Living creatively, love of photography, and passionate living.

Posts tagged “family

I can’t keep up!

Ugh!  I am so behind!  I have images I need to work on.  I have a utility room that needs sorting through.  I have a laundry room that needs reorganizing.  My laundry is piling up.  My refrigerator needs cleaning out — again! I have a garden that’s never been weeded and made ready for planting, so now it’s overgrown with a season’s worth of weeds.  I need to clean out drawers and give away clothes no longer used.  And that’s only part  of the list. Where am I suppose to find time for it all?!!

I love blogging, but I’m so used to incorporating my images into my posts that I feel like I can’t post unless I have a few photos to go along with it.  So that’s put me off my usual schedule.  I did a semi-major cleaning (hey, there is so such a thing!) a few weeks ago when my son had his late (the party, not his graduation) graduation party because we had a ton of kids over–some, of which, ended up spending the night.  That was totally unexpected.  After all that cramming-cleaning, I felt I needed/deserved a break from at least a couple of weeks cleaning.  Hence, the laundry piling up, and the utility and laundry room still needing to be cleaned and organized. 

And I’d forgotten how tiring it can be to work 8 hours a day and try to come home and do anything that requires me to stand, chop, sort, or wash for more than 20 minutes.  I always did it before, but it tired me sometimes then, too.  Of course, it would help if I went to bed earlier.  But when would I find my ME time?  That Mahjong game isn’t going to complete itself.  And after I finish the first one, you know I just have to be challenged and do the remaining 5 games till I win.  …I just have to.  The same thing goes for solitaire.  It’s a good thing I’m not on Facebook and know nothing about that farm game I hear so much about. 

By the way, I’ve rediscovered Starburst candies.  I love those things!  Now I remember why I was so addicted to them before.  I should save the wrappers and make some of those cute little purses or wallets.  Wait.  See, now.  This is how I end up getting distracted and not accomplishing the things around here that I need to do.  Of course, who doesn’t want to be distracted when there are too many chores staring you in the face? 

I wish someone would invent a self-cleaning refrigerator. 

Well, at least I can blame the inability to work out in the yard on the 100 degree plus weather we’ve been having the past few weeks.  And it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon.  Besides, the grass has almost completely died, saving me the bother of trying to get it mowed.  I tried watering it a couple of times, but I’m not paying a $100 plus water bill for the month.  Sorry, grass;  it’s survival of the fittest.  I have to save the water for the plants and flowers.  I spent way too much money on them. 

I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.  I’ve accomplished some things these past weeks.  I cut out two pair of pants to sew and wear.  Finished one already.  Going to start sewing the 2nd pair this week sometime.  I did some laundry tonight.  On my way to put the last of it in the dryer when I’m done typing here.  Went to the grocery store this past weekend and picked up all the necessities and food supplies for this week.  Half-completed cleaning my own bathroom.  The other half will have to wait till tomorrow.  So I’m not a complete failure, I guess! 

And anyway, there’s always going to be housework and yard work.  So what if I get a little behind and need a lazy break and just want to kick back and watch some good shows.  Somebody make me some popcorn!  Please…?

Why do we eat!…and eat…and eat!

The other day my daughter and I were talking about her friends.  She says that most of the time, she has to tell her friends to eat, that it’s okay to eat, or that they need to eat.  Her friends don’t understand why she is seemingly obsessed with food and eating.  She thinks this is funny, because to her, they are obsessed with not eating.

Let me explain.  Because I totally get it and why they have opposing views about food.  It’s how she was raised.  It’s how I was raised.  Our family life centers around food.  Okay, well, maybe it doesn’t center around food exactly, but food it so much intertwined with what we do–no matter what it is.

For instance, if one of us is getting a headache, it’s because “you need to eat.”  If we’re celebrating a birthday, it’s “what do you want for your birthday supper?”  If someone wins something, graduates from something, or gets a raise, we go out to eat. If someone is sad or had something bad happen to them, we go get ice cream.  When it’s bedtime and anyone is having trouble sleeping, it’s “go get a little something to eat so you can sleep better.”  When we come home from school or work, it’s “have an after-school snack” or a “little something before supper.” 

When we’re getting ready to go shopping or know we’re going to be out for more than an hour, it’s “better eat something before we leave the house.”  If we have to do some housework or chores for any length of time, it’s “let’s eat something before we start.”  (All right, that one might just be pure procrastination, but we choose food as the means to which to procrastinate.)  For Christmas, I often bake things to give out as presents.  I use to spend days making up goodies to box up and give to my siblings and their families, and they always looked forward to that box! 

My son’s friends are dumbfounded whenever they come over because I always make food a part of their visit.  Once, my son had a couple of friends over and I had said I would barbecue some hot dogs for them.  I’m sure they thought there might be some chips and something to drink along with those hot dogs.  But I know they weren’t expecting the corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, crudites  and dip, homemade cookies, and cucumber salad to be spread out on the table, too! 

Another time, his best friend was coming over to spend the day, so I wanted to make sure they had plenty to eat.  I made homemade pizza for lunch, rice crispy treats for a snack, and fed them the enchiladas and rice I had made the day before for supper — before I gave them some cake and ice cream.  I even made his friend take home some cake. 

Food is love.  It’s how we show our love, our emotion, our togetherness.  I have many happy memories of going down to the local Sonic when the kids were younger and just sitting there in the car, our feet hanging out the window, listening to the music Sonic always plays while sipping a yummy ice cream drink and eating corn dogs.  The summer winds would usually be blowing, and we’d laugh and talk while just enjoying the weather, the casualness of the day, and our precious time together.  The kids can recall those same memories.   Many times, I would pick the kids up from grade school for lunch (they hated eating in the school cafeteria because it was always so noisy) and drive to the park where we would pop the back of our van open and sit there eating a lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn (Grandy’s, why did you ever leave town?!  We loved your food!).  The trees were so big and would blow in the wind, while people walked their dogs or parent’s were hanging out with their young ones by the swing set and the slide. 

So, to my daughter, getting together with your friends is a very good reason to eat and to show your appreciation for each other and to share your love for one another.  I mean, why not?  We’re not gluttons about it, and none of us is obese. We don’t abuse food or how we eat it.  We use it as a part of our celebration of life and living.  It makes us feel grounded and centered and all “homey.” 

Maybe that is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.  Actually, we make food a big deal at every holiday!

My daughter’s friends asked her why she is always telling them “eat!”  She said, “Because it’s what we do in my family!”

Getting Through It All.

Oh, I should be in bed now.  My son has already let me know it’s past my bedtime, now that I’m back in the working world of steady paychecks. (Yea!) But I meant what I said, I love blogging and I don’t want to give it up.  I may be busy as can be right now, but I have no intentions of slowing down.  That’s just not me.  If there’s a way for me to push one more minute out of the day, believe me, I will.

And this is just another part of my life that I am getting through.  Not rushing through, not hurrying through, but living through.  And it feels wonderful! I don’t want to let all that I have on my plate right now keep me from enjoying one little minute of it.  It’s just life.  So much to do, true, but when is it not like that — at least if you are a single mother anyway?  I’m sure all parents, in general, tend to feel rushed at times.  So I know I don’t hold the trophy for busy parents.  And, Lord knows, I’ve done it long enough that I ought to be used to it by now. 

I’m just going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing and not let anything stop me from living and getting the most out of every precious moment of life!  And thanks and praise to God!

And if you’ve been keeping up with what’s been going on in my busy life, you know my son (my youngest), just graduated from high school.  It was a special moment, for sure.

Here’s the moment I lost it. 

Yep, that’s right.  From the moment that kid walked out to find his seat, I started feeling the insides of me come pouring out.  I was thankful I had my camera to hide behind and to make myself focus.  It was one of those just-bite-your-lip-till-it-bleeds moments.  A trying time to steel my emotions and keep it together. 

And if it weren’t for the giant jumbo-tron, I don’t know if I would have ever caught a glimpse of him walking past those first few steps because I was shaking so much trying to keep from breaking down while holding my camera (hence, the blurry pics) that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to enjoy watching the moment instead of trying to record it.  (Note to self: Don’t attempt to ever take important family moment pics again or I’ll miss the times of my life!)

When my son finally did sit down, I can honestly tell you right now that I’ve never stared at the back of someone’s head for so long and with such intent as I did for those long minutes before he got up to receive his diploma. 

My eyes (and my heart) never left the back of his head.  With every sideways glance he gave his friends, with every nod, with every smile and laugh during those minutes, I thought of all the goodness that is my son.  My heart sang with happiness and pride for the long road we’ve been down to get here.  I’m not going to sit here and tell you that he’s overcome some disease or drug problem or disability.  I know there are plenty of kids that go through stuff like that.  Kids that go through troubled living environments. 

But what I will tell you is my son is the product of a divorce.  Something that he did not ask for nor did he deserve.  Nor did his sister.  My son is the product of a single-parent household.  He was a latchkey kid who had to come home to a house alone and to no adult supervision–unless you count the over-the-phone check-ups and threats to “get that homework done!”  He was responsible for his own laundry and his own snacks and sometimes his own meals so that I could keep a job and pay the bills to keep a roof over our heads. 

And never did this boy give me one ounce of trouble. 

Yes, there were the usual arguments over teenage problems like getting his room clean and staying off the video games till homework was done.  But he never ran the streets, never left the house without my permission, never fell prey to anyone who tried to steer him in the wrong direction.  He’s got a strong will and a strong sense of right and wrong.  And I just couldn’t have asked for a better son.

And if you’re tired of hearing me sing his praises, we’ll you better just stop reading now because this is my blog and I love my son! 

We are close and always have been.  I was thinking of all the times I made him peanut butter cookies while he was growing up as I watched him walk up the stairs to the stage.  I thought of the time during winter, toward the spring, when he was about 4 yrs. old and there was snow on the ground.  He’d been sick with a cold and had been wanting to go outside and play.  Finally, he got better and the sun had come out and it was warm enough to take him and his sister outside. 

I’d been telling him all about snow angels and what they were and how you make them.  The sun had already begun to melt the snow into puddles of muddy water here and there in the yard in between mounds of snow.  I was helping his sister roll balls for a snowman when I looked around for him.  I didn’t see him standing anywhere close and I sort of panicked for a second.  Then, as I walked toward the driveway, I spotted him lying on the ground, smack dab in some half-way melted snow, arms outstretched, with the biggest smile on his face I have ever seen on any child.  I said, “Son! What are you doing in that water?! You’re going to get sick again!”  He just looked up into my face and said, “I’m making snow angels, mommy.”  He was so happy.  My heart was filled with so much joy to see the joy he had inside him to just make one snow angel. 

That was one of those “just stand here and cherish it, burn it into your mind for safe keeping, and don’t ever forget it” moments. 

This day was another one of those moments.  So that’s exactly what I did.  It’s there forever.  And I will never forget how happy I was seeing the smile on his face as he felt joy again for this accomplishment in his life. 

Everything our children do are such  milestones in their young lives and something to cherish, for the moment passes so quickly.  Even a camera can’t capture that time and make it hold still forever–it’s just a glimpse of a memory already gone by.  But…it is such a joy to know that we had some part of making our children into the fine young men and women they become in life someday.  I feel proud, for him and for myself.  

Busy, busy, busy!

This is not going to be one of my usual posts with lots of pictures and things to look at.  Because I am just super busy lately!  There is so much going on, and I barely have time to eat or sleep.  Okay, not true.  I always have time to eat.

What I really mean is I’ve been planting flowers, my son is graduating, and… I finally got a new job!  And then, of course, there’s all the little everyday stuff to get done or find a place to fit it all in. 

But back to the “I got a new job” part.  And the “finally” part.  You may not have known it, but I have been without a full-time permanent job for the last 21 months.  Yes, it’s true.  I got laid-off my old job in August of 2009 and have been doing freelance work since then.  It’s been really hard making ends meet, but God really was watching over me and my children and we made it through.  {That doesn’t sound right to say that, though.  Because it almost implies that God is picky about who he helps.  (My mother use to always tell us that God helps those who help themselves.)} I feel very fortunate and blessed to have finally found this job and the place where I’m suppose to be right now.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many interviews I went on (although, those were not that easy to get in this economy) and how many applications I filled out during this time. 

And for every job I went on, there were so many other applicants wanting the same positions.  It was just crazy!  Even the minimum wage jobs, which everyone was so desperate for — no matter how little it paid. ( A little of something is better than a lot of nothing!)  So many with families to feed and house/rent payments to make.  It can get really hard to keep your spirits up in times like that.  But, like a lot of people, I never gave up. 

So, I need to get my sleep now, because I have a steady job to go to once again, people!  But, I’m not giving up my blogging, because I love it too much.  And I love all the readers who read and comment and connect with me.  I just don’t want to give up all the neat and cool people I have met on here.  And I still have so much more to say and to share and to learn.  I’m just running a little late on things, but will get back in the groove as soon as I get a few things out of my way and get right back on track. 

Plus, I want to get out and use my camera more!  And I want to share all those photos with you, too!  Stay tuned and have a great week. Now, I have a son to go see get his high school diploma!

America’s Big News

Earlier tonight, I sat on the couch with my daughter (who just turned 20) as we listened to the President tell us the big news that Osama bin Laden had been killed.  We had been watching another program when the news cut in to tell us the President was about to make an important statement to the country.  “What could it be?” we wondered.  What was so important that it had to be told so late this Sunday evening.  We heard nothing of any type of news impending in the last couple of days.  So what was so important that he had to address the whole nation?

I went to my son’s room to make sure he had his T.V. on and was watching.  He was.  I make it a point to make sure my children watch all important news programs and announcements about our government in an effort to help them understand, somewhat, politics so they will be prepared and educated voters when they are able to do so.  I try to tell them that voting is a privilege and not something they should take lightly or do if they can’t make an honest attempt to understand what they are voting for and who they are voting into any office. 

They seem to have a great interest in what goes on in our country and how it is being run, so I feel I have done my job as a parent in that area.  And they are very concerned, as young folks should be, about the future of our country.  So, here we three sat in anticipation of this very important news.  We waited and waited as delay after delay came, until  finally, he went to the podium to make his announcement.  Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, had finally been killed.  His body was taken by the U.S. team that shot him.  After all this time, he had finally been found and killed.

We were stunned.  This whole thing had been going on for so long and now it had finally been done.  As the President spoke of the day of the attack on the Twin Towers, I thought of that day way back then as it had unfolded.  From those early morning hours when I learned of the first plane hitting the first tower, after I had dropped my children off at their grade school, till the end of the day when I didn’t know if it was even safe to lay my head down on my pillow and go to sleep that night, and everything that happened in between. 

I thought of all those people who had died in those buildings and their families.  I thought of all the soldiers in every military service who has fought for our country and who had enrolled in the service as a result of that attack.  And I said a silent prayer of thanks for them while I continued to listen to the President speak. 

Who knows what the next few days, weeks, and months will hold?  I feel proud, as an American, that we have some sort of victory after all this time.  I feel strong and brave to know we didn’t give up.  I feel relieved that there is one less crazy, violent, evil person on this planet who spews his ugly ideas onto weak humans in an effort to gain control over things he should have no control over. 

And I feel glad to live in America and am proud of my country, once again.

The Boy is Growing Up

It’s true.  You look up…and they’re almost grown.  I’ve been busy this past week, and will be the next few, getting my son all ready for graduation.  Prom has come and gone.  Graduation is around the corner.  Parties are being planned.  Memories are rushing through my head.  I won’t bore you with pics of a boy you didn’t know (although, you may have one of your own who is in the same stage in life or close to it), but I will brag about the man he is becoming.  Because that is exactly what is happening, right before my very eyes.  And I’m proud of him.

My son never has a harsh word to say about anyone.  He wouldn’t even know how to form the words to describe that kind of feeling because he just doesn’t look at people that way.  If he sees a negative quality in someone, he observes it,  then lets it alone.  Everyone that crosses his path in life is treated fairly by him, and he sees them as a potential friend and treats them as such.   He treats all people with respect–whether they deserve it or not, or whether they have earned it or not. 

I have watched my son hold doors open for women of all ages, and a few men, too.  He is generous with his things and loans out anything that is his without even a care about having things damaged, lost or not returned.  If there is one piece of chicken left on the serving plate, he will ask if anyone else would care for it before he will take it for himself.  He will ask me if I can give his friends who have no means of transportation a ride home if it is cold or rainy so they won’t have to walk (and, of course, I say yes). 

My son has played a few sports throughout his school years.  While he is fairly competitive and likes to win more than lose, he believes in good sportsmanship and doesn’t mind losing to someone who is good-hearted in whatever sport they are playing. He likes a good joke and lots of laughs with his friends and his family.  He’s intelligent, well-spoken, polite, and well-liked.

And he prays.  He prays in such earnest that I am in awe of him when I see the obvious relationship he has with his God.  It sometimes almost brings me to tears to know that my son is touched so deeply by the faith he has in God. 

He has plans to go to college in the fall.  And as I watch him turn into this great young man who I once knew as a playful little boy, I feel so much joy in my heart that I can barely stand it. For I could not have asked for a better son.  And I wait in great anticipation of the full-grown man he will soon be.  I wonder at what he will do and accomplish in his lifetime.  I believe he will be a great father and husband, friend and co-worker, uncle and mentor.  He is a loving person, always willing to take a hug from me, or surprise me with one of his own, along with a kiss on the cheek. 

And…he let me take his senior pics!  What a great kid!

Sisters and Quilt Shows

Today I had a great time doing a little sister bonding and perusing the Walnut Valley Quilter’s Guild bi-annual quilt show.  It was entitled “There’s No Place Like Home…A Kansas Quilt Show.”  It was about a 45 minute drive from where we both live, so it gave us plenty of time to talk and catch up on what’s been going on in each other’s lives. 

I knew the drive was going to be just a little bit, so I took along some crocheting to keep me busy.  Actually, the truth of the matter is, I wasn’t sure what kind of driver my sister was because I haven’t been a passenger in a car she’s driven in quite some time.  So, I was trying to distract myself — just in case.   I do all the driving around here, chaffeuring my two teenagers around everywhere.  I don’t trust very many people to drive me anywhere, and it’s nerve-wracking for me to be in the passenger’s seat rather than behind the wheel.  I hate having no control in any situation.  I didn’t say I need to be in control of everything, I said I dislike not having even a tiny smidgen of control in a situation. (Did you hear that ex-husband? Do you understand the difference? Oh, hell, you don’t even read my blog!) 

Anyway, she did okay, I guess.  As I said, I tried not to pay too much attention.  It was nice to talk about our interests, how our kids were doing, the similarities in raising teenagers, and family gossip.  Normally, I don’t like gossip and try not to partake in it, but this was family gossip. You know, things I need to know.  The weather was perfect.  It wasn’t supposed to get bad till later in the day so we were fine because we left early enough in the day.  We had a great time looking at all the beautiful, hard work these people put into their quilts. 

         “Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain!”

                               How fun is that?!  I loved all the colors and the artwork.

                  Normally, I’m not a fan of dark quilts in general, but I really liked this next one. 

There was also another room full of quilts called The Patriotic Exhibit.  It was fantastic and very sentimental.  They were so beautiful it made me want to make one to display in my home.  One in particular had the Pledge of Allegiance embroidered on it. 

There was also an area entitled “The Man Cave” with a sign quilted saying exactly that.  At first, I thought it was an exhibit.  I was standing there staring at the sign and the work put into it and the two smaller quilts in the area portraying “man cave” scenes.  There was an older gentleman sitting in a chair and he was not very friendly looking.  We were laughing at the idea (and I was wondering why the man was not telling us anything about the mini-quilts).  Then I realized it was an actual “man cave” for the men who did not want to walk around looking at quilts with their wives!  Ooops!  We quickly walked away, our heads down. 

On the way back, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant to have a bite.  We sat and talked about our kids, laughing and sharing our frustrations over the antics of teenagers.   Finally, we drove home.  We decided we should do this kind of thing more often.  It was nice to get away for a few hours.  And living in the mid-west, there is always something of this nature going on somewhere.  We made plans to make plans for a once-a-month trip during the summer and fall, maybe just traveling to an out-of-town quilt shop for supplies and to drool over the fabric, buttons, patterns and ideas. 

I’m so glad my mother taught us to sew when we were young.  It not only created a good life-skill that helps us save money and gives us another outlet for our creativity, but it brings us together and enables us to continue to create good memories in our lives as we spend time sharing our love of sewing.  And I really enjoy that.

Why I Am Blessed

I read a post last week from a woman who I have never met in person, but who sometimes inspires me and sometimes makes me chuckle with her writings. You can read her post here at  I’ve been thinking about that post everyday since I read it.  It’s about one of those things that you know you should do, but you sometimes get busy with the work part of living — the hard stuff — that you forget to do the good things that make others feel loved by you and that lift them up as often as you should.  It had to do with words and praise.

It was a good reminder for me to remember to praise my own children more often and use kind words to encourage them, and not think that the only way to get them to do the things they should is by using more harsh words in the way of scolding or chastising them for not doing better on something.  Because the truth is, my children are a blessing to me.  They are, in fact, the greatest blessing of my life.  I couldn’t have asked for two better kids.  They are the loves of my life and what truly makes me the happiest in life.

I always knew I wanted to have children and be a mother.   But for a long time, I didn’t know if I would even be able to have any at all.  And I was trying to make peace with the fact that maybe it would never happen for me. 

When it finally did happen, I was elated and knew my dreams of being a mother would now make my life more fulfilled.  …and it has, indeed. 

I never thought I would be a single mother, but that’s how it’s ended up.  I’ve raised my kids alone for the past almost 9 years now.  It’s not been easy, either.  But I would NOT trade my motherhood or my two children for anything in the world.

My kids are almost grown now.  My daughter is 19 and in college, and my son is 16 and will be starting college in the fall.  They both still live at home with me, but I know that won’t last forever.  So, I do try to cherish every moment with them now, while they are here with me everyday, while I can. 

Like the other night when they offered to make shrimp tempura with zucchini and carrots. I’d been having kind of a rough morning, which they noticed.  So, of course, I took them up on the offer.  I’ve taught them both how to cook (as well as how to do their own laundry, which they do) and they do a pretty good job of it.  I took a peek in on them after they had started, and my heart just sang at the sight of them!  My daughter was in one corner of the kitchen dredging the shrimp in flour

… and my son was in the opposite corner battering up the ones his sister had already done.

Then my daughter brought her laptop into the kitchen so they could listen to their own music.  I have my kitchen radio turned to some station that plays classic rock and 70’s music, and they know not to touch the dial!

After she started the music, she went right back to flouring the shrimp, while my son continued to work his magic.



                                                                                                                                                                          Then it was time to start the fry pot.  In the meantime, my daughter made a zucchini tower.  Afterall, there still kids!

I stood there and watched them work together, while they laughed and talked about things that mattered to them.  I felt so lucky and so blessed to have these two wonderful human beings in my life.  They were trying to give me a break from everything and some time to do what I wanted while they made supper.  They’re caring and thoughtful, and they will pull together when they have to in order to get something accomplished. 

Before long, the food was ready.  They had let me sample a few of the shrimp, and it was tasting really good!

We laid a blanket on the floor in the living room and made a sort-of picnic.  (Yes, we do have a dinner table.  But, sometimes, just for old time’s sake, we like to pull our picnic blanket out and do like we did when the kids were little and make a picnic in the living room.) We talked and enjoyed our meal together.  I was truly happy, as I am anytime I get to spend time with them together. 

I told them thank you for making supper, and that I would do the clean-up.  I felt so much better than I did earlier in the day.  And I couldn’t help but think how good my life is because of these two kids.  We’re very close, and I hope we always will be.  And whenever I count my blessings, guess what number one and number two are?!

Things that go bump in the cemetery…I do believe in spooks…

I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do believe in spooks!  So said the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.  And, I think I have to agree with him…just in case. 

I mean, I know my God, my Creator, my Spiritual Highness and my Supreme Being exists for me.  But, I know there’s evil out there, too.  And it scares the bajeebers out of me!  I know not where it lurks, at any given time, and I’m on constant guard (at least on a low simmer most of the time) in case it tries to catch me off guard.  Although, I don’t think I live in fear, per se, just a bit cautious.  I do believe that God will protect me if I call on Him if needed–at least that’s what I’ve been taught. 

I spend most of my days laughing (as much as possible, because I just like “funny”) with my friends and family.  And I always try to stay positive about my life and any situations that occur.  But, I’m also realistic.  I’ve had the “if there’s good in this world, there has to be bad, too” discussions and contemplations.  And I’ve read about the unexplainable evil possessions that take over some innocent victim’s soul, or a family’s house, or those who would attempt to build on a sacred Indian burial ground, etc.  The T.V. is full of all types of ghost hunter shows and such. 

But just writing about this stuff or talking about it out loud or hearing about it makes the hairs on my arms stand on end.  I’m a big scaredy cat, I guess.  I’ve had some experiences that made me shake in my boots, so to speak.  And I don’t know if I’ll ever quit being afraid of the dark, no matter how old I get.  

I’ve always been afraid of cemeteries.  Yes, really!  Could you tell?  But this past summer, I wanted to find my paternal grandfather’s and grandmother’s graves.  I hadn’t been to them in years, and I never really visited them that often before–because I’m afraid of cemeteries, remember?  So, I set out with my son and daughter, to find their markers in the place that I remembered them last. 

I picked a bright sunny day, of course.  And we left early in the afternoon.  The cemetery wasn’t that far from our house.  We’ve driven by it plenty of times, and, occasionally, I would point out to my children, “that’s where Grandpa’s mom and dad are buried” while pointing in the general direction as I drove right on past.  But this time we drove straight there.  I pulled cautiously into the driveway on the side of the cemetery where I remembered them being buried.  I knew we were going to have to get out and walk, but I still tried to park our car as close as possible to where I thought they were–just in case we had to make a run for it. 

My kids, being the adventurers they are (teenagers, you know–they know no fear) took off immediately to check the place out.  Crap! They were going to make me brave it alone.  Why the heck did I bring them for, anyway?  They were suppose to be my backup just in case we ran across something horrible coming up from the ground that might try to grab me by the leg and pull me under. 

After crossing the same area back and forth numerous times, I finally found my grandfather’s grave and marker.  I was so ecstatic that I forgot to be scared about where I was at the time.  His picture was on the headstone and I couldn’t believe how much my dad looked like him.  I could only remember him from when I was very little.  But what I remember about him most are the wonderful smells of food cooking at his house.  …and that he seemed very big (tall). 

I knew my grandmother had to be close by.  I began to walk the area back and forth across, searching for her headstone.  The afternoon had really warmed up, and the sun felt good on my face and back as I walked along.   Finally, I saw it.  Her picture was on her headstone, too.  She was younger than I remembered her, but her smile was the same as always.

I whistled for my children and motioned for them to come over to where I was standing.  There were so excited when I showed them their great grandparents.  I had my camera with me and I took some shots of their markers.  Then I told my kids everything I could remember about my grandparents.  They soaked it all up and walked along with me as I spoke to them. 

We walked a ways more, and then I told them I was going to take some shots of the area.  It just seemed so peaceful and calm.  I found my uncle’s grave and took a shot of his headstone.

As I was walking around, the kids had gone off in another direction to continue to explore, I realized that I was enjoying myself  and felt at peace.  I thought about my grandparents, about my grandmother’s garden and the smells of garlic and cilantro that grew next to the rose-bush with the bright red flowers in her backyard.  I remembered her mother, my great-grandmother, sitting inside in her bedroom, her long silver hair in two long braids that reached to her waist.  She would tie them up across the top of her head, and I thought she was beautiful.

I wasn’t scared of where I was anymore.  The afternoon was gorgeous as the sun headed to the horizon.  I took more shots of the peace I saw and felt.

The sun was really getting low now.  We prepared to leave.  We said our last good-byes and promised to never forget, and maybe even come back sometime soon. 

That was this past summer.  I haven’t been back since.  But I have my photos that I made and printed off and gave to my dad for his birthday.  He cried… I hugged him and it was nice. 

Halloween is just about a week-and-a-half away.  So, I think I’ll just keep driving by until maybe the late winter or early spring.  Maybe then I’ll be able to go again.  In the meantime, I’m starting to feel that creepy feeling again about the cemetery.  I mean, you just can’t be too careful…you just never know…


It’s almost time…!

Yes, kids.  It’s almost Halloween.  Time for scary movies, too much candy, and homemade costumes.  Now, I don’t care much for scary movies.  (They give me the heeby-geebies way longer than they should, so I just gave them up completely.) But I do like the candy, Candy Corn being my favorite. (Read about the History of Candy Corn here, And I’ve made my share of homemade costumes from Vampira, for myself, to Jasmine (from Aladdin) to a Power Ranger for my daughter and son when they were little.

I use to love Halloween when I was a kid.  That’s before the costumes got all gory and terrifying.  Back then, we were things like princesses and ballerinas, and cowboys and firemen.  True, not very scary, but they were still things we wanted to be if we could in our make-believe kid world.  When it started getting all creepy and gory, that’s when I really kind of backed away from it and only took my kids to a few houses.  Then we would just go back home and have our own Halloween party with cupcakes and Charlie Brown’s The Great Pumpkin movie. 

Then, something wonderful started happening in a nearby neighborhood.  People were decorating their houses with bigger than life yard props.  It started with things like a giant crescent moon with a witch sitting on it on the second story of a house, a spotlight shinning to accent it.  Or a freakishly large spider along the side of a house with a giant spider web.  People would notice these great props and started cruising by on the nights before Halloween just to see them. 

Over the years, it has progressed into a major function that people all over the city look forward to attending.  First of all, for the kids, they give out the best candy!  Then, for the adults as well as the kids are the unbelievable sights that you will encounter as you now can walk about in  a 2 block area and a couple of side streets and see all kinds of outlandish decorations and creations and smoke machines  and monsters and ghosts and giant spiders and coffins that rise up from the ground as music on loudspeakers play and 25 foot creatures walk about (a man with wooden sticks controls him from underneath the creature’s cape) and so much more!!!  There are so many people who attend that they now hire out security for the night.  Last year, they had 7 off duty police patrol the area.  As far as I know, they have never had any trouble.  But it’s nice to know the area is patrolled so that we can all enjoy the effort these people go through to make the night the best time a family can have during the Halloween season.

I really look forward to it because I can, once again, enjoy Halloween like I use to when I was a kid. So, thank you, College Hill residents, for all the work you do to make the night enjoyable for all of us who attend.  You do a great job every year, and I so look forward to the good time I get to spend with my older teenagers who I have been taking since they were in grade school. 

These pics are from last year.  Can’t wait to take some new ones from this year!

P.S.  Sorry about the blurriness of some of these.  There is a large crowd and I sometimes have to shoot fast and move on.