Saturday, April 30, 2011 for Zinnias

Look at them! How can you not love them. I will be the first to admit that they are not fragrant at all.....but the colors are so vibrant and alive!! My mom loved Zinnias and had bouquets of them all over the house.

Every year, she planted a huge flowerbed of nothing but zinnias in front of the barn. I think we had zinnias in just about every color possible. The flowerbed got full sun all day long and was a perfect spot for them. The bright array of colors could be seen from the road and when you pulled in our driveway it actually made you smile. Don't believe flowers can do that? Well, they can.

Every time I see zinnias, I think of my mom. Those are certainly fond memories. I sure do wish I could plant them here, but I live in a heavily wooded area and they would never grow without a lot of sunlight.

So, I settle for buying bouquets of them when I go grocery shopping. They make you happy and put a smile on your face just to look at them. They are one of my favorites. And you have to admit......we all need something to make us smile when we visit the grocery store nowadays.

There.....I've done it. This is "Z". I hope you've enjoyed taking the trip through the alphabet with me. I've made some new friends and I extend my sincere thank-you to all who have visited and especially to those who have left comments. I hope you will continue to come back again and again. Take care and no matter what, "keep smilin'".

Friday, April 29, 2011 for Yankee

Even though I was mostly raised in the "north", at the time of my birth, my mom was living and working in Richmond, Virginia. After the war ended and Dad was discharged, we moved north where the family farm was. I always wished that our farm had been located there in Virginia or south of there because I'm not a fan of snow or cold.

I have always loved things "south". I love how they talk (I lost my southern accent after a few years living in the north), I love their recipes and I love their hospitality. In particular, there is nothing on the face of the earth more charming than a "southern boy". If I was going on a blind date and I found out he was from the south.....I liked him already. I dated three southern boys before marrying one of them.

It was in the early 60's and after our marriage, we went 'south' to meet his family. They could not come up north for our was too costly for them plus his parents weren't in the best of health. He has a sister who is 5 years younger, which made her 15 at the time. She couldn't wait to meet her new sister-in-law (me). I will never forget when I met the family. They were very nice to me and used that grand southern hospitality to make me feel very welcome. Then his sister had a couple of her girlfriends come over to meet me....they were also 15. It really threw me when the one little wench threw up her hands and declared....."I just can't believe that JR married a YANKEE". (they are big on using initials for names down there). She said it like it left a bad taste in her mouth....but then chattered on about how much she loved my hair. It was an awkward moment and I experienced discrimination for the first time in my life. Oh I could have been mean and come back with a nasty remark.....but why and besides, I wasn't that kind of person. Here it had been 100 years since the Civil War and it made me wonder if all that hatred is still being secretly nourished and encouraged to grow. She was probably listening to bitterness from her grandparents. We have enough problems in this I hope those feuds have been put to rest. I love the south and her people.

And thinking about it, years later, it dawned on me.....I wasn't a Yankee.....I was born in what used to be a Confederate State. Besides..........being a that such a bad thing now. Especially for those of us who weren't even alive during the 'war'.

Thursday, April 28, 2011 for X many things

X is not only a letter of our alphabet, but its the Roman numeral for 10, as well as the legal signature for those who cannot read or write.

It can also stand for the X-Files, which was one of my favorite TV shows.....ever! It can stand for kisses or simply to mark a spot on a map. It can also stand for an 'unknown'.....such as "x" amount of dollars, etc. etc.

But I guess, for the purpose of the Challenge, I will talk about X being the legal signature of someone who is illiterate.

I wrote an essay in junior high school which placed me neatly in Advanced English for the next three years because my teacher was so impressed by it. The essay was about my grandmother and her struggles in a world that was pretty much alien to her. (He encouraged me to take up Journalism, by the way....but I decided on taking Art instead. Yeah....that was a wise choice.)

My grandmother (my father's mother) was a peasant woman in her native land. She did not know how to read or write in her own language. After coming to America with her son, who was then 16, she picked up on enough English to barely get by but she never did learn to read or write. She lived with us her entire life and my father took care of her after she was widowed. My dad communicated with her in their foreign tongue. Back then, I didn't give it much thought.....that grandma couldn't read or write. I gave it a lot of thought once I graduated and was out in the working world.

I am a Notary and see a lot of people who need their signatures notarized. Once in a while you get an unusual request. Not only do I have to see proper picture identification, I will not notarize something unless the person "signing" fully understands what they are signing. They don't have to explain it to me.....I just want to know that they understand the paper. You would be surprised how many people do not understand what they are about to sign. If someone cannot read.....then it goes without saying....I cannot notarize for them.

The point I'm trying to make....more than anything the fact that we have so many people that can read and write.....but their education is so limited, either by their own actions (drop-outs) or because of inadequate school systems and they simply slipped through the cracks. This is a crying shame. I've seen teenaged boys who cannot spell simple words, let alone read them. What happened? How did these children slip through the cracks. You cannot drop out of school in elementary school......why weren't these deficiencies caught and remedied when they were young. Because no one cared.....that's why. (and I'm including parents in this) And this brings another thing to mind.....our elementary schools here no longer teach cursive. My grandson has a 17 year old friend who cannot sign his name....he can only print because he's never had cursive. When did schools drop this? My granddaughter who is now attending a private Christian school is taking cursive right now.

Somehow, these almost illiterate people think that if they can read well enough to play a video game.....well, then that's all they need. I'm telling you.....its downright scary when you think that this generation is going to be running the country someday. I'm going to get off my soap box now......and send a bunch of X's your way. Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 for Writing

and I love to write. I not only love writing, I love the materials used to do so. Pens, pencils, paper, diaries, notebooks....I love them all. When I was much younger I would put my thoughts on paper and it was not meant for anyone else to read. Later on I used that method to "vent". It helped me so much, I can't even begin to tell you and I highly recommend it. Sometimes you can figure out the answers to your own dilemmas just by re-reading what you're written.

Soon, I discovered that typing helped me keep up with the words that flew out of my mind and I began to keep journals, typing them and putting the finished product in binders. Computers were heaven sent, as far as I was concerned. I could type, do corrections on the fly and even insert pictures in my journals, which I wrote out on a pretty regular basis. I didn't mince words either.....if I was angry, it went in there. I haven't written any of those daily journals in a few years now. Every once in a while, I'll take a binder down and read it just to remind myself of what my life was like back then. Some of it is pretty eye-opening. The blog has more or less substituted for the journals but of course I can't put everything in a blog.....I can only skim the surface.

A good friend of mine talked me into going to a specific website where a picture is shown and then you have to write either a poem or vignette using that picture as inspiration. She is a very talented writer and she enjoyed contributing. So, I did it and received so many compliments it amazed me. Even though I classify myself as a "moody" writer, (I have to be in the right mood in order to write well) I probably would have kept up with writing there except for an unfortunate incident in which a blogger friend (not the one who encouraged me to write).....someone I thought was a friend anyway...... hurt me deeply by making accusations in reference to my writing and it hurt......I didn't deserve it and it really did hurt. My faith forbids me to hold any animosity toward her so I don't but I also don't need toxic in my life.

So....."W" can also stand for "whew" and that must be said, while wiping my brow. I've nearly finished the alphabet and I've tried to pick things that were off the beaten path, so to an attempt to make each one interesting. I must admit that W was the hardest one to write. Perhaps it was because I had this bad memory associated with it. Maybe by writing about it here, the wound will now completely heal.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 for vehicle owned and loved vehicle, that is. I come from a family who are sentimental car owners. We often keep our cars for long periods of time, especially if they were purchased new. My grandmother named her vehicles, which were always thought of as female. Cars, boats and ships are referred to as "she" or "her".....I wonder why that is. Anybody know the answer to that, I'd love to know the reason.

My parents also named their vehicles, but treated them as part of the family in addition to that. I'm surprised that mom didn't take a food tray to the garage for the car to have dinner! She was very sentimental over all their vehicles through the years. She put a horseshoe from my horse under the driver's seat so luck would travel with them and made throw pillows for the back seat to match the upholstery. When they would return from a long journey, mom would pat the car's dash as they exited at home once again and thank "her" for a safe journey.....after offering a little prayer of thanks to God first of course.

Well, when you're raised with more or less follow suit. I am sentimental with my vehicles too. Most of them, that is. The ones that I bought used and gave me trouble.....I had names for them all right, but none of them could be considered terms of endearment. On the other hand, I did have a couple used ones that I did feel a deep attachment to. My very first one, of course.....simply because it was my first vehicle, a 1957 Ford. Oh how I loved that car!

Another was a Corvair. Probably not too many people remember them....but I loved mine. The engine was in the rear like the VW. It was a smaller car and my barely 5' frame fit nicely inside. The gas mileage was unbelievably terrific. I especially loved the "gas" heater, which was INSTANT heat. We would get out of work in the dead of winter and while everyone else was bitterly scraping ice and snow, I could sit in a toasty warm car and let the defrosters do the work. I would be ready to go and down the road several miles before anyone else could start putting their brushes and scrapers away. I got hit in the rear by an idiot who wasn't paying attention and after that was fixed it never seemed to be the same. Shortly after that, on the way home from my job at the bank after midnight, the engine caught on fire and that was the end of my little car. No cell phones back then as I frantically ran from door to door knocking and pleading with people to call the fire department. Most of my pleas went unanswered, thus wasting a lot of time.

I had another used vehicle that I loved; a 78 Mustang with T-tops. I drove it for years and then sold it because the transmission was starting to go. I hope someone got it that planned on restoring was a beautiful car. By then I was a struggling single mom and my dad felt bad for me. He bought a car for me in 1987, a new little Buick Skyhawk. That car was one I had several names for, none of them complimentary. I think it was a bit of a lemon but didn't want to get rid of it for fear of hurting my dad's feelings. A few years after my dad died and after years of cussing at the car, I ended up giving it to my daughter as it was better than what she had. (she was forewarned of its temperamental attitude) Many years later, she gave it to her boyfriend (now an EX, thank God and all His angels), who managed to get it impounded and never went back to get it. (easy come, easy go)

In 1994 after giving her the Buick, I bought a new Pontiac Grand Am V6. It had 11 miles on it when I drove it off the lot. I still have that now has 49,000 actual miles on it and still runs like a charm. I love that car and was really dismayed when I found out they were no longer going to make them.

I, too, pat the dash when I arrive home from a journey safely, after first giving thanks to God. Our family vehicles always get the required maintenance when its due and they are garage kept. I've never named her though and that's kind of a shame since she's been a respected member of the family for 17 years.

Needless to say, my daughter has followed suit. She had to leave her vehicle in a business parking lot one evening when the alternator went out. During the night, her beloved car took a beating because a group of teenagers mistook it as belonging to a guy they hated (we found that out years later but they were never caught and/or punished). Windows, headlights and tail lights smashed, 2 tires slashed and the hood and grillwork beaten with what appeared to be a baseball bat. The inside had the radio stolen and then the dash kicked out and everything broken that could be broken. My daughter cried because it was like having a family member beaten up. Her cousin, bless his heart, fixed many things at no charge....just for the parts. We never could get the driver's door fixed and it no longer opened. The car ran for her for another two years after that, the front end all beat up and ugly, and it was still running when she sold it very cheap because it looked so bad. Having only PLPD insurance on it, she couldn't afford to fix it herself. The Durango she bought to replace it has now won their hearts. Its also garage kept and thanked for safe journeys but it has full coverage insurance.

Well, I've revealed a family secret....we are sentimental vehicle owners. Are we just a goofy family or do you do things like this too?

Monday, April 25, 2011 for Uncle

and, after Uncle Sam, that word brings to mind John Candy's portrayal of commitment fearing Uncle Buck. If you've never seen the movie, rated as a comedy, you should check it out.....I'm sure you'll love it

Personally, I think of my Uncle George. Uncle George was not actually my uncle (both my parents were only children), but he was definitely related though. He was my dad's mother's aunt's son and was within a few years of my dad's age. They felt more like brothers toward one another. Every other year we journeyed to Ohio to see him and his family and on the years we didn't go there, they came here. This man was genuinely loved by his step-kids, family, friends, neighbors, employers.....well, everyone loved Uncle George.

The story about him was a little shaded though. Seems as though he came into the U.S. by way of Canada. Once there, he was only a 'river away' from getting into the U.S. Seems as though he and a companion actually rowed across the Detroit River in the dead of night. They were very young....maybe 15 or 16 at the time. I'm not sure why he did this.....possibly something about his paperwork being incomplete. He managed to make his way to Ohio where he knew people that had promised to help him if he could get that far. He eventually got his paperwork straightened out, took citizenship classes, passed the test and became a citizen. He served in WWII, became a medic on the battlefields. After his honorable discharge, he began his education to become a male nurse. After graduation he secured a job working for a hospital where he eventually met the woman he married. She was a widow with five children. He married her and raised those kids just like they were his own. He loved children......and children all loved Uncle George, including me.

Uncle George lived long enough to make fond memories with my children too. My only regret is that we didn't live closer so that we could see him more often. Uncle George, of course, spoke with an accent and his voice was sort of softly hoarse. He sounded just like Marlon Brando's rendition of the Godfather. It became an inside family joke......saying that we were going to get "Uncle George" after you. Ha.....since my ex never met Uncle George in person, I think he was always a little bit unsure about what "Uncle George" may do if called upon. I never corrected his perception as I found it quite to my advantage. But Uncle George was a good man.....through and through.

Oh....and since we are on the subject.....does anyone know where that old saying, "cry uncle" comes from when you want to admit defeat in a fight? Just curious.

Saturday, April 23, 2011 for Time

which is about the most valuable thing you can think of. If it could be bought, it would be different....but it can't. No matter how wealthy you are, you cannot purchase Time.

It can be your friend and it can be your enemy. It can heal and it can ravish. It can create and it can kill. It can reward or it can punish.

We've all heard the saying, "Time flies" and the older you get, the faster time seems to go. What you choose to do with time is entirely up to you. Wasting time or using it to your advantage....those are your decisions.

For once time has been used, you cannot get it back. No matter how much we wish for it, once its gone.....its gone. So all the people who lust for silver and gold or property to make them rich beyond their dreams.....they have not stopped to think; time is much more valuable than any of those things because it simply cannot be bought. And no matter how wealthy you are.....if Time decides to take away your wealth, it can.

So use Time wisely dear ones......respect it and give thanks for the good times for they are a gift.
And if you celebrate Easter.....make wonderful memories with your family = good times.

Friday, April 22, 2011 for Secrets

Oh is there anything better than a bunch of women with some juicy gossip to tell? Not so good if you're the one they are gossiping about. If you're not.....then its pure delight. Don't believe in that old myth that its only women who love to spread gossip because I have known some men who can put gossiping women to shame. Its like telling CNN when you tell them something.

I'm not a spreader of gossip but I will listen to it and not comment. I make it a practice to only say something about a person that I would say to his or her face. So I have to think before I speak.... always. As a confidential secretary I was exposed to more secrets than the average person. I can honestly say that I never revealed one single thing that was told to me in confidence. Its always been important to me to have people trust me.

I not only carry a good reputation in the work-world as someone who can be trusted, but my friends and family knew they could also vent to me and it will go no further. Sometimes.....I will have to admit.....I would have rather not known some of the things that were told to me. I could break up families, friendships and marriages with the knowledge I have and that's not always a good feeling. Sometimes its a heavy burden to carry.

Many years ago, I drew the picture that is attached to this post and named it "Market Day Socializing". For obvious reasons, it appeals to me. It was also the colors I used for my living room at the time. Whenever I look at it, I'm reminded how secrets, known by the wrong people, can destroy someone's life and can take on a snowball effect.....getting bigger and more out of control as it rolls around from one person to the next. 'Tis better to just keep your mouth shut and your ears open.

Thursday, April 21, 2011 for Restaurant

and family type restaurants are my favorites. When I was working, I would meet my friends after work and we'd sit and chat over coffee. It was so much fun and I have great memories associated with all those times.

My closest friends have moved way or another and so I don't go to restaurants much anymore. Its also getting pretty expensive to do so. Most of the time when we just don't feel like cooking, we get a bucket of chicken or pizza and bring it home to eat. I do enjoy having breakfast out though and we try and do that every 2 or 3 months. Even with our small family, that outing can make quick work out of $35. when you include the tip. I've noticed that within the last two weeks, groceries have gone up dramatically in price. The last time we bought our lunch at work, the prices had jumped so much that we decided it would be far cheaper to just bring our own from home.

But R can also stand for RECIPE and I have a wonderful one for you. Its my mother's recipe for Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. It is so moist and delicious, you will want to make it again and again. Its a scratch cake, but don't let that scare you.....its as easy as a box cake.


3 cups flour

1 ½ cups sugar

1/3 cup cocoa (unsweetened)

2 ¼ tsp. Baking powder

1 ½ tsp. Baking soda

1 ½ cups Hellmann’s Mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)

1 ½ cups water

2 ½ tsp. Vanilla

Dash salt

Mix dry ingredients into large bowl. Stir in mayo. Gradually stir in water and vanilla until smooth. Beat 5 minutes.

Bake 9x13 pan, 350 for 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

When cool, frost with your choice of frosting. This is very good with Chocolate frosting.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 for Queue

which is something we've all had to do and repeatedly have to do it, some of us on a daily basis. I will admit that I've only had to wait in a line longer than the one pictured just once in my life......and that was enough. It was in 1970, during the time General Motors could not seem to settle their contract with the Union and the 'strike fund' ran out of money to help the workers. Arrangements were made for each union worker to receive help in the form of 'food stamps'. Each family received an amount based on their need (i.e. how many children you had and how much money you owed). We, with all required documentation and proof of our status, had to wait in a line that stretched down the block around the corner of the building and then down two more blocks. It was awful but thank goodness it was during warm weather and not in a blizzard. Both you and your spouse were in line, if you were smart. That way one could leave and get food, drinks or go to the bathroom and the other one could hold your place in line. The union workers were like a 'brother-hood' and if someone was there alone, we would hold their place as long as they weren't trying to pull a fast some people did try. (trying to give friends and extended family cuts) You know how to goes.... unfortunately, there always has to be someone who will try to cheat.

I hate waiting in lines and will go out of my way to avoid them. Some people take waiting in stride and I guess that's really the best way to be. But tempers can flare when you lose your patience waiting. I remember one Christmas I was waiting in a long line at a store in the mall that did not offer shopping carts. I was about 12 or so from the register and must have had at least 20 people behind me. I was tired, having worked all day, and standing on my feet with a bunch of purchases in my arms put me into a high threshold of pain. These two young women (early 20's) decided to step in line in front of me and found out really quick that although I look like a sweet motherly type.....I have a temper when provoked. I had half the line up in arms over them taking cuts and they were soon forced to leave in order to save face. The rest of us (most of us female, I might add) put our pitchforks and torches down at that point and let our minds once again drift away so as not to think about standing in line.

I have found that even when stores install "new technology" so they can brag that waiting is to a minimum now because of faster registers or more registers, etc. .......they sabotage the effort by reducing the number of employees they have to process you, therefore not as many registers are open. Its all about the money.....its always been that way and probably always will. So we are back to square one. How about the "self-check-out" areas. Originally promoted to reduce waiting time. Well, now the lines are just as long there....heck if I'm going to WAIT just for the privilege of doing the check-out work myself so I can pay THEM money. Its like self-serve gasoline. WE do all the work and pay inflated prices for the privilege, after waiting your turn, that is.

I have a favorite grocery store where I've never waited for more than one person ahead of me in line. Its a smaller, family owned store and I don't know what their secret is but it makes grocery shopping almost enjoyable.

I don't think we can ever get rid of the queue. As the population keeps going up, we will wait longer for service. The internet has really helped in those areas. I pay 99% of my bills online and there is no waiting. I wonder how long that will last.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 for Proof machine operator

which was my second job at the bank. I took this position because it was more money for one thing and, secondly, for the hours. The bank was beginning to computerize and new proof machines were purchased and utilized. Those machines would imprint the MICR encoding along the bottom of the checks. (MICR means magnetic ink character recognition) You will see it now along the bottom of your checks; it depicts the bank's routing numbers as well as your personal account number. The MICR proof machine adds the amount the check is written for in the extreme right bottom corner. The checks go through the computer so fast there are bound to be "rejects". Checks ripped or folded or ones that have been subjected to water or food or maybe just a smudge of dirt may be rejected but they still have to be processed. This is where the proof machine pictured comes into play. It does not MICR imprint but it does add and sort. These were the machines exclusively used before the MICR imprinting was used and now they are used to process the rejects. In the second picture you can see just how big these machines are.

I had trained in high school to do secretarial work; I could type 90 words a minute and take 120 words a minute with shorthand. (once I started working, I only used shorthand one time, so that was almost wasted knowledge) Anyway, I was offered the job of processing the rejects utilizing this machine, which had nothing to do with typing and shorthand. I did not know how to operate it at the time, but I guess they felt I'd master it sooner or later. My hours were 6 pm until we finished. Yes, that part was nice. I got paid for a 40 hour work week but a lot of times I worked much less. If we had a good night where everything balanced, we could finish up and be out of there in about 4 and a half hours. Of course, if we had a bad night, we could be there for 10 hours and there was no overtime. Mostly, we averaged about 6 and a half hours a night, with shorter hours on Wednesday and Saturday since the banks were open a half day on those days back then. And since we worked nights, after the bank was closed, we didn't have to dress up. We could go to work in casual clothing.

I loved this machine. I loved everything about it. I had to run each check through, adding it up using the 10-key adding machine and then push the correct sorting slot for it to go into as I put it in the machine. There were 32 sorting containers on a big wheel inside the machine. That was accessed by a small door on the side of the machine. (you can see the 32 sorting buttons in 4 rows of 8 situated left of the numerical 10-key keyboard) We didn't use all 32 slots.....if I remember right, I think we used only half that. The back of the machine opened up to reveal 32 rolls of adding machine tape, one for each sorting slot, that carried its own balance. I was good at what I did.....I could accurately process 1,600 checks an hour. My fingers flew! After I was finished with the checks and everything balanced, they were then sent to be microfilmed, which is the first job I did. (see post "M")

I worked at this job until I was 8 months pregnant. When my youngest was 5 and I wanted to go back to work, I inquired about getting back into this same department, but things had once again changed and now each branch was doing their own proof, which took a lot less time and was handled by an employee who did other functions there as well. It just would not have worked out for me, so I brushed up on my typing skills and ventured elsewhere to job hunt.

What was/is your favorite job of all time? Have you had the experience of training for one type of job only to land in another kind of profession entirely? I did end up my work career with secretarial work but I still hold a fondness for that proof machine. I think the reason could be that no one bothered me with any demands.....I got all my work as it came down from the computer room in the "reject" batches and simply did it. I was not interrupted and since I was the only one working at that hour who knew how to run that particular machine, I was given a lot of respect. And running the machine was FUN. Especially when I hit the total key after each batch and it balanced.

Monday, April 18, 2011 for Open Door

which is an organization that makes arrangements for foreign exchange students to be placed with host families. In the late fall of 1990 I decided to become a "host mom". It was an extremely emotional.....but extremely rewarding experience.

After I registered with the organization and went through all the background checks I was mailed a list of all the students waiting for a host family. Because my father was an immigrant, I felt sort of a kinship to the countries closely related to his. There were several students from Croatia and when I saw my 'far-away daughter's" face, I picked her.

She was 17 years old and in her last year of school. She gave up graduation with her friends to come and graduate here. I know her parents had to be so nervous....sending her so far away. But they shouldn't have being the "mother hen" that I am. Of course they didn't know that.....then. They knew that her flight was coming in to "Detroit" and when they read that.....they were worried even more. Seems as though Detroit even has a bad rep over there. Her mother didn't speak English so I couldn't talk to her.....I spoke with my 'far-away daughter" on the phone prior to her flight and assured her that I did not live in or near was just the closest International Airport. It would take about an hour for us to get "home".

A friend of mine who had been hosting students for several years and had one that year from Sweden, took me to the airport to pick her up. He also took his student with him. That turned out really well because she could speak Italian and so could my girl. I know it had to make her feel so much better to speak a familiar language with someone her own this strange country. They chatted like magpies all the way Italian. I loved hearing it!!

I got her home and we began to break the ice. It was January and deep snow was everywhere. She spoke 5 languages fluently. And I later found out that, in her own school, she had already had all the subjects and material covered in her classes here. This is proof on how behind our educational system is. She was a straight A student and kept that up while she was here. The work was a breeze for her since she'd already had she was educated in our culture instead of academics and she loved it. She especially loved peanut butter as they didn't have anything like that in Croatia. She bought cookbooks to take back home with her, and mailed packages of peanut butter and other goodies back there. I took her to the huge flea market in Nappanee, so she could observe the customs of the Amish. I took her to see "Cats". She made friends with another senior who invited her to go along with her and her family to see her grandparents in Florida for a week during Spring break. They drove so she got to see quite a bit of the United States.

We became very close. My children felt close to her, especially my daughter. My daughter is about 6 years older and had just had her first child so she even got to hold a newborn. That newborn is 20 now. I never hosted another student after that because when she left it was so emotional. My daughter and I cried all the way home from the airport and cried often in the weeks that followed....we had gotten so attached and missed her so much. We knew that we would never get to see her again.

We keep in touch through e-mail and it makes me happy to know that she's well and happy. She has an impressive career, handsome husband and 2 beautiful children. As soon as her daughter learns English, we are going to set it up so she and my granddaughter, who is the same age, can email back and forth.

So, even though it was a rewarding was a sad one when I had to say goodbye to her. She was crying too. What a mess we all were!! She is my "far-away" daughter and nothing will ever change that. God-speed....and God Bless, dear one. You know you're loved over here, across the this little family whose hearts you captured and keep with you.

Saturday, April 16, 2011 for nightmare

I'm pretty sure everyone has experienced a nightmare at least once in their life. Some people have them regularly, some only have them once in a blue moon. I'm lucky in that respect as I've only had a few. However.....those few that I've had were extremely vivid. I have awakened with tears on my face, gasping for air, my heart hammering rapidly and awakened quietly glancing around the room fearfully looking for intruders.

I dream in color and was surprised to read that many do not. However, dreaming in color only makes the nightmares more intense and realistic.

Some say that nightmares are caused by what you ate before you retired. Some say they can be caused by recent books or movies you've experienced. I suspect its a little of both plus a pinch of what we secretly fear thrown in for good measure. When I saw the picture I've put with this post, it brought back something I hadn't thought about in years. My fear of "something" under my bed! My mother used to get so angry at me for taking a run from my bedroom doorway and jumping into my feet were never close enough for "something" hiding under the bed to grab my ankles. I never had that fear the next morning when it was daylight. She would straighten the mattress and covers and show me that there was nothing under my bed except for maybe a couple dust bunnies. I could see she was right....but that didn't mean that "something" couldn't get under there by the time it was.......dark. I don't worry about anything under my bed anymore, but I still do have nightmares once in a while.

I'm very happy that, on 98% of my nightmares, I can only remember a tiny portion.....usually the part that woke me up with a start. Even that much will usually be forgotten by the time I've had my morning coffee. However, there are some dreams and some nightmares that are so real and so......vivid....that I remember them and their intensity for days.

Do you think that dreams come true.....can they predict the future? I have never had a prophetic dream but I think there could be people who do. I've had some really wonderful dreams that I just didn't want to wake up from. I've also had dreams that were so good.....I've gone back to sleep and continued on right where I left off. Nightmares.....on the other hand.....are not dreams we want to continue and so after waking from a nightmare, I usually won't go back to sleep right away. I'm not taking any chances!!

So here's a wish for you from me.......sleep well, dream sweetly and wake refreshed.

Friday, April 15, 2011 for Microfilm

or microfilm machine operator, which was my first job at the bank. When some people heard the word "microfilm" they immediately thought of espionage or spy thriller novels but my experience with it was to simplify filing and reduce storage space. I was 17 years old and in my senior year of high school, when I qualified for the co-op program; I could work several hours a day after school and it counted as a credit. I was graded on my job performance determined by a form filled out by my boss. So this country gal went to work in the city, at the main office of one of our largest banks. It was nice because I got paid for it, as well.

What the picture depicts is not exactly the same machine I used (we had three of them) but its very close. The checks went into that feeder she's resting her left hand on. It could film about 400 checks a minute but you had to watch and make sure nothing overlapped or jammed. If it did, you had to redo them. To alert the person who was "reading" the developed film, you had to advance the film by turning that handle on the machine that is just about eye level with the girl in the picture. (the film spool is located behind those little doors) After the advance, you would then re-film the check or checks that had overlapped and/or jammed, then advance the film some more before you continued on with the rest of the batch you were filming. The filmed checks came out into that basket looking tray located under the compartment where the film spool was contained, stamped with red ink "Paid" and the date, along with the name of the bank.

We could never dress like this woman. We wore smocks to protect our clothing as it was a dirty job. The red ink was permanent and paper in large quantities is dirty, believe it or not. Since you were filming, things had to be kept clean inside the machine. Mirrors and glass, not to mention the rollers in the feeder, had to be maintained daily. After the checks were all filmed, they were packaged up securely and left in a locked box in front of the bank for pickup and transit to the local clearing house by a Brink's armored truck.

This job was actually sort of boring as jobs go but I was certainly happy for the opportunity to enter the work-world via the banking industry. I did not greet the public, I worked behind the scenes but I learned a lot while in their employ. After graduation I was hired full-time and after a few months I transferred to the Proof Department (I'll tell you all about it in the "P" post), where I worked for 5 years doing something I really loved. If you have to might as well do something you love, right?

Thursday, April 14, 2011 for Lilacs

Its nearly Lilac time again. How I love love love their sweet fragrance! On the farm where I grew up we had some massive lilac would be more appropriate to call them trees, they were so tall. My mother, who loved bouquets of fresh flowers, would have several vases filled and displayed in different parts of the house.

My taste in flowers is actually quite simple. I love daisies for their endurance, lilacs for their fragrance and zinnias because they give out happy vibes. Who can look at a brightly colored flower and not smile. The fragrance of lilacs brings back a wealth of memories, all of them fond.

Where I live now there are some massive lilac bushes. I have one next to my driveway and since I live in a heavily wooded area it has struggled for years to produce a bloom. Finally, about five years ago, the very top of the bush was tall enough and received enough sunlight that it bloomed, to my delight. It has bloomed ever since.

Further down from me to the west, there is a row of huge lilac bushes along the sidewalk. The sidewalk that mysteriously is only one block long and has been that way for over 40 years. When the west wind blows, the fragrance comes with it and it is intoxicating. Always a reminder that warmer weather is very close at hand. To the east of me, about a quarter of a mile, there is another huge stretch of lilac bushes that run alongside the road. This is where my daughter always stops and picks me gigantic bouquets of lilacs. These bushes must be at least 25 feet tall.

At my daughter's house, she planted a row of lilac bushes as a natural barrier between her house and the neighbor's. The bushes have grown to a great height and are filled with luscious blooms, whose fragrance drifts into her kitchen window and doubles nicely as a privacy fence.

My only regret is that the blooming phase does not last very long and we have to wait an entire year to enjoy them again. When you see the bushes in bloom, close your eyes and inhale deeply. Savor the sweet fragrance for its nature's introduction to summer and a wake-up call to the other flowers. Summer, as you know, is the time for Mother Nature to show off all her colors.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 for Keepsake

How many of you have keepsakes? Those little things that, by themselves and out of the realm of your memory, are nearly worthless...but to you, they mean the world.

I have locks of my babies' hair and baby teeth. I have a napkin from a restaurant where I had coffee and conversation with a love interest. I have a silly little wooden postcard from my first boyfriend. I have a charm from a machine at the dime store imprinted with my own and my best friend's names from back in the 60's. I have a tiny trinket box from an old friend of my parents. I have beads and ribbons and pins. A strip of pictures from the booth at the five and dime. A dog collar from my first dog after I was married and the bell charm from my precious cat who lived to be 17. Pressed flowers, movie tickets and old valentines. Each one holds a dear memory.

I have many keepsakes and throwing any of them away is absolutely out of the question. What does one do about that? I have come to the conclusion that I will leave that job to my daughter as most, if not all, of my keepsakes mean very little or nothing to her. She will have to handle that after..........

I wonder, as we've had to clean out keepsakes from older relatives, if the items could only talk. If they could tell us what they represent and the memories associated with it. Don't you think that would be a wonderful story? I believe that a keepsake dies when the owner does, as the memory associated with it is no longer there. It just becomes an item once again and, unless you have a memory associated with it to keep it alive, it can then be discarded without emotion.

Do I purposely take out a box and go through all my keepsakes? No I do not, as they are not all together. I have them tucked here and there through-out my house. I come across them randomly and when I do, I let the sweetness of the memory take over. Some of them are so strong, I can even smell the fragrance associated with certain events. That freshly cut hay from the barn for example. The memory has my attention, all to itself.....which it deserves and that breathes new life into it so it will not fade. All memories are potent but bittersweet ones are the strongest....don't you think so? Yes, I am sentimental......I can't imagine being any other way.

What are some of your treasured keepsakes? Do you keep them all together or do you scatter them like I do? Sometimes its just plain good for you to stop and remember.......those cherished memories.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 for Jerks

We've all come across them. No matter where you live and no matter what your personality or where you are bound to meet up with a jerk sooner or later. Some occupations seem to attract more jerks than others but even if we're just going to the grocery store.....or heck....just walking out to the mailbox....we can come across one or more. Sometimes there are a bunch of them together in the same car. Jerks seem to attract other jerks. I think its because they are the only ones who can stand to be around each other.

I was thinking......(always a dangerous thing)....wouldn't it be great if all jerks wore a nice bright red t-shirt like the one pictured? That way we would all be forewarned and could go the other way, pretend to be busy or claim you don't speak the language so you don't have to deal with them. Of course.....jerks being what they are....they oftentimes just pick you out to vent on and its a surprise attack. Sometimes what they are venting about makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to anyone but them. So the shirts would definitely be a plus.

I worked in law enforcement at the desk and was the first person that was seen when one walked in the door. Can you, in all your wildest dreams, even imagine the type of jerks I ran into on a daily basis? Some were worse than others. A lot of them just ran their mouths, others threw things and wanted to maim and destroy, still others were all indignant and blamed everyone else but themselves (usually the officer) for any crime they committed and were ultimately arrested for. I can honestly say that I've been called every derogatory and/or obscene name you can think of and some you may not even know exist.

In order to co-exist with such creatures you have to take the stance that they are just a menace, something like measles or the flu. Or, if you prefer.....pestilence. The main thing to remember is that they feed on inter-action and so if you don't fall into that trap, they will soon tire of their rants and go away. Best thing to do is just to get a blank look on your face, nod your head and say uh-huh a lot. I've never found a pesticide you can use to rid the area of jerks. One good thing is that most jerks are not exclusively jerks. They can be halfway decent until something sets them off. It can be something as trivial as the bus being 2 minutes late or the price of bread going up. Usually impatience is a key factor. And unfortunately, mom and dad jerks usually breed little jerks who grow into adult jerks. The Jerk population seems to be growing at a rapid rate...... Lucky us.

Monday, April 11, 2011 for Instant

and also for the impatience that occurs when instant isn't instant enough.

We live in an instant society. We have become so used to things happening quickly that we have lost our ability to wait....or at least to wait without being frustrated and annoyed. This is something that sort of sneakily developed over a period of time.....common ordinary events or requests were being fulfilled faster and faster to an ever-more demanding public. Somehow our memories of having to wait .... (gasp)....DAYS..... for something has dimmed. Our patience has flown the coop.

The computer has a lot to do with it but it actually started way before then. I can remember when I was a kid and if a food item had the words "instant" on the mom was all for it. Anything to save time. Remember Tang, the instant orange drink? Remember Instant Coffee? To my coffee-loving mom.....this was the greatest invention of all time. Radios started coming out with 'instant on' features and soon TV more waiting for the tubes to warm up because there were no longer any tubes.

Now we are so used to just pushing a button and within a second or two we have our result. FAX machines can send documents across the nation in a minute or so and you can email your friend on the other side of the world in seconds! Snap a picture and see it within a couple seconds. No more waiting a week or so for developing. We have taken all this instantaneous-ness for granted. We expect it everywhere. We don't want to wait for anything.

But sometimes we have to wait. Government is famous for making us wait....they are especially fond of the "we never received your request, please re-submit" excuse. Thus delaying the receipt of the information you are seeking. Grocery store lines can be frustrating, especially if you're tired and you're in a hurry. Appointments to see the doctor....sometimes I've waited more than an hour past my appointment time. Traffic is a major problem and in our instant society, I know being stuck in a traffic jam must be akin to being tied down on a fire-anthill to some people.

Do you realize that your minor children and/or grandchildren have never known anything different than an instant society? They have never really had to wait for much. I saw evidence of that when my grandson came to visit me for a few weeks one summer. He was very impatient and even had trouble waiting 3 minutes for microwave popcorn.

As you know, everything has limits and I'm seriously wondering when its going to stop. When will we have reached our limit on 'instant'.....and when we do, what will all these impatient people do then? "Wait" will have been removed from their vocabulary and an internal meltdown could be imminent. I can see where doctors will be prescribing plenty of tranquilizers sometime in the future......after you wait to get in to see him. In the meantime, make time to stop and smell the roses.....and kick impatience to the curb.

Saturday, April 9, 2011 for housewife

I did this for a while. I was working when I got married and so I continued to do so until we had our first child. By then we had saved enough to buy a small house in a subdivision filled with similar houses. And in those houses lived families about our same age who ended up having kids about the same age as ours.

I did the housewife gig until my youngest child was ready for kindergarten. By then we had moved to a larger house to accommodate our larger family and we owed more money. It was necessary for two paychecks. Of course I couldn't make it simple and just get a regular job. Noooo......I had to obtain a job that required me to switch shifts every 28 days. When I think back on it......I really don't know how I managed it. But, to tell the actually gave me a little rest from all that housewife-ing I had been doing for all those years. The only thing I regret about going back to work is that it takes you away from your kids and they really do need you to be available until they are at least in their teens......when they are independent and know everything. Ahem.

But this post is about being a housewife....someone who stays home and manages everything. People (men) who think that housewives do nothing all day are out of their minds. I was the first one up and the last one to go to bed. It seems like I was always busy doing something. But I honestly feel that I was a good housewife. I didn't burn any dinners and the mistakes I made around the house were honest ones (like the time I put marine varnish on the kitchen floor because I couldn't get a good shine on it with wax). Or the time I carpeted an entire hallway with pieces of carpeting I got for free which were no larger than 6" each. I nailed them down with carpet tacks. It honestly looked really good when I was finished. Years later when the new owners discovered it, they thought I was insane. (I heard this from the neighbors who still lived in the subdivision).

But I was just trying to make my home look nice without having to spend money we didn't have. And.....hey.....that kitchen floor was the envy of the neighborhood when it finally dried.....three days later. (honest!)

Friday, April 8, 2011 for guitar

I am in love with guitar music. Not the stuff where they go crazy and end up slamming their instrument to the ground and destroying it. I'm talking about smooth, easy, dreamy stuff. I love the blues. Blues music speaks to me. As does acoustic Spanish guitar.....the slow stuff that enters deeply into your soul and warms up your senses. I often put this type of music on, close my eyes and drift away. Sometimes I think it saved my sanity.

I am a senior citizen but I love Slash. Yes I do. He is tremendously talented. I bet a lot of you don't even know who he is, but he used to play with Guns n' Roses. He was the one with the long curly hair and the top hat. You never could really see his face. I don't like everything he plays....but some of it really speaks to me. (Listen to "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns n' Roses sometime) I also love Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd. Comfortably Numb is one of my favorites.

When my kids were teenagers they were a bit surprised when they found out that I liked "some" of the songs from some of the bands they listened to....most of them hard rock or heavy metal. Usually, though, the songs all had one thing in common....awesome guitar solos. I like country songs too and if they have an awesome guitar solo, so much the better! Easy Rock is my old stand-by but some of the songs stand out....Bob Segar's "Like a Rock"....take a listen to the guitar solo in that one. It always gives me goose-bumps.

So close your eyes and listen to the video I've attached. Its only a minute and a half long but you'll feel so much more relaxed afterward. Try it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011 for family

Personally, I don't think there is anything more important than family. I always wanted a huge family....maybe that's because I came from such a small one. My mom was an only child, my dad was an only child and I am an only child. This means no aunts, uncles or cousins for me as well as no siblings. I dreamed of meeting my perfect soul-mate and having at least four children. Well, I met the guy I eventually married on a blind date and after a few dates, he told me that he was from a family of sixteen! Wow.....I was envisioning the family reunions right there and then. Of course they never least not to the extent I was hoping for.

Realistically.....Life is not The Walton's and the amount of dysfunctional families out there is amazing. Being raised alone, with no siblings, I had no idea the kind of resentment that can brew within the confines of a large family unit. My husband advised me that out of all his siblings, he was only close to one brother, three years his senior. They had lived in the deep south all his life but now most of the siblings were scattered across the nation. He and his brother relocated here to my state in search of work and the rest is history. (I was the YANKEE of the family). I was determined not to have just one child but after my second one, I knew that I would be foolish to have more. My husband and I were not compatible at all. He was definitely not my soul-mate. We tried for years to make it work, but.....eventually we had to call it quits. I have since come to terms with the fact that my 'soul-mate' probably died in Vietnam, because I never did meet him.

That split resulted in a split of the feelings of our children. Our son blamed me for "ruining" everything with divorce, where my daughter understood and sympathized with me and my reasons. They are grown now and each is a parent. However, the division has continued. It deeply saddens me.....maybe more than some people because of my belief that family is a number one priority. I am happy to say that my in-laws (his brother and his wife) still consider me family and treat me as such. They have never blamed me for calling it quits. I am a cross-eyed optimist, I guess.....but I am hoping that, in time, my children will be close.......or at least closer than they are at present. I also wish that my son were more attentive toward me, but my daughter works twice as hard to make up for the fact that he isn't. God bless the day I had her for she is my joy. As it stands now, our family reunion could take place in a teacup and we'd still have room for the band.

So, all of you who have large families....enjoy, enjoy enjoy. You may get frustrated once in a while over something "Aunt Millie" or "Cousin Olive" did or said.....but they're family and they belong to YOU. Pass the potato salad please......and, oh yeah - Keep smilin'!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 for equine and equestrian

and those words sound so sophisticated for such a fun and laid back event. At least that's how it was for me. I know there are occasions when it involves lots of money and years of training and the horse is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars....but, for my own experiences, I'm talking about just the LOVE of riding. To get on a horse....most of the time bareback....and take off with the wind blowing in your hair, is one of the best things you can do for your heart and soul.

When I was 8 years old, my grandmother asked me what I would rather have.....piano lessons or a horse. What a ridiculous question! Even though I wish I could have done both.....of course I took the horse! Horses are a lot of work though. I was fortunate that we lived on a small farm so we had the room and the barns. My mother had previously owned horses so she was experienced in the care and feeding, as well as how to ride and saddle. The horse pictured is actually my horse and I owned him for 8 years. When I was 16, I sold him to a woman who was buying him for her 6 year old and I know he went to a good home.

When I owned him, I would meet up with other kids my age who had horses and we would all ride together. We loved to play "hide and seek" in the wooded fields. The rules were that you could not get off your you not only had to find a place to hide had to also hide your horse. So many times the horses would nicker to each other and betray our location. It was a lot of fun, as were the rides we took that stretched for miles on narrow, gravel country roads. We would stop along the way and have a picnic and we always remembered to bring along carrots for the horses. Of course they always had grass to munch on, so they weren't hungry.

I can't even begin to explain the feeling.....the ultimate freedom....of riding a horse. I would ride in our back fields almost daily and then over to an adjoining farm frequently to enjoy an additional 80 acres there. There were paths all through woods and around a small lake. It was so peaceful.....and absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Just me, my trusty horse and my faithful little dog. How I wish I would have had the forethought to have had a camera with me. The pictures I have are only in my mind now. I have cherished those years all my life and can feel a smile slowly creep over my face as I think back and fondly remember. Just the sound of his hooves methodically hitting the ground and the squeak of the leather saddle under me.....the birds in the trees, ducks from the lake and the jingle of my dog's collar tags. When I'm stressed......I go back there mentally. I know I am so lucky to have these memories. So much so that I forgave my grandmother for tearing that picture out of the magazine. LOL (reference to the B post)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 for Drive-Ins

Oh my generation sure did love drive-in movies! I can't believe that almost every one of them are closed now. It was a wonderful date for teenagers. Lots of time to "neck" and if you didn't like your date that much, you could always watch the movie!! It was really convenient for families too. Mom and Dad could get an evening out without having to pay the babysitter.....the kids came right along. We'd fill the car with snacks, popcorn, pop and candy brought from home so we didn't have to pay the high prices there. The kids, dressed in pj's, hugging their blankets and stuffed animals, would snuggle back in the car and usually would fall asleep within the first hour or so.

The trips to the concession stand weren't so great....especially if you had to use the bathroom. Seems like there was NEVER any toilet paper left by the time it was your turn to use the facilities.....and WHY was that entire floor always wet? But it was a small price to pay for all the benefits you got. We always saw dozens of people we knew. The girls would all gather around the big mirror and discuss their "dates", while refreshing their makeup and ratting their hair up a bit more. A few sprays of Aqua Net and you were good to go.

Back in the late 50' heyday for was a simpler time. Gas was about 15 cents a gallon, max, and you didn't have to pump it yourself. We would 'cruise' different drive-in restaurants looking for all our friends and then, if something good was playing, we'd all end up at the drive-in movie....after burgers, cokes and fries of course.

I have a lot of fond memories of those times. I know those of you who are my age have those same fond memories. I will never understand why they did it ..... and WHO decided to close them up anyway? It seemed like they were always crowded and doing a good business. I just don't know. What I do know, however, is that its MISSED.

I have noticed that some drive-ins are making a come-back. In our town we now have a drive-in restaurant similar to those of my youth....complete with carhops. This is totally different than fast food drive UP windows. Also, drive up banking has been popular for quite a while now, as well as drive up prescription pick up. But I really do wish they would bring back drive-in movies.

I have heard that there are a few still in existence. If you're lucky enough to have one in your town....enjoy it to the max. Remember the heaters we had to hang in the windows when it was winter? They did keep us warm. Either that or it was our teenage raging hormones that was keeping us warm. I remember really getting into trouble with my parents while on a date with the man I ended up marrying. We both fell asleep at the drive-in and woke up with a start. We were the only car left in the lot and the people who ran the place were on their way to our vehicle to find out the problem. We quickly put the speaker back on the pole and left. No cell phones back then.....and I was 2 hours over curfew. My mother was beside herself with worry.

Yes, it was a simpler time and I loved it. I'm grateful that I lived during that era. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Maybe a wealthy entrepreneur will take a chance and bring back the past.

Monday, April 4, 2011 for Commercials

Ah the land of TV Commercials! Commercials are irritating mostly because they are taking you away from a program that you actually want to view....even though they do offer an opportunity to quickly run to the bathroom or to the kitchen to grab a drink or snack. Commercials are not that long if you check each one individually....but on a commercial break its not uncommon for 10 different commercials for 10 different products or services loudly trying to persuade you to buy buy buy.

I have seen commercials that I just love, however. We all remember "Mikey", the commercial I have pictured. That commercial stayed in our memories for years and in so doing.....the product they were advertising stayed in our minds. (Life cereal) I love emotional, touching commercials. Make me cry and you've got me hooked. Anything with animals seems to be a good bet. Humorous commercials are great also. How many of you remember the Alka Seltzer commercial from so many years ago....about the HUGE dumpling that the newlywed saved and froze for her husband? I have many favorite commercials and kudos for all their writers.


There are an over-whelming amount of commercials that just plain make me mad. I realize that "s-x sells" and that is probably one of the main problems in our country today....but that's for another post at another time. So many commercials are just that. Nothing but s-x. (I'm not spelling it out completely because I don't want to be a google hit for the s-x seekers.) Anyway, have you seen the commercial that shows nothing but a young woman's behind in various poses and articles of clothing.....mostly underwear..... and the commercial turns out to be an ad for SHOES. This almost sent my brain into vapor lock. Then heaven help you if you watch daytime TV. I really try not to. The commercials will nearly fry your brain. The constant bantering about suing....for big money.....BIG money. Fall down your steps at home?.....are you a renter? Then SUE your landlord and get BIG BUCKS. Neighbor's dog growl at you? SUE. This has led to anxiety and loss of sleep and your health has deteriorated. Blah blah blah. In these days of people looking for easy money this just plants the seed. I've had two claims against my homeowner's insurance and both parties (spread out over a 20 year period) didn't carry it through because it was discovered they were "enhancing" their so-called injuries. Afternoon TV is almost nothing but lawyers and "get out of debt".

In my opinion, such as it is, if they all stuck with humor the product or service would be remembered and the commercial would actually be watched. Who doesn't love the little dog with anxious dreams about his precious bone? The song alone is a winner. Good job, Traveler's Insurance.

Saturday, April 2, 2011 for Books, Books....everywhere

.......and not enough time to read them all.

I have had a love affair with books my entire life. My mom told me that I used to sit on the floor when I was just a toddler and carefully look at magazines....not even wrinkling a single page. One day my grandmother saw me looking at a picture in a magazine that she thought was not age appropriate. Back then, it sure could not have been anything racy but, nevertheless, she bent down and ripped the page out of the magazine right before my terrified eyes. Mom said I was heart-broken! She related that I cried and cried for what seemed like hours. So my love of books, magazines and pictures has been around since before I can even remember.

I once had a sweatshirt that read "So many books, so little time" and it stated exactly how I felt. One year when I was in my teens, my mom had a birthday cake made for me. It looked like an open book, much like the picture in this post. On it she had written "Oh give me a good book to read and let the rest of the world go by". Yes, my mom sure did know me. But then, I inherited my love of books from her.

I probably own over 500 books....maybe more. All but a handful are hardcover. I have two stacks of books in my guest room that are each four feet tall. These are the books that are waiting patiently for me to take one in my hands and become friends with it and the joys it holds inside its covers. And, seems like there is "too little time". Every time I get the stacks reduced a bit, I add more to them because new books have come out that I just MUST read.

I love the feel of a book in my hands and the smell of a brand new book. I will often just open one up and bury my nose in it and inhale deeply. I know this all sounds crazy.....but this is just a little bit of my personality. However, I do own a Kindle. I like the convenience of throwing it in my purse and always being ready to start reading. It will never replace an actual book for me, but I've grown rather fond of the convenience. Good grief.....a Kindle can hold over 3,500 books....or so I'm told anyway. I have about 15 on mine right now. Its also quite common for me to have several books going at the same time. I think the most I've had going at once has been 3.

My son does not read books at all. He's missing so much. My daughter will read voraciously when she's in the mood. She devoured the entire set of Philippa Gregory's Boleyn series in just a few weeks. My grandson is a reader but doesn't read too often. Hopefully, my granddaughter will enjoy reading enough to do it often.

So I am very grateful to all the authors out there......for, without them, we would have no books to enjoy. With them you can escape anywhere in (or out of) the world. Anywhere your heart desires and never leave the comfort of your living room.

Right now I'm reading The Passage, which is can't-put-it-down terrific........ and on my Kindle, Torn the second part of the Trylle Trilogy. which is just a fun- easy reading fantasy story, but it does hold your attention.

Thank you to those of you who welcomed me to "The Challenge". I hope I can follow through. I, too, am looking forward to reading new blogs and meeting new people so I can add you to my list of awesome bloggers that I've come to know and love. Thank you again for your warm welcomes! Enjoy the weekend and find joy in the fact that Spring represents new life and that can also be interpreted to mean, "A new look on life". Keep smilin'.