a duet with a friend for the camp talent show may seem like a good idea, but the lyrics should not involve "adult activity" because the idea will most likely get scrapped.
  • I discovered that I am NOT a morning person.
  • My most valuable lesson learned?  How to open a combination lock.  I had never done it prior to arriving at camp, and when I got there I had to store my music and instrument in a locker with a combination lock.  Thank you to my Lima friends for teaching and being patient with me that first week!!
I also learned that I was falling completely in love with the school and the music program there at ONU.   I made the choice that this was where I wanted to continue my education after high school, and in 1989,  I sent in my application to be accepted into their Getty College of Arts and Sciences as a freshman music major.  (My acceptance letter came in December 1989, mid-way through my senior year of high school)


(Michael W. Smith..I 2 (Eye)....epic album in my opinion.)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

1988: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

This year was all about music.  Christian music.  Christian music concerts.  My big brother dearest had his driver's license and somehow convinced mom that he was responsible enough for us to head out on our own.  With friends.  (What was she thinking?)  In all honesty, it was pretty innocent fun, and we were a group of good kids who weren't prone to getting into trouble.  Or serious trouble anyway.

I remember early concerts seeing Kenny Marks with Whiteheart on their "Don't Wait For The Movie" tour.  But it was at a local high school, and remained a nice, tame concert.  There was also Petra's "This Means War" tour in Ft. Wayne.  Again, fairly innocent other than I was meeting {gasp} a boy at this concert!   (Funny side note - met up with A boy at this concert, but I found out years later that THE guy I would eventually marry was also at the same concert.)

In 1988, we went bigger...serious concerts.  We got word in our little town that Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith were touring TOGETHER and would be in Detroit, Michigan.  They hadn't toured together in a bit, this was monumental to be able to see them together, and it needed to be done.  But Detroit?  Really?  Would mom really allow us to drive 3 hours away for this one?  Yes.  Really.  She did.  (It helped that her best friend lived in a Detroit suburb so we had a safe place to crash for the night.)

Finally, I went to my first REAL concert.  I knew it was a "real" concert because my brother had warned me ahead of time that this was not going to be like the previous ones.  His words to me at the time were something like, "We go in, you're on your own. I'm not babysitting you.  Don't smoke anything, don't drink anything, we'll meet you here when it's over. Got it?"  Wait a minute!  How bad is it going to be?  Don't leave me here...

He was off, and I decided to take advantage of my lifelong vertically challenged status, and weaseled my way up to about 6 rows from the stage...and stayed put for the next few hours.  I did talk to one person.  The tall guy standing in front of me.  (Really...what is it with tall guys?)  But this conversation was only to ask him if I could get on his shoulders to see better.  He said "Sure!" but never did let me up.

It was big hair, lots of spandex, and lots of guitar.  It was 80's hairband rock at it's best.  White Lion followed by Stryper on their In God We Trust tour.

And yes, I walked away with the token Stryper Bible and Stryper guitar pick that had both been tossed out into the crowd.  (See them lined up on the mic stand in the video shot above?) Seems Mr. Tall Guy in front of me couldn't get low enough to the ground to see what was between his feet!  Too bad for him!

Unfortunately, I just spent an hour digging around in the attic for wherever I might have stashed my Stryper Bible, and I can't find it anywhere.

I didn't smoke or drink anything, I found my brother afterward, and we all survived the insanity of the night, once again allowing mom to breathe out another sigh of relief as she heard the car pull up to the house later that night.  (Okay, there was this one little moment - with a train - on the way home...)


Friday, July 20, 2012

1987: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

If there is one experience that I think EVERY child should have, it's the experience of going away to summer camp.  One week away from parents, one week of weird and strange food, one week of making new friends that you won't be able to stop talking about when the week is over, one week of incredible memories!

For me, my first summer camp experience was at Lake James near Angola, Indiana - and in 1987, I was in Sr. High week with my brother where I had been "welcomed into the fold" by his camp buddies.  Yeah, that was fun.  Going to camp with your older brother and ending up with FIVE older brothers looking out for you by the end of the week.  Thanks guys.  Really.  But I was hoping to actually TALK to that guy....over there...by the picnic table...never mind, he's gone now.

So, anyways...summer camp at Lake James:

Memorial Hall at LJCA - www.ljca.org 
  • Two main buildings - Memorial Hall faced you as you drove in, and what was simply referred to as "the chapel"...because that's what it was used for.  It didn't look like a church, but more like a community center, or a "Morton Building".
  • The Girls' Dorms - One was located near Memorial Hall - Dorm 1 - a girl's dorm.  NOBODY wanted to be in Dorm 1.  Why?  Because the other girl's dorm - Dorm 7 - was back in the woods...near the boys' dorm.  Enough said. 
  • The Boys' Dorms - yes, also located back in that wooded area - but the rules stated that no boys were allowed on the trail that led directly to the coveted Dorm 7 to get to their own dorm, and they would have to take the other trail.  Their dorms were a little longer and had a brick wall in the center splitting the building into two.  Apparently one year, the girls population was higher, and they actually had to put us on one side of a boys' dorm...what?  We were all good boys and girls that year!  I promise!
  • Every morning (unless it was raining) we would meet around the flag pole in the middle of camp doing the pledge thing, the "heads, shoulders, knees, & toes" thing...just getting us awake...then we'd move into breakfast.
  • The days were filled with "team meetings" where we got together with everyone on the team we'd been assigned to with our team leaders...learning something, memorizing Bible verses, planning whatever for the week's talent show...it was a learning opportunity during these times.
  • Interesting tidbit - swimming in (duh!) LAKE James...which just so happened to be the same lake as where my grandparents lived and worked at Pokagon State Park, just on the opposite side.  There was also a house.  On an island.  In the middle of the lake.  Kinda cool.
  • Evenings involved putting on our "Sunday best" before going into dinner, immediately followed by an evening chapel service, and then it was a race back to the dorms to prepare for whatever had been scheduled for that evening...a scavenger hunt, beach party, nighttime hide & seek (our counselors would hide, we'd seek them out), and then, at the end of the night, we'd head down to the beach....
  • Maybe, just maybe I would have gotten a note slipped to me during the day...by a boy...you know, that cute one...from over by the picnic tables...and he'd ask me to sit with him that night at campfire...and do what?  It was a Christian camp for pete's sake.  What did you think we were going to do??
  • Roaring bonfire...sing a few songs, listen to a brief "What have we learned today?" message, final announcements for the day and updates for the next day's activities.  
  • Favorite Memory:  (BESIDES the cute boy?)  All of the campers sitting on the beach around the campfire and we would get really, REALLY quiet at night.  Completely silent.  Not a word.  Just waiting.  Anticipating what was coming next.   All of a sudden, whoever was speaking that night would yell out sharply, "ATTITUDE CHECK!"  That was our cue to yell back "Praise The Lord!"  and then an immediate and complete silence.....as we would listen for the echo from across the lake.  Okay, so maybe it was a "had to be there" moment.
This video was done years after my time at LJCA was over, but he managed to capture it all quite well. If you can sit through a white boy's rap anyway.  


1986: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

I have a confession to make.

Maybe "confession" isn't the right word.  But this isn't something that I tend to ...announce...to others.

If you're reading this and we went to school together - then you already know.

If you're reading this, however,  and we've only become friends in the last 15 years?...this may be a shocker.

You see, yours truly...
...was a cheerleader.       

It's not that being a cheerleader is necessarily a bad thing, and I do have a decent amount of athletic ability.  I just never cared for running up and down the basketball court back and forth, back and forth, dribble, dribble, dribble, shoot!  So, in the 7th and 8th grade, I  cheered on our Jr. High boys basketball teams.  But in the spring of 1986 it was time to see if I really had "the stuff."  So when try-outs were held in the spring for the high school fall football cheerleading squads, I practiced, I learned how to do a round-off, I perfected my cartwheel, and I did my thing.

Obviously from the short-skirted, skinny-legged photo above,  I made the Junior Varsity squad.  This meant...well, all it meant was that I had the ugly uniform.  Honestly, there were 4 JV and 4 Varsity cheerleaders, and all 8 of us cheered at Friday night football games.

I liked it, and I kept doing it.  Year....after year...after year....after year.  Football and Basketball - all the way through high school.

And before you ask:  No, I never had any inclination whatsoever to cheer beyond high school.  No, I don't still have the uniform.

Let's just all move on from this little revelation, shall we?

A quick side-note, 1986 also brought the first album from my all-time favorite songwriter.  Ever.  This is a recording from 1982, but the song was on his 1986 album...and I liked this version.  A Lot.  It's raw.  It's powerful.  It's pure Rich.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

1985: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

When I think of the year 1985, I think of a leopard print jacket.

No.  Not mine.  Sadly, such a prized piece of clothing has never graced my closet.

This -
...is the leopard print of which I speak.

And when I think of Amy Grant and her Unguarded album that was released in 1985, I immediately think of my dear friend who had this album, and it was she who made a recording of it for me onto a cassette tape so I could have it for my very own.  I tried picking my favorite song off of it...I gave up, it was an impossible task.  But it has led me to relive some great memories with the music I used to listen to...and yes, I'll be sharing that with you in upcoming days. (I sense your excitement!)

"Grant"ed (go ahead, laugh...it's a funny play on her name), I don't know if Unguarded was Amy's best album, and it wasn't even her first...but it was good stuff.  And it set things in motion for contemporary Christian music to really take off.  Thank goodness, because right about now was when my life became complicated, hard, emotional, fun, and a whirlwind.  I was a teenager!!

1985 - When Marty and Doc Brown took on time travel in one of these -

...and also when a gallon of gas cost $1.09, a movie ticket was $2.75, and sending a first class letter was 22 cents.  Names and phrases that were familiar on the evening news were the "Achille Lauro", the Unabomber, Mikel Gorbachev, and AIDS.

Even more popular than Amy's leopard print jacket though, was the release of a recording that was created to raise awareness and money for famine relief under the name of "USA for Africa."  44 popular names landed their voices to the supergroup under the direction of Quincy Jones.  (Yes, I owned and loved this album, and yes, it may very well still be in my possession!)

1984: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Well, eventually it had to happen.  Now that I'm a mother, I'm not particularly looking forward to seeing it happen with my daughter, but yes, it does happen in every girl's life.

That point when friendships become .... weird.

Boys become.... {sigh} cute.

And girls get....giddy...just because one walks by.


Truth be told, I suppose my first "boyfriend" was back at that elementary level in "The Cooney School".  To save him the humiliation, he will remain nameless here, but I recall being outside at recess on NUMEROUS occasions when a group of us would gather and pretend to get married...and it was always this one particular boy and I who would run off throughout the playground after the "minister" pronounced us man & wife.

But that was just kids' stuff.  (Right?)

In 1984 I became much older and oh so much wiser...because after all, I was now in the 7th grade and for whatever reason, that was the year when everything became weird between boys and girls.  Being in 7th grade also meant that at the end of the school year we would look forward to the much anticipated 7th and 8th Grade dance.  It was a real dance, that was a real date (as much as having your parents drive you there could be), a real dress, with real corsages and having to pin on real boutonnieres.

This was a very big deal.

And it was going to involve {gasp} SLOW dancing!  With a boy!  (He wants to put his arms around me?  What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?)

As it turns out I was asked to the dance by the tallest boy in my grade.  Not just by a matter of inches - I swear he was already 6 foot tall in 7th grade!  Oh yes, did I mention that I was the shortest kid in my grade?  It was awkward at best.  And we just knew that everyone there was waiting for that first silly, slow romantic song to start playing at the dance because they all wanted to see how Candy was going to manage dancing with Keith.

As it turns out, we managed just fine thank you very much.

Keith, thank you for being the perfect gentleman on that night, and for many years after while we were in school together.  You still make me smile and laugh (even if you are a hockey fan), and I'm truly sorry that I bailed on what certainly would've been some memorable years together at Ohio Northern University.

If you'll please excuse me now, I'm going to go try to figure out how to keep my 7th grade son locked in his room.  I'm not ready for him to want to go to a dance with a {gasp} girl!!


1983: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

One of my favorite pictures (I have a lot of favorites, but this ranks up near the top), this was me serving my grandpa Parrish a piece of cake, apparently at Easter (as the cake appears to be in the shape of a lamb) or for his birthday in April of 1983.  Maybe it's because the "hair in rollers 'do" is actually pretty darn cute with the flower barrette mom put in that day.  But I'm pretty sure it's really because it's just me and grandpa.

Grandpa Parrish was a farming man.  When I was little they lived on a farm where you could still see the old farmhouse that was back by the barns.  Once he took me in his truck back with him to see the farm animals and even though I knew grandpa was a pig farmer (excuse me, "hog farmer") I was surprised to find him tending sheep.  Sheep?  Where'd these come from and what was their role in the life of a pig?  I have no idea.

Fast forward a few years, the family pork producing business was left in the hands of my uncle and grandma and grandpa moved into town and settled into a nice ranch style home.  

I remember when they moved in, I thought it was quite the grand house for a farmer and his wife to be living in.  A paved driveway.  An automatic garage door opener.  TWO bathrooms (one of which was a total man-bathroom complete with urinal and stand-up shower, the other was ultra-feminine for grandma and guests).  THREE bedrooms - I didn't understand why they needed three bedrooms when it was just the two of them and one of my uncles living in the house.  But the extra bedroom was handy when we would get to sleep over.  The living room and dining room each had accordion style doors that pulled out of the doorframe, which my brother and I found useful for when we would perform little concerts for our grandparents.  

I have many memories of spending time there and having to watch The Lawrence Welk show, Hee-Haw, and Big-10 sports.  Lots of little "parties" that grandma thought to have while we watched tv that included 7-Up in little champagne glasses, crackers and cheese slices.  I also remember having my first sip (it was only a sip, don't call child protective services!) of real champagne.

Grandpa had his own sense of style - many times we'd come in the house to find him sitting in his big overstuffed recliner in the plaid pants of the 1970's, with a completely different plaid style of the 80's.  It hurt to look at it was so horrid.  But it was grandpa.  Of course it was also just like grandpa to make a run from his bedroom on one end of the house, dressed only in his boxer shorts as he raced to the other end of the house to take a shower in the "man-bathroom", yelling the whole way..."Show and Tell! Show and Tell! Show and Tell!"  Grandma would be grumpin' at him to "Stop that Paul, that's not the kind of thing you should be doin' in front of the kids!"  and he'd laugh back at her, simply saying "Oh Bessie...."

If you had the honor of ever having a conversation with my grandfather, you know the kind of man that he was and what a privilege it was to know him.  He knew many people throughout the country, in AND out of the hog business, and he always greeted each one with a hearty handshake, a smile and would remember a story from when you had met before.  

But that's just the kind-of guy that he was.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

1982: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

At 10 years old, I was spending a LOT of time with my grandparents!  In 1982 they had been married for only two short years, but he was still "grandpa" to me.  Probably because I was too young to really know any better, and at that point in my life, my dad's actual father had not really been around and been a part of our lives.  This man, "Grandpa Wright" was always grandpa.

Grandpa was...different.  Especially growing up in northwest Ohio.  Grandpa was a native of the Hawaiian Islands, so he was very dark skinned, and certainly drew his share of looks.  Surprisingly, in my genealogy habit, I have not quite figured out when he made it over here to the mainland, let alone ending up in Indiana 

The two of them had met working in Indiana at Pokagon State Park, just outside of Angola.  He worked in the kitchen, and I remember her working in housekeeping, but I think...my memory kind-of fails me here, but maybe grandma worked in the kitchen at some point as well?  At any rate, that's where they met.  I remember when we would travel the short distance from our house to visit them - it was an adventure!  My brother and I would wander through the hotel that was on the park's property, the Potawatomi Inn, slightly superior because after all, we were the adorable grandchildren of two much loved employees there.

I look at current photos of the place now - it doesn't look a thing like it used to.  Driving in the main gate, the road would wind through the woods, before splitting - to the left was the hotel and restaurant.  Straight ahead was picnic area and the beach.  The road to the right led throughout the park; the trails, the camping areas, baseball fields, more picnic shelters...your typical state park.

The hotel/restaurant was very "1960's beach resort"...stucco exterior, red roof, kind-of a spanish looking architecture.  Through the main doors, past the check-in desk, around the corner and down the hallway that led to the kitchen door.  Lots of hugs for grandma and grandpa, usually showing up as they were finishing their shift.  While waiting for them, sometimes my brother and I would explore...walking up and down the halls of the hotel acting like we really belonged there.  How did we never get in trouble for being the annoying children wandering the halls like rug rats? 

Outside the main doors was a row of 5-10 additional hotel rooms, and across the lot was a 2 story older building.  A really old building.  When grandma was first working there, she lived in an "apartment" that wasn't even an apartment.  It was a single room.  I wonder now if it wasn't originally one of the rooms for guests way back when.  I don't know, but it wasn't fun to be stuck in that room when visiting grandma.  It was a bed against the wall, a pedestal sink, I'm sure there was probably some sort of seating area, or maybe even a small table and set of chairs - but I don't remember them.  Bathroom...I remember having to go down the hall to a community bathroom that the whole floor of apartments used.  Thankfully, once they married they upgraded to the main apartment that took up half of the first floor of the building.  A real apartment with multiple rooms and another door at the far end that was next to the woods...which usually meant raccoons could be found at their back door at any point in time.

Eventually our days visiting Pokagon State Park came to an end and grandma and grandpa did the next best thing to living in a cool state park....they moved next door to us!  Summers were spent riding our bikes down to their house and being fascinated at the house trailer they lived in, and the old greenhouse that grandpa had set up a woodshop in.  

Fun times...fun memories.  Every kid should LOVE going to their grandparents house as much as we did.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

1981: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

Think back in time with me, 1981 was a HUGE year!!

Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as our country's 40th president...

Immediately followed by the release of 52 hostages from Iran...

...and a short time later, an attempt was made on our president's life.

Pope John Paul II was also wounded in an assassination attempt...

The first woman was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court

And we saw the fairy tale royal wedding of a lifetime (or so we thought at the time.)

As for me?  

It was the year of puffy coats, still doing the curler 'do in the hair, and I was stuck carrying my big brother's Bible to church because he had to sprain his ankle playing basketball.

Oh...it was also the year for Mr. English.  My 4th grade teacher, my first male teacher of my school career, and he remains to this day one of my favorite teachers.  (Okay, there may or may not have been a slight "crush" going on at that time, but I resolved that long ago...really!)

 He had this thing where he would call on me in class to answer whatever question about the lesson at that time, and then just as I was about to open my mouth to speak he would break into the chorus of the Tony Orlando and Dawn song "Candida"..

"Wooah - Candida..."  

(That's all he would sing, just those few words, anything more would've been completely inappropriate, even given that it was a much more innocent time back then.)

It was just enough to send me into a giggle fit every time.


1980: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

(Yes, I'm behind...still having my 40 thoughts, just more than 1 today!)

I spent this last weekend wayyyyy out and away from the city of Buffalo, leaving suburban life behind and reconnecting with my early roots from when I lived out in the country.  (Yes, that's me in the beast of a truck in the above pic)  "Country" - as in, hearing the sound of tractors rumbling down the road, smelling the local livestock first thing in the morning, and waving at every passer-by because, yes, more than likely you do know them...and it's the neighborly thing to do.

Where I lived was not on a farm specifically, but I was surrounded by farms and farmlands.  My uncle and grandfather ran farms, and we spent A LOT of time there, and I am a proud consumer of all things pork because of it.  My childhood home was surrounded by corn fields or bean fields or wheat fields (depending on what was being planted at the time), I've spent my fair share of time playing hide and seek in the corn fields, and I've choked back the dust that was stirred up as the combine would roll through the fields.

To be completely honest, I was a country girl through and through until I got married and moved into town.

How country?  Old country.  I've mentioned before that I grew up on country music, and it wasn't like today's music - this was old school.  This was beyond old school.  I think a lot of it was old country even then!  Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Conway Twitty, Mickey Gilley, Ronnie Milsap, Willie Nelson, Eddie Rabbitt, Barbara Mandrell, and Charley Pride (just to name a few)...and when that wasn't enough, throw in some good old truck-drivin' "songs" - I use that term loosely, they weren't really songs, but more like narratives set to music.  Red Sovine with "Phantom 309" and "The Gear-Jammer and the Hobo", and of course, C.W. McCall's "Convoy."

Honestly, it's a wonder how I ended up with my keen taste of music.  Everything I learned about driving truck, dogs as best buds, extra-marital affairs and divorcing spouses came from growing up with country music....ya know, Katy Perry isn't sounding so bad anymore!  (I'm only kidding!  No Jordan, you are still not allowed to listen to her!)

So while I was researching what some of the top country hits of 1980 were, I ran across this one....which I remember I really, REALLY liked singing for god only knows what reason....but take a listen while I turn my sound up for old time's sake.  But just this once.

And then I'm going to find a Broadway show tune to clear my head.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

1979: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

August 1979, and all dressed up for church.  (Just remembering the nights of sleeping in rollers to get this desired 'do makes my head hurt.)

Today, I'm reminiscing on friendships.  Not just the current day-to-day ones.  Those are great when you feel you can call and schedule a pedicure with your best girlfriend (I just had one today!), but I'm talking about the lifelong friendships.  That one person outside of your family who you've known the longest and is still part of your life today.

The one person who has grown up with you.  Played dolls with you, had picnics with, sleepovers, and you were so comfortable around their house that you could easily have been one of the family.

And that's exactly how it was in the Towers' home.  Denise was my bestest best friend from the time I can remember, and I spent A LOT of time at her house.  (Since my dad was never big on other kids coming over to our house.)

    The most vivid thing I remember about her house was that she had a dog.  A BIG dog.  I swear he had to have been part wolf or huskie or something.  But to me...he was just a big dog.  Did I mention I was scared to death of dogs as a little girl?  I was.  Terrified, petrified, and hysterically in tears when a dog would come running.  And "Duke" was a big dog that I kept my distance from...but he never bothered me either.   (Good dog.)
     Denise lived in an old farmhouse, a great old house.  You walked in to this enormous kitchen where the table sat in the middle of the room.  I remember her mom always baking - cookies, pies, and lots of other goodies.  I always remember her working in the kitchen!  I also remember that her mom made the greatest homemade popsicles with kool-aid and jello mixed together.  I loved the lime-flavored ones!!
     To the right of the kitchen was a small room where Denise had bunk beds...and a dollhouse that her dad had made her with real carpet scraps for the floors.  To the left of the kitchen was the living room, where she had an old upright piano that I loved to just look at and wish I knew how to play.  Off the living room there was another bedroom I think?  That one is a little fuzzy.  But I do remember that there was a  door in the living room that led out to that front porch where we entered into the kitchen.  But nobody ever used that door.  It was always the kitchen door.  Why did nobody ever use the living room door?
     There was a door in the kitchen that hid a staircase, and when Denise's bedroom wasn't downstairs off the kitchen, it had been moved upstairs, which was also a cool room because it had a walk-in/closet/playroom area just off of it.  I loved this house!

Yes, the house was awesome....but so was the playhouse that she had in the backyard, and the barn...I loved climbing in her barn!  We had so much fun climbing in the loft, down in the (what do you call it?) basement of the barn, out the back door, running around to the front and starting all over again.  We were always being yelled at to be careful (it was a really old barn), and to NEVER climb around in there without shoes on.  I remember once standing in the center of an empty corn silo and just looking up.  It was so tall and ....empty!  Then I got a little freaked out thinking of being buried under tons of ears of corn, and I decided I didn't care to ever stand in one of those again.

Denise and I played for hours and hours together...and we were in school together, so we also rode the bus together.  Our families went to the same church so we were in youth group together, and went to summer camp together.  We both played the flute, we were both cheerleaders...but I have to give the girl credit - she was brave enough to venture into science and math classes in high school that I just didn't have the guts to take.

Yes, there were other friends, and after high school we parted ways when I moved away and she started college.  But we've always remained in touch in one way or another, although not nearly as often as either of us would like I'm sure...but it's still comfortable to just be who we are with one another.

And by the way...she turns 40 herself in just...13 DAYS!!!  
Happy Birthday to my dearest and oldest friend (A little early!!)


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

1978: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

In August 1978, I was in First grade at what was always known as "the Cooney School".  Mrs. Foster was my first grade teacher, and I remember getting into trouble for what I thought was merely helping my classmates with their math...apparently even just holding up the number of corresponding fingers to the correct answer was frowned upon even if I didn't verbally tell them the right answer.  Go figure.

When I think of first grade, I also think of my first "major" injury.  It was recess, and recess was in the gym on that dreaded day.  A group of us had gotten the brilliant idea to play Crack The Whip.  Again - this was in the gym.  Not the most intelligent thought of our 1st grade minds.

"Crack the Whip is a simple outdoor children's game that involves physical coordination, and is usually played in small groups, either on grass or ice. One player, chosen as the "head" of the whip, runs (or skates) around in random directions, with subsequent players holding on to the hand of the previous player. The entire "tail" of the whip moves in those directions, but with much more force toward the end of the tail. The longer the tail, the more the forces act on the last player, and the tighter they have to hold on.
As the game progresses, and more players fall off, some of those who were previously located near the end of the tail and have fallen off can "move up" and be in a more secure position by grabbing onto the tail as it is moving, provided they can get back on before some of the others do. There is no objective to this game other than the enjoyment of the experience." (Wikipedia)
Sunset Hills / Crack The Whip
"Crack The Whip" by J. Seward Johnson, taken by Blooms n' Twigs: Flikr
     It was a successful game in that yes, children were falling off the tail. Well, it was more like FLYING off the tail. Specifically, it was me who went flying...On the gym floor. There was blood, and crying, and wailing...and it wasn't pretty. Of course mom was called into the school, and grandpa came with her because mom can't handle the sight of blood.
     A visit to my doctor's office, and stitches in my chin.  I swear when I heard I was going to get stitches that would mean a needle and thread going into my chin and through my lower palate.  The only "stitch" I knew of was what I had seen grandma doing as she worked on her hand-sewn quilts.

Pretty certain my screams were heard down the hall, into the waiting room, out in the parking lot, and further on down the street.

The best part?  I got to do it all again the following year....same school...same friends...same chin...same number of stitches...same doctor.  Awesome.  And now I have a scar that looks like a little tic-tac-toe board on my chin.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

1977: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

I'm turning 40 in just a few weeks.  That's my motivation behind these recent blog posts.  In 40 days, can I find 40 memories or thoughts running around in my head about my life over the last 40 years?  You'd think it would be easy - after all, 40 years is a long time.  In that time, I've known a lot of family and friends...some mere acquaintances.  There have been moments that have happened that anyone would swear to never being able to forget. There have been eight different houses in 40 years, different towns in different states, saying goodbye to loved ones who have passed away, and making new memories everyday with my 3 kids.

So I'm sharing 40 years of my life with you - with various thoughts and memories of the people and experiences I have had while "growing up".

In August of 1977,  I was getting ready to enter the first grade - and I was apparently having hair issues as well...
Which leads me my next memory - the many times through the years we would take a trip down the road to Angola, Indiana to the Rainbow Beauty Salon where mom would get her hair done.  How I wish I had a photo of this place, even now as I sit here and remember the interior, a grin forms on my face as I shake my head in disbelief.

Back then?  I thought it was probably the most grand place I had ever been to.  It was in a the heart of the town of Angola in one of the older brick building just a block off the village circle.  So yes, when I say it was an old brick building...it really was.  And when I refer to it as a "salon" - that's exactly what it was in every sense of the word.  A salon where a woman of taste could walk in the front door and browse through dresses, choosing something spectacular for her date that evening, and then proceed on to the back of the salon where she could have her hair and nails done.   (I honestly can't remember anyone buying clothes there though except for the little old ladies that were there getting their blue hair tinted...probably the original customers from when the salon was first in business.)

Picture with me, walking into that back "area" (because although it was a room, it wasn't just a room - it was huge)  And this was a two-story building, but this back area was just monstrous, two-stories tall but without the second-floor...just one large open area with very high ceilings.  And it was pink.  Everywhere was pink.  And ornate golden scroll work...everywhere.  Standing at the entrance to the area, along the right wall were nothing but back black lounging chairs at the shampoo sinks.  In the center was an "island" (also very pink and very ornate) where all of the stylist chairs were - I think there may have been some around the perimeter of the room as well, but we always sat around the island.  Which was okay - we thought it was fun.  And the big "bowl over your head" hairdryers - a row of them lined the other wall.

The best description I can think of is to imagine French Renaissance interior merged with the home interior design of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"  (and yes, there was an abundance of statuary).


Got it?  Now....submerge it all in Pepto-Bismal Pink Paint, and you've got it perfectly.

For a little girl - it made me feel like a princess to be able to go there.

At this time, the movie Star Wars had opened just a few months prior in theaters, becoming an epic hit (for years to come!).   "Son of Sam", David Berkowitz was arrested for the murders of numerous New York City residents, and "The King of Rock & Roll", Elvis Presley, was found dead at his Graceland estate. I remember being right beside our stereo system at home when the news broke about this, and even at only 5 years old, I knew this was a big deal.  Although never a big fan of Elvis myself,  my parents had enjoyed his music for most of his career.  

The following is a special that aired shortly after his death on television -