Sophie's Cattails #1 - Sophie Says

It's Six Word Saturday... but I'm not going to say anything, because...

It's Sophie's Turn to Blog Today!

Hi Everyone!  Last night my Dad (that big guy Mom refers to as Papa Bear) suggested to Mom that she might have more time to do a few other things she enjoys if she'd let up on the blogging a bit.  Well, we all know that's not going to happen, she's pretty much addicted.  I came up with a brilliant plan though, and offered to guest write a blog post for her now and then so she could at least appear to be doing other things... like maybe a bit of housework on Saturday (novel idea)!  Really, our house is covered with cat fur, she should do something about that! (My suggestion would be to get rid of the four other cats.)

Today I think I'll tell you a little more about me... When I first came to live with Mom and Dad, they had this other cat named Emily that they rescued when they first moved in together.  Mom had this notion that Emily was lonely with them both gone at work all day, so she convinced Dad that Emily needed a sister.  (Their mistake was in not asking Emily how she felt about this.) 

Mom and Dad are big on adopting rescue animals, bless their hearts. Mom tells me that she scoured the area shelter ads looking for just the right addition to their family.  She has a thing for Maine Coon cats, as we are known to be friendly, gentle, and beautiful... that's me to a T! (I don't know what went wrong in Emily's case, must be bad genetics - she had the looks, but that's about all I can say for her!) 

Mom saw my picture at the local SPCA and convinced Dad that I was "the one".  I didn't know it then, but I won the cat lottery that day!  They actually got one of the shelter workers to open up one evening so they could come and meet me. When they let Mom into our big jail cell, she immediately spotted me curled up in a basket with about a dozen other cats hanging out around me in the cage. I felt a lot safer in that basket! For reasons I don't understand, other cats tend to pick on me.  (Mom says that animals and people tend to prey on those with gentle spirits, ones they can easily bully.)

The girl at the shelter told them I was about seven years old, and that my previous family gave me up because I didn't get along well with other cats... the truth is that it was never my fault!  Mom picked me up out of the basket, and it felt so warm and wonderful to be held in someone's arms again.  She held me close.  I licked her hand and started to purr, and she was hooked.  Dad was watching and that won him over too.  The moment they carried me out of that building I knew my life was going to get much better.  I sat on Mom's lap in the car and purred. I wasn't the least bit scared, I could tell they were good people... cats know those things.

We got in the house and I looked around and saw the cat tree, all the toys, the windows, and lots of space to spread out in, and I just knew I'd found my forever home.  Mom and Dad decided to name me Sophie.  Looking back at my pictures, I looked pretty scruffy when they first got me, my fur was ragged and I hadn't bathed in days.  Hey, would you bathe with a dozen sets of eyes staring at you like you were dinner? 

Before long my fur began to grow out and shine, and they tell me that I'm beautiful now... though I overheard Dad say last night that I am one foot square - a snarky comment about the unfortunate fact that I am a bit short in length and height, and a little "fluffy" around the middle.  Hey, don't call me fat! Mom and Dad aren't exactly skinny either!  When I was with my first family, they had my front feet declawed. That surgery was a botch job and I ended up with white fur covering just the very tips of my toes. My paws are small anyway, so now I look like I don't even have toes.  Mom nicknamed me Sophie No Toes. Very funny (not), but she also calls me Sophia Marie at times, and I think that's very elegant!

Not long after arriving in my new home, while checking out my surroundings, I had my first encounter with the Green-Eyed Monster... and I mean that literally! I see this Maine Coon cat coming toward me and I'm thinking... "Hey, one of my clan, how cool!"  But "Emily", as they called her, was no kin of mine... she was a demon in Maine Coon disguise!  She took one look at me and threw a hissy fit the likes of which I've never seen!  Turns out she really liked being a spoiled rotten only child and had no desire for a sister or playmate.  The honest truth is, she hated my guts.  She was high-strung to begin with, and was so jealous of my laid-back personality.  I quickly became Daddy's girl, adopting his lap as my permanent resting place whenever he's home.  That pissed Emily off all the more.  Mom said to give it time, that she would adapt and become my friend.  She never did. Emily never missed an opportunity to glower at me, chase me, beat me up, or make my life miserable. 

When Mom's beloved old cat Stormy came to join us 'cuz his Dad lost their home, I welcomed him. I'm actually pretty friendly toward other cats and people too. But another cat in the house to compete for attention was just too much for Emily, she was grumpy and depressed all the time. Mom and Dad did the right thing... and found her a perfect new home and family where she could once again be an only child, with two girls who adored her and would spoil her rotten self. Good riddance!  I don't miss her one bit!

We've had a couple other strays in and out of the house and mostly I didn't care for them. They tended to pick on me too.  One of them got pregnant and we ended up with a batch of kittens!  Mom and Dad are softies and ended up keeping Tiggy and Gracie from that litter, and found great homes for the other four in pairs. I get along fine with the little ones. I often end up bathing Gracie 'cuz she's kind of a grease ball and I feel sorry for her.

Then Mom's daughter had to move into an apartment and couldn't keep all three of her furkids; she begged Mom and Dad to take Chloe. They couldn't stand to see her so sad, so they did.  Now there are the five of us furkids, and for the most part we get along pretty good.  Mom got the little ones "fixed" (whatever that means, I didn't know they were broken), and Dad says "No more cats in the house!"  Whew... I'm glad of that!  I LOVE MY DAD! :-)

I'll be back in future posts to tell you more about life here, the way I see it, but I just have to leave you with this wee bit of information about me, something not many folks know.  Mom and Dad don't find it so amusing, but I think it's the sweetest revenge ever against all the bullies in the world...  Because of past abuse and cats who tried to keep me from the food bowl,  whenever I am left alone in the house with the other cats, I eat as much as I want from the dry food dish, then I pee in the food!!!  At first Mom and Dad couldn't figure out who was doing that (they didn't notice me snickering in the corner). But eventually I got caught in the act.  Obviously, that means the other cats don't want to eat... I don't see their issue with that, they need to diet anyway!  They have no problem stealing food and treats from me if Mom and Dad don't keep an eye on them! 

So did I get punished for my "crime"?  (The other cats were all crying for justice, one even suggested a hanging!) No! Mom and Dad understood that I just needed my own space, so now I get to stay in my very own bedroom at night.  When it's time for bed, I race down the hallway and fly into my room as Mom or Dad open the door for me.  The other cats try to follow, but aren't allowed in.  They are sooo jealous... too bad!  I sleep great, since I no longer need to keep one eye open.  During the daytime they leave me out in the main rooms with the other cats for company, and we all get along fine.... as long as Mom remembers to put  up the dry food bowl before she leaves for work... if not, I leave my calling card. Hehe!  I know how much Mom and Dad love me, 'cuz they put up with me being such a brat!  Mom says if she could clone me they'd be rich, because I am so sweet!  (Chloe just rolled her eyes at that, I thought she was going to cough up a hairball!)

I hope you've enjoyed my post.  Mom says I can blog again sometime, for sure! I'm looking forward to it 'cuz there a lot that goes on here you never hear about, and I know it all! :-)

Fly Away Home

You've probably read a little bit about my ex-husbands (all three of them) in past blog posts.  I've noted that the only way I can really explain those choices is to plead temporary insanity (despite the fact that each marriage lasted several years). You haven't heard - until now - about the one time I actually came to my senses and let another one of these "prize catches" get away (although it's more accurate to say I got away from him; he wasn't going anywhere at the time)...

As noted in a recent post, I spent seventy five days of the nineteenth year of my life locked in a mental hospital, court-committed to be exact (but that's a story waiting to be told another time).   This is a story about someone I met there... someone I was actually engaged to, not once but twice.  Dear God, what was I thinking? 

I met DP in small groups "therapy" there. (Saying that anything resembling therapy occured there is pretty much a joke.)  There weren't a lot of young people my age, and he was just a year older than me.  I'm sure DP saw in me, someone young and more or less innocent about life.  I saw someone fun and outspoken - a take charge kind of guy.  He paid attention to me, a fairly new experience in my life - I liked that a lot. I've always been attracted to bad boys and damaged souls, and Lord knows he fell into those categories... but I didn't know, at least not then.  Within a month's time he had given me his ring to wear, (more about that in a minute) and we became officially engaged, much to the interest of the other patients and staff. 

Although we were assigned to wards in different buildings, we saw each other in passing fairly often at mealtime and on the way to various activities, along with occasional opportunities to meet up for "social events" such as bingo, and brief times outside on the fenced and gated hospital grounds, all under very close supervision.  There was a lot of passing notes back and forth thru friends and acquaintances.  There were also dimly lit tunnels connecting all the buildings, and a few staff willing to look the other way for a short while.

Then one day DP just disappeared, nowhere to be seen, no notes... I soon learned that he had been "shipped out".  I found out that meant that he's been sent back to prison, that he'd only being doing his 75 days of court-assigned evaluation, like I was.  He'd forgotten to mention that little detail about being a convicted felon to me.  One other little detail he forgot to share... he was still married, though separated, and the ring he'd given me was the ring his wife gave him when they got married.  That shocking bit of information was tossed in my face by a fellow patient one day in group... "So you still  want to marry him?  Well, what are you going to do about his wife?"  DAMN!

At that point in my life I still saw things pretty black and white, and having a relationship with a married man was a no-no.  I wrote him a "go to hell" letter, and returned the ring via a friend, though he claimed he never got it.  The "friend" probably pawned it for drug money or something similar.

After I was released, I returned to my parent’s home briefly, and then headed to nursing school in North Dakota.  (That ended abruptly as well... my choice... another of the "very wise" decisions I've made along the way.)  I headed back to the people in Minnesota I thought of as family, and spent a few months there trying to get my life together. 

I started thinking about DP, and decided to track him down.  I found out that he was now in another small-town jail in South Dakota, awaiting shipment to the state penitentiary.  (His life clearly headed in the right direction.) Tossing a backpack over my shoulder, I hitchhiked across the state and went to visit him, spending one night with friends, and the next on a cot in a garage of some kind folks who didn't like to see me sleeping in the park.  They shared breakfast with me, and I headed over to the jail to see DP. 

This was a very small town, and the sheriff took heart and allowed DP some "good behavior" time to spend the afternoon in the park with me across the street from the jail.  DP knew all the right words to say, and before the weekend was over, we were once again engaged.  I actually rode along in the sheriff’s car, DP In handcuffs and leg chains, as he was transported to the pen. 

From there, I hitchhiked back to Minnesota to pack up my two boxes of belonging and put them on the bus to South Dakota.  I didn't have enough money to send them and me, so I hitchhiked back again; my destination being the city where DP's mother and step-father lived, so that I could be close to his family.  They were going to become my family too, or so I thought.  Let's just say that the reception was less than warming, but DP’s mom and I did hit it off well.  I'm sure she saw me as her son's salvation, a good girl from a good home, that could help get him on the straight and narrow  (yeah, right). 

I rented a room in a boarding house and got a job as a nurse's aide in a run-down nursing home.  Not having any transportation, I walked to work and back, and to the grocery story, and to the laundromat. It was a hard time in my life.  I wasn't in contact with my own family.  I'd shut down that connection following my "incarceration", courtesy of them.  I went to visit DP at the State Pen, a hundred miles down the road, a few times in the months that followed - once riding with his family, but most often hitchhiking back and forth to spend the twenty to thirty minutes of time allowed visiting on telephones, on either side of the thick glass window.  

Strangely, I can't tell you what he was sentenced for, what his crime was, or how long he was supposed to be there.  Maybe I knew then, but if I did, I don't recall now.  He wasn't mean or scary, though I'm sure he had a temper if provoked. I know he was expecting to be released fairly soon, or so he said.  I also can't say what it was that made me think he was "the one" that I wanted, the one I belonged with, a soul mate for life.  I'm not sure I even thought along those terms back then.  I was more in survival mode and hooking up with him seemed like a good idea.  I did like him though, he was funny and warm, and looked out for me, as best he could, through contacting friends on the outside who lived in the town where I was.  

A couple of those friends must have been God's angels in rough disguise, because they started dropping hints suggesting that maybe I was being taken for a ride.  That hard-earned money I was sending him for cigarettes and toiletries was supposedly going for drugs on the inside, and I wasn't the only women being taken in by his charm. Then I got a letter from a fellow inmate who laid out some details and evidence fairly clearly, and said basically "Run, don't walk... and don't look back.  If you stay in this relationship you'll regret it for the rest of your life.  DP is deceiving you."  

I was heartbroken.  The one person I thought wanted me didn't really either, he was using me big time, or... if he did care for me at some level, he was still cunning enough to take advantage of my kindness and good intent.  To hell with it.  I hardened my heart just a little more, sent him a "goodbye, good luck" letter, and built the wall around me another ten feet high.  I never heard from him again, and I never sought him out.

What I recalled, as I thought about him now and then, was a statement he'd made in the sheriff’s car on the way back to the penitentiary... "I don't mind going back," he said, "I know how to do the time."  I realized that meant he would probably be a repeat offender for the rest of his life.  He had no fear, at least none spoken, of doing time.

For reasons unknown, his name popped into my head the other day.  I think it was triggered by rereading that "Apologies" post in which he's mentioned.  Out of curiosity, I Googled his name today at lunchtime, and clicking on a link... found myself staring into a picture of him as a much older man... the picture accompanied his obituary.  DP is dead.  He died two years ago.

Dead?  My head struggled to comprehend it.  He was only a year older than me.  It stated that he died of COPD, and that he'd spent some years before he got ill working as a woodsman in the Pacific Northwest.  He had a wife and a son.  His father, mother, step-father, and sister have all died too.  He had two cats that he loved dearly, the memorial tribute said.  Of course his past as a convict wasn't mentioned, and I wondered if he somehow managed to get his life turned around. 

Strangely, I found myself feeling a bit saddened.  I know that under all that hurt, pain, and anger, was a very damaged little boy who wanted to love and be loved.  I hope he found that in his later years. I hope he found meaning, and I hope he found God there amongst the trees.  Fly away home DP.  God be with you... rest in peace.

It's funny how our lives take us down paths that twist and turn.  Had I not reconnected with DP, I would not have returned to South Dakota.  I would not have met my first husband, and I would not have had my daughter.  I would not have been in Germany where I met my second husband, nor had my son there.  I would not have ended up in New Mexico where I met my third.  I would most likely not have connected with Papa Bear in the state next door.  It is said that all things work out for the good... apparently that just might be true. 

Bad Kitty

For Cat Thursday - my all time favorite bit of kitty humor....

Punctuation is Important!

This morning when got to work I sent Papa Bear the following text message...
Have a good day!  I love you! 

A short while later I received this reply...
Trying to love you

Somewhat dismayed, since he always proclaims his undying love for me,  
I sent back the following...  
Trying to?  What does that mean?  :-(

Back came his response...
Trying to have a good day!

My reply...
Oh! That's different! :-)  I thought you were  saying it is difficult to love me.
(Which would be true, at least from my perspective).

He responded with the following and a bunch of smiley faces and hearts...
You know better than that, I always love you!

Whew, that's a relief!  :-)

Lesson to be learned - Punctuation is important, even when texting in a hurry! :-)

(Update - Papa Bear brought home peach cobbler for supper... he's back in good graces!)

Sounds and Silence

Monday morning... five phone lines at work ringing non-stop, each caller with questions or needing assistance of some kind.  I'm making notes on a notepad as I go, who's on one, what the guy on two wants, who line three is for, etc... craziness!  The folks who call in expecting me to know who they are just by the sound of their voice always make me smile.  They have no idea that I talk to forty or fifty different people daily...  it's amazing that I can even remember my own name by the end of the day! 

I've been answering offfice phones for more than thirty years.  Is it any wonder that I often hear phones ringing at night in my sleep and in my dreams?  At least in my current job we don't have speakers announcing calls all day long as we did at the truck dealership where I last worked.  The staff there learned to tune out our voices just like kids would their mom, and I was often hoarse by the end of the day from repeated paging.  I don't miss that at all. 

When I come home I love the quiet, it is peaceful and restful to me. Most often if I am home alone during the day, there is no tv, no music, no sound at all in the rooms except the AC fan coming off and on, the clicking of my keyboard,  and the furkids purring in my lap and around my feet.  That's my idea of heaven!  Other sounds that soothe me... ocean waves, falling rain, howling winter winds, crickets chirping in the night, and classical music. 

I belive that quiet time, time to sort out your thoughts, meditate, or even just decompress from the stress of the day, is essential.  I wonder about people who never ever enjoy quiet unless they are asleep.  My ex kept the tv running from the time he woke up in the morning until he went to bed at night.  If he wasn't in front of it, he was out in the band room jamming with his bandmates, making even more noise! We see young people and many adults with earbuds in their ears wherever they go, at work or play. Some folks even keep music or the tv on when they sleep for background noise.  

Has silence become that uncomfortable for us, that taboo? Do we use the noise to block out the sound of our own heart beating?

Furry Faces

Playing with pictures a bit... here's our five furkids in sepia tones, I love the effect!






Caring Recounted - #1

My amazing friend Louise over at A Year of Making A Difference designates her Saturday posts to celebrating the heroes in our midst, common everyday folks who by their deeds and nature make the world a better place to live.  I love reading about the heroes she honors each week; it's made me more conscious of the heroes around me.

Yesterday I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work.  The temperature was 104 - miserably, suffocatingly hot, quickly squelching any desire to be outside.  I hurried across the parking lot toward the cool refuge of the store. 

Across the lot I saw a common site here, a homeless person, unkempt and dressed in ragged clothes, with a scruffy dog on a  rope leash walking along beside him.  They moved across the parking lot slowly, both looking hot and tired.  People took care to avoid them, most looked away, uncomfortable when faced with this man's misery.

Except for one... a younger lady dressed nicely, well tanned and groomed. She exited her car, water bottle in hand and headed toward the store.  Then, seeing the man and his dog, she quickly returned to her car and produced another bottle of water, which she offered and he accepted gratefully.  That was incredibly kind, but what happened next nearly made me cry...

Squatting down and removing the cap from her own water bottle, she slowly fed it to the dog, pouring the cool water over his tongue as he lapped eagerly.  She not only gave away her extra water, she gave it all  - to the lowliest of God's creatures, the unwanted and the unloved. Isn't that what the Bible teaches us in the familiar story about the widow's mite?  She didn't make a big production of it so that others would notice her act of kindness, she just saw a need and responded to it, a gift of the heart.

When I was in high school, the church I belonged to held a national youth convention in New York City which I was able to attend. The theme was "And We Say We Care".  Those words have come to mind many times since then.  It is not enough to say we care, we must consciously put that caring into practice. 

Watching the lady in the parking lot performing a simple but profoud act of kindness reaffirmed that I want to live my life this way... to act without question, to love without limitation.

Note: The writing promt for this week's Sunday Scribblings this week is "Eureka!" - the Greek expression meaning "I have found it" or "I know the answer"!  The wisdom I have found lies in the paragraph above.

Wanted: A Magic Pill

It's Six Word Saturday!  Here's what I have to say in just six words:

Wanted: A Magic Sleep Replacement Pill!

Nah! You know I can't just say it in six words and leave it at that.  If I did you would wonder if I was sick or my body had been inhabited by aliens!  I must expound! :-)

I was emailing a friend yesterday, doing my usual whine about the many things I want to do and not enough time.  It's a constant theme in my life, and before you tell me that we make time for what's important, let me say I agree with that... to a point.  You see first I must make time for my job,  obviously, it IS important, since I like to eat and have gas for my car!  So, the reality is that I leave home around 7:30 in the morning and most days don't get back home until around 6 PM at night.  I like to arrive a bit early to have to to check my email and Facebook, and collect my thoughts for the day before the fun begins. After work there are always errands to run.  Since we live 25 miles out, that needs to be done before I head home. 

When I get home there is supper to make and dishes to do; cat boxes to clean and laundry to wash. And of course there is also time for tv with Papa Bear, the hot tub for soaking, and if I am motivated, a bit of exercycle and hanging upside down on the inversion table, which does wonders for my aching back!  

Obviously, I do make a little time for blogging and commenting most nights, and I most often use my lunch hour for the same.   But I want MORE time!  I want to read, and sew, and bake, and do cross-stitch, and weed flowers, and brush the furkids, and play my keyboard, and go for a walk and a moonlight ride in the Ranger, and.... well, you get the idea!  There are LOTS of things I want to do that I rarely find the time and the energy to do.  There's only so much you can squeeze in between seven and ten-thirty each night.  The honest truth is that many nights after supper I plop into my rocking chair with my laptop table in front of me, and stay there until bedtime.  I am too drained both mentally and physically to do much more... sad state of affairs.

So.... I came  up with the perfect solution - I want a sleep-replacement pill!  NOT a five-hour energy drink loaded with caffeine, those are hard on your body, and leave you feeling wired.  Caffeine and I do not get along well to begin with, though I do indulge in my morning mug of Earl Gray with honey on my way to work and a glass of iced-tea for supper.  I used to have quite an addiction to caffeine and cutting back was a bear, had a dull headache for a few days.  So no, I'm not talking about something to keep me artificially awake when my body is crying for much needed sleep.  That'll catch up with you eventually.

What would be wonderful is either a magic pill that replenishes the body's energy, and fulfills the need for restful sleep, or... if that's too difficult to invent, then how about a rechargeable battery pack that we could plug in, or have a spare!  Imagine how much happier everyone would be if instead of tail dragging near the end of the work day, they could just reach in their pocket and plug in the charger or replace their battery!

Wow, what I could do with eight extra hours in my life!  How fun that would be!  I like to fantsize about what it must be like to be retired and actually have those extra eight hours to yourself, to do exactly as you please. 

But there is one thought that scares me... when women fought for the right to work outside of the home as they chose, it was considered "liberation".  Well, it liberated us alright, now we get to work eight hours outside the home and do the work at home as well!  So if we gained another eight hours waking time, would folks feel inclined to take on another job to earn yet more money, so that they would soon require that much to sustain enhanced lifestyles? Would employers require longer hours?  Would kids get involved in even more chauffered activities?  In other words, would those precious hours gained soon be filled up with more tasks to do instead of being free time for us to enjoy?  Just like with posted speed limits, it seems to be human nature to always take things one step further, so I suspect before long we'd fill up those hours with busy-ness, and I'd be back here moaning about having no free time. 

So if someone does invent that magic pill or battery pack, i think there there needs to be a system over-ride function that shuts down if we start to do anything that isn't fun.  Think how much more pleasant folks would be if people everywhere were ensured at least a few hours of freedom to do whatever they pleased every day of their lives.  Wow!  If you had eight extra hours of time and energy in your day, how would you choose to spend it?

A Bear of a Week

I'm sorry that I haven't had a whole lot to say here this week.  Work has been super-busy and I've come home pretty wiped out in the hundred degree heat.  Stir into that mix a bit of drama at work, with our "most productive" worker plotting to shake things up a bit.  Much to her surprise, that didn't go exactly as she planned, and she ended up taking the last couple days off to "unwind".   She's always threatening to quit, and I'm crossing my fingers that she's job hunting. 

I think having someone who isn't afraid to stand up and speak out is a new experience for her, she likes to think she runs the show there.  But she's really much too young, and I'm much to old to be intimidated.  Let's just say there was a "Come to Jesus" meeting of the staff and our two superviors, with some pretty strong fallout.

It isn't over yet, a staff meeting with our home office manager is scheduled for a week from tomorrow in which she will reassign work duties and responsibilities, but for now the dust has settled and I'm  noticing a definite effort by our supervisors to ensure the workload is adjusted fairly and that work is really being done on worktime.  What a novel idea!  Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think some folks should be working hard and steady while a slacker does what they do best.... duck and dodge. 

I don't like office drama, I don't like folks who play behind the scenes to keep things stirred up and tensions high.  My belief is that we all should just come and do our jobs and get along.  After all, we spend more waking hours with each other than we do at home with our families.  The telling fact is that with Miss Slacker gone, the rest of us interacted with pleasantness and ease today, and worked together to get the job done despite phones ringing off the wall, and the endless need to shuffle papers. It was busy and tiring, but it wasn't frustrating and tense - once again proving that theory of the effect one bad apple can have on the whole bunch. 

TGIF, I'm more than ready for it, as I always am.  We have a potentially good change coming up at Papa Bear's job that I can't share yet, but it proves to me yet once again that God hears my prayers, even the ones whispered in my heart.

I'm planning to have a good day tomorrow and an even better weekend ahead. Wishing the same for all of you.  Go out and do something fun together, never grow too old to  play!

In His Hands

It's Cat Thursday over at Michelle's blog, and we're joining the fun!

Papa Bear's Girls

There's no place....

they'd rather be...

than safe in his arms.

Not Your Hallmark Family

Shopping for greeting cards... is it as difficult for you as it sometimes is for me?  I come from a family that sends cards for all occasions, and while Mom and Dad were alive it was anticipated and pretty much expected that you'd send a card.  Ok, I don't have a problem with that, although I do feel that some of those "events" are contrived to pad the pockets of card companies.  You've got to admit that it is fun to find a greeting card in your real mail box, one that you can hold in your hands and touch words that were actually written by someone you care about.  Cards are fun. 

However, card shopping is not so fun when you just can't find the right verse for the occasion.  Sometimes it can get downright depressing, as in the case of shopping for family members.  You see, despite outward appearances, we weren't exactly The Cleaver's... maybe nobody's family really was.  I search thru the card racks, rejecting card after card as excessively sentimental, saying things that just don't reflect the nature of our relationship, or are downright ridiculous.  And then I start to get depressed because I wish I would have had that kind of experience as a child, those kind of relationships.  I'm not saying that I didn't love my parents, or that I don't love my sisters, I'm just saying that it wasn't all hearts and flowers and sharing secrets of the heart.  No, it wasn't at all like that.  There were a lot of darker undercurrents, hurtful things said, meant, and allowed.  No point in belaboring that here.  Suffice it to say that most of those cards don't fit me any better than would Cinderella's slipper!

What to do?  I usually ended up opting for something simple - the shorter the sentiment the less likely the recipient would shake their head or laugh at the overdone outpouring of affection.  Sometimes I got really creative and opted for the blank cards where you write in your own verse, but that was also sometimes met with disdain.  My writing has never won awards in my family... "too many words", "too many big words", "you go on and on". Yes, I know, always too many words.  Perhaps I was born with a supply of many, many words that I must use up during my lifetime! I LOVE WORDS, and I love stringing them together!  I saw the term "word welding" on someone's blog recently, and I really like that - constructing thoughts (much like constructing a jungle-gym in my case)! :-)

Now days it's gotten a little easier, some greeting card companies have began offering alternative card lines that say things simpler, and more in line with real life experiences and relationships, some of them are so right on target they are downright funny. 

If card shopping has always been a little difficult for you, of if you find extremely sentimental verses a little over the top, take heart, you're not alone.  The rest of us are still waiting for our Hallmark moments too! None the less, surprise someone you care about someday, pick up a "just because" card and send it to them via snail mail for no reason at all. I guarantee it will be a real day brightener!  If your intended recipient lives with you, tuck it in their lunch box, or under their pillow, or in their sock drawer... those kinds of surprises are winners too.  Everyone wants to feel special and loved, and it's little things like this that mean the most!

Blessed Are the Fathers

In honor of Father's Day, I'm joining Six Word Saturday and Sunday Scribblings with the following contribution...

Blessed  Are The Fathers Who Love

Blessed are the fathers... who bring a new life into the world because they love the mother and want to raise a family together;

Blessed are the fathers... who believe in commitment, who raise their children in the security of a home that withstands the tests and trials of life;

Blessed are the fathers... who have their priorities straight, and work hard to  provide for their families, who place their children's needs before their own;

Blessed are the fathers... who spend time with their children, who work with them and play with them, and are involved in their lives;

Blessed are the fathers... who teach their children to be giving and compassionate, and to be tolerant of others who are different from themselves;

Blessed are the fathers... who never raise a hand in anger against their child or their child's mother, and who never use hurtful words that continue to hurt for a lifetime;

Blessed are the fathers... who abstain from abusing alcohol and drugs, and who don't waste precious money on expensive vices like cigarettes, who shoulder their responsibilities with clear minds and healthy bodies;

Blessed are the fathers... who guide their children with patience and understanding, who discipline with firmness but also with tenderness and love;

Blessed are the fathers... who teach their children the value of laughter and tears, and that both are essential to healing;

Blessed are the fathers... who know that praise is as important as punishment, and that building a child's self-esteem is one of the greatest gifts you can give them;

Blessed are the fathers... who teach their children to be active, to turn off the tv and computer and video games, to get in the fresh air and do something;

Blessed are the fathers... who encourage their children's dreams, whatever they may be, and ensure they have the education they will need to fulfill them;

Blessed are the fathers... who remember that they also made mistakes growing  up, who know that choosing wrong is how we learn to make wiser choices;

Blessed are the fathers... who teach their children the value of money and the difference between wants and needs;

Blessed are the fathers... who teach their children to conduct themselves with respect and integrity, and to treat others the way they would like to be treated;

Blessed are the fathers... who raise their children with spiritual understanding and truth, who teach them to pray, and to be seekers all of their lives;

Blessed are the fathers... who teach their children to persevere, to know that whatever happens in life, there is always tomorrow - we can always pick ourselves up, get back on the path and start again;

Blessed are the fathers... who show their children what it means to be a good person not only by their words, but also by their example;

Blessed are the fathers... who never miss an opportunity to say "I love you" and "I am proud of you" words their children will hold in their hearts forever;

Blessed are the fathers... whose children will treasure the memories they made together all the days of their lives.


Note: This is only a beginning, what other attributes should a good father have?

All Apologies

The following post originally appeared on my blog on October 6, 2007 for Sunday Scribblings.  It has received an incredible number of views since then, leading me to assume that regret for things we've done is common.  My previous post about guilt brought this one to mind and  I thought you might find it interesting.  When I re-read it now, almost five years later, I smile in the realization that some of it is not so much apologizing to the person stated as it is apologizing to myself for not being stronger and wiser back then, for being a doormat.  I am happy to say I am not a doormat anymore! :-)

"What else can I say? All apologies..."

To my Creator... I am sorry that my faith is not as strong as it should be. I am sorry that I am sometimes unable to trust You when I am in pain.

To my Father... I am sorry that I have disappointed you, and failed to live up to the person I could have been. I am sorry that you have never been able to feel proud of who I am.

To my Mother... I am sorry that we never did find a way to really talk to each other, before it was too late to talk. I am sorry that you didn't understand my way of seeing and doing things.

To my Older Sister... I am sorry that I didn't stop you the first time you attacked me, before you went too far. I am sorry that you are hurting so much inside that you lash out at others.

To my Younger Sister... I am sorry that I ran away from home, and left you to handle the important years on your own. I am sorry that I too often still leave you to handle things alone.

To Tony... I am sorry that I didn't get to know you better. I think that we could have made amazing friends. I am sorry for the drugs and pain that took your life.

To Donny... I am sorry that I believed you. I am sorry that I was so desperate for love that I was willing to believe anything.

To My First Husband... I am sorry that you were hurt so badly as a child that you were emotionally damaged beyond repair. I am sorry that the first time you struck your daughter as a baby I didn't take her and run.

To my Second Husband... I am sorry that I ever married you in the first place, when deep down you really didn't want me, and I knew it. I am sorry that I didn't stop you from treating me the way you did.

To Kevin... I am sorry that I took advantage of your friendship and caring, and couldn't be what you wanted. I am sorry that the one time I asked for your help with my daughter, you refused me.

To Ken... I am sorry that I cared too much about you. I am sorry that I couldn't save you from yourself. I am sorry that I didn't realize at the time you were using me.

To My Third Husband... I am sorry that I didn't believe you when you said that I would always be #3 in your life. I am sorry that I couldn't find the way to make our marriage work. I am sorry that I still feel love for you after everything you did to me.

To My Daughter... I am sorry for for the father that abused you, and for the step-father that didn't believe you. I am sorry for not being a mother that you could turn to when you most needed one. I am sorry that I can't find a way to take away your pain.

To My Son... I am sorry that I let you go live with your father, even though I knew

it was what you needed. I am sorry that you never got to experience what it was like
to grow up in a stable, happy home. I am sorry that I don't get to see you more
often now.

To My Boss... I am sorry that I rehired you when you walked out angry. It is the action I regret most in my life. I am sorry that you never appreciated what I did for you that day. I am sorry that I am still there now.

To Sidekick... I am sorry that no matter how hard I try to get along, you try harder to cause me problems. I am sorry, sometimes, that I didn't smack you the first time... that would have resolved things one way or another. I am sorry for whatever pain makes you act this way.

To The Children I Love... I am sorry that I can't be there for you now, I know you need me. I am sorry your lives have to be so difficult, and sometimes so cruel. I am sorry that I can't steal you all away.

To Old Friends... I am sorry that it seems like I have walked away from you. You are never far from my heart. I wish you could understand that I am doing all I can do right now, and I wish that I had more time to spend keeping up with you.

To New Friends... I am sorry that my days aren't longer and my energy isn't stronger. If I could have a magic power, it would be to stay in touch with each of you every single day. I am sorry that sometimes I seem indifferent to your needs. In many ways you are my salvation.

To One Who Cares... I am sorry that I sometimes let my fears and insecurities overtake me. I am sorry that you didn't come into my life fifteen years ago.

To Myself... I am sorry that I don't take better care of you. I am sorry that I didn't choose a path that would let your full potential shine. I am sorry that I have made it so difficult for you to survive... but, most days, I am glad that you are still alive!

Those Chains

Today let's talk about GUILT!  You know, that feeling of being responsible for an offense or something that went wrong.  Guilt serves a useful purpose when it reminds us not to do something that we know is wrong; it can serve as a powerful deterrent. I do not want to drink and drive and get into an accident where someone gets badly hurt or killed - I could not live with the guilt.  I could not physically abuse or neglect another person - I could not live with the guilt.  I do not steal from my employer or cheat on my spouse - I do not want to live with the guilt. 

Guilt is a byproduct of conscience... it helps us make wise decisions in determining right from wrong.  It is said that the measure of man's true character is what he would do if he wasn't found out.  But sometimes living with the knowledge of our guilt can be far worse than being found out.  Guilt can sentence us to a lifetime of sadness and shame.

I've discovered that often people who are very judgemental about life (take me for example, though I like to tell myself I'm not) also tend to be very hard on themselves, actually judging themselves far more harshly than they judge others.  We tend to take the messages we receive as children about our goodness and worth - or the lack of it, and let them grow in our heads until they overtake reason.  There are those people who believe that everything that happens in their lives is someone else's fault, they never assume personal responsibility; and then the are those of us that take on responsibility for the world... everything that happens is our fault, we are always to blame.  Guilt and the accompanying feelings of worthlessness are a heavy burden to carry thru life, it can prevent us from the lives of purpose and joy that God intended us to have.

I also think there is a BIG difference in feeling guilty for things done consciously with the intent to hurt or hinder someone else, and things done that hurt others unintentionally. Sometimes our best efforts fall short or we fail to see the long-range effect of our actions until it is too late to undo them.  We've all said things in anger that we wish we never would have said at all.  We've all lashed out a people we love because we were hurting.  We've all neglected to take the time to listen or help someone out who really needed a bit of our caring.  We aren't perfect, we are work in progress. It is right to feel remorse over such things.  It is not ok to be still beating ourselves up over it ten and twenty years later!

We need to take a hard look, as adults, at the feelings of guilt we carry and the blame we ascribe to ourselves.  Many times situations have been partially, if not totally beyond our control.  Often, given a particular situation, we handled it the very best we could, with the knowledge and life skills we had at that time.  That doesn't mean we never did anything poorly, or wrong.  I'm sure I could come up with a list of a hundred or more things I wish I would have done or handled differently in my life.  I don't believe I always did everything right as a child, or as parent, or as a spouse.  I don't do everything right now either, though I can honestly say I try.

There comes a time when we need to let go of the past, to stop being chained to who we WERE, so we can shine in the light of who we ARE!  It can be hard to forgive those who hurt us, it often seems even harder to forgive ourselves, but we must.  As we've talked about before, forgiveness doesn't mean you are saying that everything was fine and ok, it means you aren't going to hold on the the emotions tied to it and let them cripple you any longer.  When you forgive yourself for your perceived shortcomings, you are releasing yourself not from responsibility, but from the burden of guilt.  It is IN THE PAST, lay it down and leave it there.  Say I'm sorry to anyone you are able to reach out to, apology is healthy for the heart and soul.  If you can't reach them, apologize in your heart.  Write it down on paper, and while you're writing... write yourself an apology letter too... for being so hard on yourself, and for never loving and valuing yourself enough! 

No, I didn't do a great job being the kind of person I like to be yesterday. I admit that. I apologized to a couple people today for my surely attitude.  I apologized to myself for letting meget backed into a corner instead of addressing the issues at hand.  I thought about it, and I feel better prepared to handle today.  We fall down, we pick ourselves up and we start again.  Break the chains that bind you to the past, stop adding to that long list of personal failures... burn the list!  New day, new doorway - I'm stepping thru and not looking back, why don't you join me?

Feed Me... Now!

Annie has inspired me to join The True Book Addict for Cat Thursday this week.  Here's what Stormy, the patriach of our fur family, has to say...

"Our dishes are empty and she is totally ignoring our plight."

"Look Lady, we're starving... haven't you been
staring at that computer screen long enough?"

"Now, I said NOW!  Get up and feed us NOW!!"

Tales from the Bermuda Triangle

In the realm of architecture and also spirituality, three is considered to be a number of strength and unity - in the realm of sisterhood... not so much.  As I've noted before, I am the middle sister, with a sister two years older than me, and another three years younger.  So we've all lived over half a century, and should theoretically have acquired a bit of wisdom or at least common sense by now, right?  Well, one would think so anyway. 

I don't invest a lot of time in my relationships with either sister, hard-learned lessons have taught me it's much healthier emotionally to keep them at arm's length.  Communication is kept to a bare minimum with one, and in very general terms... the weather, etc, with the other.  I'm sad (sort of) that it has to be that way, but otherwise I get sucked into far more drama and cross-fire than I want or need in my life. 

I have always been the one stuck in the middle, trying not to align myself with either sister as one rails against the other, trying to mediate and keep the peace, and more often than not being the one that is under fire when communications blow up.  I've long since hit the point of insisting "don't tell me what Z is doing" and "I don't care what X says about me."  Either feels it is to their advantage to be able to claim my allegiance, which is never there to begin with.  They cannot be trusted, and will turn on me at the drop of a hat.  Our beliefs and values are far different, my life has travelled down a road far distant from theirs.

I blogged recently of a falling out with younger sister over a text that she wanted me to send to her son and I failed to comply with her wishes.  When angry emails start flying, I have learned to back away and let things cool down, though it's hard not to respond in kind.  So for the past few weeks it's been blissfully quiet with no word from either sister.

On Saturday I received an email from my older sister, sent to both me and younger sister, regarding a fund-raising effort to plant trees at the cemetery where my parents are buried.  They are asking for families to  purchase trees as memorials, and big sister wanted to know if little sister and I cared to chip in with her on a tree.  I responded, briefly noting that it sounded like a nice idea to me and asking how much the trees cost, that I was fine with it as long as my part wasn't more than around $30.  She sent me back a reply on Sunday night that the trees cost in the neighborhood of $80 and she was waiting to hear from younger sister, also wanted to know if I had a preference about what kind of tree to purchase, if we do.

Monday I get an email from big sister, sent to little sister and cc: to me,  indicating that she hadn't heard from me yet, perhaps because I was busy learning my new job (what, six months later??)  This kind of twisted spaghetti communication is classic with her.  I promptly emailed back, with a cc to little sister, noting that I had indeed responded and indicating my willingness to  participate in the tree purchase. I said just to let me know which sister to send my check to.

Big sister emails back saying that she is sorry for any confusion, but since she works during the day at a place that does not permit personal email or cellphone use, she could not have provided me with purchase estimate information, so I must have gotten that from someone else?  (Huh??)   I forwarded a copy of her email with the price estimate back to her without comment, and again noted that I am all for chipping-in, just do it and let me know what to send.  I say that I am fine with whatever tree they choose.

Little sister chimes in with an email to both of us, stating that she doesn't want to spend more than about $25 and that she prefers the  (Whatever name it is) tree with heart shaped leaves and blossoms in the spring.

Today's email from big sister to both of us lists two other trees that she prefers, one because of the pretty fall colors and the other because of it's weather resistance.  One costs $90 and one $110. 

Do you see what's transpiring here?  There is now going to be a contest of wills over which tree to choose.  WTH!!!  I mean really, just pick a damn tree and plant it!  Toss the names in a hat, whatever, I don't care.. .JUST DO IT!

We've had cemetery issues in the past, after Dad died, when big sister told little sister she didn't want to chip in on a seasonal flowers plan because Mom and Dad "aren't there anyway".  That upset our very sentimental little sister greatly. 

Then last year big sister decided she wanted to do a bit of decorating at the grave for whatever holiday it was, and little sister went ballistic because of the previous dis on cemetery flowers.  No one was going to horn in on her right to decorate those graves!

So now, here we are, in the midst of the great tree debate.  I REFUSE to get involved.  Big sister has said she will place the order with her credit card as soon as the matter is decided, so I will be sending off my check to her.  End of issue. 

Normally, in times when little sister and I are communicating, by now I would have had ten or more "aside" emails noting what a "B" my older sister was being, and how unreasonable, and how she likes to decide everything, and on, and on, and on, wanting me to take sides with her . I have to admit that I'm glad we are incommunicado at the moment.  My email box is blissfully quiet. 

Plant a tree, or don't plant a tree, if Mom and Dad are anywhere near and watching this scenario unfold, I'm sure they are shaking their heads at a scene they've seen replayed a hundred times or more in our lives.  Why does everything have to become a big issue?  Is it really that hard for three sisters to just get along?

This is just one more reason why I want my remains cremated and the ashes scattered, it would break my heart if my children would decide to  play war games over my grave... just saying.  Sometimes I'm ashamed to admit I belong to that family.

Teach Them Well

Commenting on our young granddaughter's love of reading and writing in my last post started me thinking about the gifts we can give our children thru encouragement and example.  Here are a few of the things I think all children should be taught...

To love reading... read to them from the time they are very small, give them books of their own to treasure, listen to them read to you, introduce them to the library, provide a quiet family reading time each week to help the realize that reading is a lifelong pleasure. Let them choose reading matter that interests them, as long as it's age appropriate.  It is ok to suggest, but if you exercise too much control you will thwart the adventure of discovering a whole new world between the covers of a book!

To  love writing... not just learning to print the ABC's and their name, nor scrawling out the mandatory thank you note to grandma, but to express their thoughts and feelings in written words.  Help them make a scrap book or a journal, encourage them to describe what they've seen or done, or to tell a story.   Gently work on improving spelling and grammar, don't go at it with a red pen and a frown face!!  Don't judge content harshly, praise their work and encourage their efforts.  Use the fridge door for display!

To love creating... this can take many forms, from coloring or painting when young, to woodwork, needlework, crafting greeting cards, sculpting clay, making pottery, assembling a colorful pot of assorted flowers or plants, or building a tree house! Provide supplies, demonstrate techniques, offer help as needed (but let them take the lead), praise results!  Creative outlets that can be taken into adult life will save a bundle in therapist fees in the future!

To love giving... demonstrate giving from the time they are very small and help them participate... choose a gift for daddy or mommy, bake cookies together for the older man next door, rake the yard for a neighbor, choose old toys and donate them. Give them opportunities to share, and talk about the importance of thinking of others. Teach them to share smiles and polite words too!

To have faith... children grow up in a scary world today with so  many negative influences and things that are difficult to understand, like divorce.  Don't drop them off at church at Sunday School, take them!  Make faith a part of  your daily family life and conversation.  Explain what you believe and why, and teach them tolerance for what others believe.  When times are tough, demonstrate how faith gives you the courage to keep going.

To believe in themselves... from day one make sure your children know that you love them and that they have value... not only if they are "good" and do everything right, but just as they are!  Tell them the things that make them unique and special and help them find their own special ways to shine! Give them opportunities to take on tasks which will result in small successes that can build confidence to accept the challenge of greater tasks. 

And even more... Teach them it is good to ask for help when you need it, to admit when you are wrong, and to say your sorry if you hurt someone. Teach them to be kind and well-mannered, to be adaptable to life's ever changing situations, and to pick themselves up when they fall.  Teach them financial responsibility and personal integrity.  Let them know we are all connected and we each have a role in the world.  Teach them to be caretakers of the earth and each other.

Imagine how different things could be if each parent would consciously ensure their child entered adulthood with these simple gifts in their "suitcase" for life!  Make the time to parent.  Turn off the tv, the iPad, and the computer now and then - laugh, love and play with your child.  Dusting can wait, the tv will always be there... but your children will be grown and gone before you blink twice.  Do it now... be a parent who makes a difference in the life of their child, so your child will grow up to  make a difference in the world!

What other things do you think it's important to teach a child? 

Of Life and Death

We had a great time in Lubbock, even if temps soared to 107! I don't have to tell you that we didn't spend any more time outside than was absolutely necessary.  We met up with John's daughter, son-in-law and wonderful granddaughter who will be turning eleven this coming week.  She and Papa Bear have always celebrated their birthday's together.  We stuffed ourselves with delicious food at The Olive Garden, then headed to the mall so that our granddaughter could do some shopping at her favorite store as our gift.  It's been years since I've gotten to help a little girl shop, so that was fun and Papa Bear was handy with the credit card. We bought a swimsuit, a sundress, a sparkly pink shirt, and glow-in-the-dark fingernail polish... all mom and dad approved.  Then we all went to see Madagascar 3 which was pretty good as far as animation goes. 

No trip to Lubbock is complete for them without a stop at Barnes and Noble - a family of readers, so we headed there next.  No one was more delighted than I when our granddaughter cast her eye on a pretty hardbound journal.  A birthday is a perfect time to start journaling, and I'm excited about having another lover of word-crafting in the family.  That was  purchased as a special gift from me, with the promise elicited that  she will never thow it away or destroy it, even if she tires of it.  I told her how much she would enjoy looking back in it many years from now, and we talked about how fun it would be if she could read what  her mother might have been thinking about at her age.  She has already done some journaling for school and enjoyed the process. Going into  pret-teen years, and moving to a new city and new school, away from the place she has grown up knowing as home, will present plenty of opportunities for things to write about.  Maybe I'll be able to get her to share a bit of it now and then. Her parents are very hands-on in her upbringing,  sending her to private Christian schools and monitoring her friends/tv/movie/Internet/and reading content carefully. So far it has produced a lovely, caring, well-balanced child who is a pleasure to be around. We'll see what the teen years bring!

Papa Bear and I had intended to see "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" movie last night which has not come to our city cinemas yet, but we were both weary and heat tired from the activities of the day, so opted for relaxing in our nice hotel room instead.

This morning we headed out on a trip to the large city cemetery to see and photograph an angel statue there that has intrigued me.  This is the beautiful ten foot "Umlauf Angel", commissioned by the City and sculpted by CharlesUmlauf in 1958. Most often we see angels portrayed as female, but as you can see, in this sculpture the figure is more difficult to define as female  or male.  Note the feet which are anything but feminine.  I think this is an amazing piece of art, flowing and at the same time intense.

I love cemeteries, I have always found them to be very peaceful places.  I spent a great deal of time in earlier years resting there, and walking thru them reading headstones and wondering about the lives of the people who remains are interred. 

There were also times during my college years when, after a beer or two, my friends and I would go late at night and perch on the large concrete fence posts of the old cemetery rock wall which ran along side a dark highway.  Assuming gargoyle poses, we caused more than a few cars to slow down and then speed rapidly away!

Today, the thick green carpet of grass had me tugging off my sandals and luxuriating in the wonderful opportunity for contact with my beloved mother earth.   When we parked our car along side the cemetery road near the statue, we noticed that we were within a few feet of the unassuming resting place of the legendary Buddy Holley - headstone in the photo above. 

Papa Bear and I will not have headstones to mark a final resting place when we die, we have both opted instead to donate our bodies to medical science thru the Genesis program at the Medical Education and Research Institute.  We find the high costs of funerals placed on grieving families unconscionable, and by making this choice with a reputable program, after donating any organs which can be transplanted, our bodies will be sent for medical science study and training, and then within a year's time are cremated and returned to the family. 

John's previous wife who died of cancer bravely chose this option for her remains, and they simply held a memorial service rather than a funeral. MERI called John to  notify him when the cremains were ready to be shipped to him, giving him time prepare emotionally for the arrival of the little metal box which contained them.  He kept them near for awhile, then saw that they were scattered as per her final request.  The same will be done with ours, as instructed in our will. 

There will be no funeral or internment expenses to burden our families, no caskets or vaults, and no bodies lowered into the ground. No cemetery fees, and no place that must be cared for - since we know we won't be there once we've been set free.  Our remains, along with our spirits, will return from whence they came. I am at very much at peace with that,  it is the right choice for me.  

Heading Out

Today Six Word Saturday means....

 Heading Out to Have Some Fun

It's a bright and beautiful Saturday morning, and we're headed to Lubbock for an overnight.  The above picture is a good example of some of the "breathtaking scenery" we'll be enjoying enroute... miles and miles just like this, LOL, maybe a bit greener if new crops are growing. 

Today we're meeting up with Papa Bear's daughter, son-in-law and youngest granddaughter at The Olive Garden to celebrate birthdays.  They'll soon be moving a little further away, and we won't get to see them very often.  They are heading to a great place with some wonderful new opportunities though, so I'm glad for them! 

Papa Bear and I will be spending the night at a nice hotel, doing a bit of mall walking, and maybe taking in a movie tonight.  Tomorrow we're looking forward to lunch at Joe's Crab Shack before we make the 130 mile trip home. 

Weathermen are predicting temps over a hundred degrees for both days... Lord have mercy! Summertime in West Texas is a toasty affair.