Heart pounding
Body shaking
Hard to breathe
Thoughts controlling
Life is threatened

Fear is a horrendous thing
It takes over your life
It suffocates you
It consumes you

Like a low flying fog
That reaches its sinewy fingers
Willing its way toward you
To engulf you

And you can’t
Try as you might
You can’t
Get out
Can’t get away
running toward nothing

So you think and you dwell
Then you change things
You don a protective necklace
You wear a glove to write and
play your favorite game
You remain inside your home
Afraid to take a step outside

You give in to the lie
Thoughts in your head
Telling you to be afraid

And sometimes it hides
But you know
In your heart
It will be back.

(There are so many children and adults today suffering from anxiety and OCD. It’s a silent, but agonizing disorder that is often overlooked.  Awareness, patience, and understanding is key to helping them).  Thank you, Linda!


How Do Spiders Know It’s Spring?

I wrote a slice last night that I was going to use about saving a sparrow.  But I’ve changed my mind.  This, being the first day of spring, reminds me of the first spring day last year. I saw my first spider of the season, both today, and last year at this time.  What is THAT all about?  How do spiders know today is Spring???

I hate spiders.  As much as I like other living animals, most of God’s creatures, in fact,  I HATE spiders!  And flys and mosquitoes.  I used to lie awake at night if I had seen a centipede in my room and was too slow to smash it to smithereens (which is kind of cool to see, by the way) with a flyswatter.  I often get centipedes from the crawlspace.

The spider I took care of this morning was kind of a cute little thing.  I almost felt bad putting him to rest.

The Ice Cream Man

In the summer of 2010, I bought a house.  A shell of a house, actually.  But after hunting around for what seemed like forever, I followed my brother, a carpenter/construction expert, into this unfinished rehab.  He exclaimed, “This is the one for you.  This is your new house.  You can start from scratch and make this into anything you want.”

We did.  The family did.  My  brother, Mike, was the mastermind.  He went with me on countless visits to what had become my favorite stores – Menards, Home Depot, and Hobos.  He was the contractor on the job.

His employees:

a plumber (my son-in-law, who that first day jumped down into the rat invested crawlspace without a second thought and installed a whole new plumbing system)

a security salesman (my brother-in-law who spent almost every weekend of his summer, working on my house rather than relaxing at his cabin by the lake)

a fireman/roofer (my other brother, who very nearly got attacked by the squirrels living in the attic)

a retired electrician (my 80 year old father, who loved to design, invent, and draw blueprints)

an estimator/fabricator (Jim, who fortunately liked to man the old wheelbarrow we used as a barbecue grill to make hot dogs and such, besides doing other odd jobs needing to be done)

an MRI specialist (my sister who hated painting, but did it anyway)

a mother/wife (my daughter who didn’t mind getting her hands dirty with any job necessary, and was there without fail, with two small children in tow)

a machine operator (another brother who did odd jobs to assist)

and various other family members and friends who belonged to this project

What a summer!

Each weekend, late in the afternoon, an ice cream truck could be heard from a distance.  All of the kids, and an adult or two that needed the much deserved break, would head towards the usual stopping point near my house and wait. He probably made more money on our block than any other during the weekends that summer.  I will never forget the comment this ice cream man made towards the end of that summer.  He exclaimed, “I love this part of my day.  Watching all of you, obviously family, working together, laughing together, and enjoying each other’s company in the midst of all the hard work. There is such a bond that is present here.”

He was right!  Our family is a strong one, deeply committed to promoting the happiness and welfare of each other. We are all different, we have our differences, but we come together in need, and we spend a lot of time enjoying each other’s company. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am blessed!

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As I was walking out of a primary classroom with my IPad in tow, I realized Pandora’s Nursery Rhyme station was still playing.  All of a sudden, I heard a very familiar song that had me stopping in my tracks and smiling. Skinnamarinky dinky dink was being sung in the high, sweet pitch of children’s voices. It brought me back twenty-seven years, like it was yesterday.  I was walking with my daughter and her little three year old friend, Nikki.  They were on their tricycles singing that song.  As they sang certain parts, Michelle would stop her bike and bring her arms up in the movement they must have learned in pre-school.  At the time, even as I was probably a little impatient with all the stopping, I must have found it pretty cute, because the sweet feeling I felt today had to come from somewhere.  

I wonder why some moments come back so clearly while others are completely forgotten.  I wonder if we take stock of that moment in time, and purposely place it in a special part of our brain for later retrieval.  Sometimes, it seems like that happens for me.  As if I am saying to myself, “I want to always remember this feeling, or this sight, or this special connection.”

If so, I wish I had purposely saved a lot more special moments for later retrieval.

No Alligators, You Say?

ImageAs I was leaving my aunt and uncle’s condo this afternoon, I noticed a picture on their table.  It was a copy of a picture taken in 1986.  I asked if it was a picture from our canoe trip.  My aunt said yes, and the conversation and laughter started flowing.  Bits and pieces of that memorable trip were new to me now.  Either I didn’t hear it, remember it, or it was purposely kept a secret.   For instance, I didn’t know the 13-foot alligator, not more than fifteen feet away from us, was called “Big Moe,” or that it “hadn’t been known to hurt anyone yet.”  Seriously????

My Uncle Ron had taken this canoe trip once before and encouraged a crew of fourteen family members (a few of us Midwesterners on vacation who didn’t know any better) to go with him to Ocala National Forest for a four hour canoe ride on a spring-fed river.  When we kiddingly asked if there were snakes and alligators in the river, he said yes.  And we laughed.  We KNEW he wouldn’t take us on a dangerous trip.  He was a nice guy.  After all, he and my aunt babysat for my cousins (a family of six kids) and us (a family of six kids) quite often, at the same time. On one of those babysitting weekends, we showed him a monstrous pile of something (vomit or poop, not sure) from the Turner’s dog, Sandy, so that he would clean it up (we sure as heck were NOT going to do that…we were kids).  Instead, he laughed, figuring it was a plastic dog toy put there purposely to fool him and stepped in it with his stockinged foot.  We laughed, and he laughed with us. Didn’t get mad. Nice guy.

I guess he got us back, years later.  After a two hour trip north to Ocala, Florida, we got out of our cars, chose our canoe partners, and off we went to find our canoes.  There was a little sign that said “Beware of alligators and snakes,” or something to that effect.  The girls in the group stared at Uncle Ron accusingly, and all he had to say was, “I told you that.”  Seriously????

Seven canoes started down that river. We started out at an inlet that only allowed passage of one canoe at a time. Little sun filtered through the thick foliage.  If you didn’t pay attention and lean way down low in the canoe at times, you could easily get smacked in the head by a spider filled branch.  I was just told (another piece of new information) that we were probably the first group of the day.  That is why there were still so many huge spiders in  enormous webs on those low hanging branches.  It’s probably why one humongous, possibly poisonous banana spider, larger than an adult person’s hand, fell into my sister’s canoe, startling both her and her husband, causing them to jump out.  It also caused them to forget, for an instant, about the alligators and water moccasins. The river wasn’t deep there, just very murky.  You couldn’t get back into the canoe without finding a patch of sandy bank to steer the canoe to while wading almost knee deep in what could very possibly have been quicksand. I felt terrible for them, but secretly relieved that I was in a canoe with someone as petrified as myself, because it made us extra careful. It didn’t hurt that we were both the praying type. Towards the end, my cousin, Carol, and her husband, decided to take a short cut.  We saw them from afar, and didn’t understand the reason for their panic, until we saw the large log near them move, or at least what we thought was a log.  It was an alligator.  They had no choice but to row, ASAP, back to our group.  One by one, every canoe tipped over at some point.  Every canoe but one. That happened to be the canoe carrying my aunt and myself. We have an envious group, and the people who got to the shore first started running towards us.  My aunt and I are no dummies and knew their plans, and we also saw how crystal clear and devoid of snakes, alligators, and all-things-icky the water was at this point, ten feet from the shore.  We chose to dump ourselves over and run.

I’m not sure how long it took before we, the girls, at least, were able to laugh about this little adventure, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t right away.  Today, we had a lot of laughs.  I can’t wait to revisit this memory with my cousins and sisters when we visit them over spring break, sitting safely, Margaritas in hand, at an outside café off of Siesta Key Beach. 

Palm Trees Swaying

In a little over a week, I will be on my way to Florida. I fell in love with the state on my first trip there during Easter vacation in my eighth grade year.  Eight of us, Mom, Dad, three brothers, two sisters, and myself all piled into our station wagon and away we went.  I don’t remember much about the car ride down, other than doing schoolwork in the car, and passing over the Swanee River of song.

What I remember most was the “arriving.”  We arrived at my grandparent’s winter home in St Pete Beach in the late evening.  As we scramble out of the car, I heard the sound of the warm breeze blowing through the palm trees way above us. I don’t think I had ever heard, seen, AND felt something so wonderful all at one time.  I’ve loved palm trees ever since. And, of course, Florida.  The fact that we were seeing our grandparents for the first time in three months was pretty exciting too. When I see a palm tree now, I feel that night, and remember.

Grandchildren With A Blog

Plans suddenly changed last night , and I had a chance to pick up my grandchildren for a pajama party.  My thought was to take Casey and Matt, leaving Brynn and Teagan with their mother, but my daughter looked so tired, so I took Brynn with me also.  Don’t get me wrong. I love Brynn dearly, but I don’t have the energy for her after a long day’s work.  By 7:30, after eating dinner, “sleeping” in Ahma’s bed, doing puzzles together, reading books, and playing cows, Brynn was ready to go home, standing at the door with Casey’s backpack on her shoulder.  On FaceTime, Michelle asked her multiple times if she wouldn’t rather stay at Grandma’s house instead. I won.  Michelle came to pick her up.

With just the two older grandchildren, I was able to sit down and read some slices while nine-year-old Matthew watched some Youtube video on Minecraft, and six-year-old Casey continued to write in little books she made from cut up sheets of paper, stapled together.

It wasn’t long before Casey shared her writing with me, and I shared the slice I had written about her.  Matthew immediately wanted to hear what I wrote about  him. They both decided they wanted a blog, too.  I thought, “Why not? One of our teachers set up a blog for each of her first graders, and they are slicing.”  Casey, in the last two days, wrote 22 little books, complete with pictures, so she was more than ready. And Matthew wants to become a famous fourth grader, writing informational pieces about Minecraft and Animal Jam, just like Skylander Boy and Girl. SkylanderBoy and Girl, along with their crazy, fun father have Youtube videos that often have Matthew and Casey in stitches.  Matthew tried the Youtube venue but didn’t get many hits, so he gave up.  Maybe he’ll become famous blogging.

So the rest of our evening was spent coming up with email addresses and wordpress accounts, phone calls to my daughter for verification codes sent to her phone, changing themes, etc. 

Matthew and I tried looking on a Minecraft blog site to see what needed to be done, but didn’t get too far.  He went back to his Youtube video.  After trying to write a blog, Casey decided she liked paper and pencil better. And I went back to reading and commenting on slices.  I’m not giving up, though.  I just have to do some research to find the perfect blogging site for each of them.

By the way, If anyone in our slicing community got a comment on their slice by an unfamiliar name (casemadmay), THAT was me.


Corky, the Chucky doll.

My sister and her husband own a cabin on Lake Thunderbird.  We spend lots of time there in the summer.  One spring, a few years ago, Kathy and I went there for the sole purpose of getting the place ready for summer visits.  The basement was just a place to throw the items (junk) you didn’t necessarily want to get rid of, but you didn’t want it getting in the way either.  My items (junk) also seemed to end up there along with other families’ stuff (junk).

We decided it was time to clean out the basement and make it more presentable for company: carpet, curtains, ping pong table, couch, etc.  Jim, my brother-in-law, knew we were going there on this particular weekend. Being a practical joker, he put an old, big Corky doll (reminded me of Chucky, actually) into a cooler to scare us. Corky was a gift given to their son years ago when he was little.  I suppose, at that time, it wasn’t so scary.  But throughout its life, it has lost an eye, looks a bit beat up, and has a scary looking grin on its face.  When I opened the cooler, I was quite startled.  Kathy and I both had a laugh, and decided to return the favor, so we hid Corky in his bed, under the covers. He often went to the cabin himself during the week and would discover it before anyone else.  This became a continuous prank for us.  Whoever discovered Corky would come up with another plan for him.  Corky was seen sitting on a bunk bed with a flashlight shining up eerily at his face, in the pantry stuck in the midst of bags and boxed food, a suitcase in the guest room, even in the boat by the lake.  I think the best prank was when my daughter and her family were leaving the cabin.  They spent hours making a contraption that would have Corky flying at the front door from the basement staircase when the door opened. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall to see Kathy’s face when she walked in that door.

I doubt Corky will ever be considered junk, but instead will be forever part of our treasured “cabin stories.”

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My Father, the Silent Inventor

My father could have been an inventor.  Actually, he was, many times over. He just never took it to the “As Seen on TV” level or beyond. He sees a need for something, and he works on trying to find the fix.  For instance, lint was clogging up the sink from the washing machine, so he made a lint collector out of perforated steel to hang over the edge of the washtub.  He designed lights that hang in my trees, shining up at night.   My father likes to garden, so he made a contraption using a wheelbarrow, umbrella, and who knows what else on it.  We used to have lockers in the junior high that consisted of two parts, top for books, and a bottom part for coats, book bags, and such.  Invariably, the upper locker would get stuck at the end of the day, and a student would panic for fear of missing the bus.  It wasn’t long before I had the perfect tool in hand, consisting of the handle of an old paint roller with a portion of a shelf bracket, flattened on one end, attached to it.  The tool worked like a charm to pry open the lockers.  It became a popular tool in the junior high.

My father has always been an outside-the-box thinker, and as much as his offspring tease him for his quirky ways, we have learned so much from him.  His memory is not what it used to be, but he is still going strong at 84. I wonder what he’ll come up with next.

He Won’t Let Me Near

The little black cat
the one that’s afraid
has a large wound by his eye

He won’t let me near.

I look through binoculars
and it looks really bad
he’s been in a fight

He won’t let me near.

I begin to wonder
where is the tabby
is he all right

He won’t let me near.

I run for my coat
I open the door
the tabby is eating

He won’t let me near.

The black cat is waiting
for the tabby to leave
for me to leave

He won’t let me near.