Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Arkies in the Big City (or I Love NYC, but I Can Only Stand It For About Three Days At a Time)

On June 13, Tim, John, and I boarded an early morning flight and headed out for Philly. Our itinerary: pick up a car at an auction in NJ about an hour from the airport, drive into NYC for three days; spend a couple of days with Tim's family in NJ and attend the high school graduation of our nephew, Scott; take John back to the airport in Philly on the 18th; road trip home with some planned stops and lots of serendipity.

When we got to the auction in Bordentown, NJ, it took awhile for the security guards on duty to locate the car and release it to us. No surprise there. We have done this deal before, and delays are to be expected. That's Tim and me, above, resting on the curb at the auction, our bags piled in the guard shack behind us.

Finally, after a long delay, we made the hour and a half drive into NYC. While we have been there many times over the years, this was the first time we have ever driven in the city. By "we," I mean Tim. John and I assisted him by alternately hollering, "Look out! Don't you see that taxi?!" , "He's going to run into us!" and "Turn right! No, turn left! Hurry up and get in that lane!"

Let's just say that Tim's patience was taxed by our "help." Poor guy. I don't know how he did it. But, he finally got us to our hotel without a crash. It's a miracle :)

Just getting pulled over and into the area to check into our hotel was an ordeal. It was a relief to turn our car over to the doorman and know that we'd be relying on public transportation for the duration of our stay.
Standing on the sidewalk in front of the hotel, we took in the hurrying throngs, the incessant honking, the sirens, the hum, the vibrant energy. It was great to be back in the city.
John remarked, " I would love to live here!"
That's a pretty standard line for him when he first arrives in a major city; I've heard it over and over. I just smiled to myself. I know that while he might enjoy visiting, he would HATE living in this place.
To be continued . . .

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Marker

Better late than never, I suppose. I wrote this not long before Tim and I left on vacation two weeks ago. When I finished it, I thought, "I'll post this on Father's Day, in memory of Daddy." Technology contrived against me. My laptop and my scanner have an "on again, off again" relationship. The day before we left I wanted to scan in the picture of Daddy and me that is now at the bottom of this post. It turned out that the computer and scanner were not on speaking terms; the relationship was definitely "off." Normally, Tim, my techy husband, can convince them to reconcile, at least for awhile, but this time his attempts were to no avail.
We are now back home, after being gone for two weeks. I have no idea if the laptop and scanner will communicate, but my sweet nephew, Brock, took the picture home, scanned it, and emailed it to me. So here is my Father's Day post, albeit almost a week late:
The third Sunday in May is Decoration Day at the rural cemetary where my parents are buried. My paternal grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents and a huge extended family are interred there as well.

Every year I go and clean the headstone of my parents and decorate their grave. I enjoy it. I think happy thoughts about my parents, visit with relatives I haven't seen for the last year, and wander about among the old headstones, visiting the graves of my departed family, looking for dates and clues to help me learn more about these people from whom I came.

This year Tim went with me to help me do a little work on the day before I was planning to actually take the flowers. As he cleaned out the old styrofoam from the vases on the headstone and cut fresh pieces for the new flowers, we chatted, sharing memories about my parents.

Then I remembered to look for it. The marker. In years gone by, I could not find it. I suppose it had been covered with dirt, and grass had grown over it. In the last few years, I've been able to find it but only after earnestly combing through the thick grass and searching for it.

This year was different. We have had an abundance of rain. The local news reported that our area has had the wettest May on record since 1882. In fact, the cemetary was the worse for it. Old headstones, their footing weakened by the wet earth, had toppled over. Many were broken. It was a sad sight.

However, one good thing came of this. Perhaps, because the dirt around it had washed away, the marker was plainly visible.

"There it is, Honey!" I exclaimed to Tim. He knows well the story of the marker, but he always takes the time to listen.

I knelt down, rubbed my fingers across the rough concrete, and traced the shape of the "B" etched into its rough surface.

Suddenly, I am a little girl again, perhaps three or four years old. Kneeling on the cool, painted concrete floor of the enclosed back porch that serves as our laundry room. I am "helping" my daddy. He has mixed the concrete and poured it into a large tomato juice can. Now he is tracing the "B" into the top. We set it in a secure spot, where it can harden. Later, he will set the marker into the ground at the cemetary to mark the plots he and my mother have selected.

As I touch the marker, the sorrow overwhelms me. The sobs come like a flood without warning. Tim, whose mother died 16 years ago, knows just what to do. I feel his hand on my shoulder. Then he holds me until the sobs give way to gentle weeping, and the tears subside. Soon, I am smiling again, wiping away my tears, and we go on about our work.

I do not often weep over Daddy. He has been gone for almost 28 years now. But there are moments, unexpectedly, that bring his memory to me so vividly that the hurt is as fresh as the day he died.

Daddy left his mark on my life; he lives on in my heart. I was "Daddy's little girl." He made me feel special. He made me believe I could do anything or be anything. That is a legacy no one can ever take from me.
Next year, I'll be looking for the marker.

Daddy and me, age 3 1/2, August, 1960

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spring Highlights: 5K SundaySchool

Working with the precious children in 5K Sunday school during the spring quarter was so much fun. Nina H. was my co-teacher, and Tim, who loves kids, assisted us. Nina was an absolute joy to work with. I was acquainted with her before this but did not know her well. Candy H. told me, "You are going to love Nina. Ya'll are kindred spirits." And so we are.

Here is the balloon release we did on the last Sunday. We had talked about the Holy Ghost throughout the quarter and even had a wonderful move of the Spirit one Sunday, where the children were praying earnestly and one little girl came so close to receiving the Holy Ghost. She did receive it a few days later in church and was baptized in the lovely name of Jesus.

Before the balloon release we talked to the children about how the balloons must have helium in them to go up and compared that to how we must have the Holy Ghost to go to Heaven.

The picture below shows "Paul,", aka Tim, in chains, aboard the ship, along with the other "prisoners," "soldiers," and "sailors."

Tim told the story. During the storm part of the story, Nina and I flashed the lights for lightning, turned on a sound machine with a rain sound and a high powered fan for the wind. The passengers rocked along with the ship in the stormy seas and were finally forced to throw their "suitcases" overboard.

The ship crashed against the rocks, and Nina and I ripped apart the ship while the passengers "swam" and "floated" to safety.

This was one of my favorite lessons. It was so realistic that a couple of the children looked scared. At the end, one little boy said, "Let's do that again!"

Here's Nina with dolls representing the devil and Jesus. The Bratz doll with a goatee made a great devil.

"Jesus" calls some of the "disciples."

"Peter" and "Andrew" with their net.

On Easter Sunday, we made Resurrection Cookies. I had made some at home the night before that I brought to eat after we made the batter in class and put them in the "oven."

Here's one of our little dolls with her crown the Sunday we talked about heaven.

Our church rotates teachers every quarter, so we won't be teaching this summer. But I will always remember this special group of five and six year olds. We made some happy memories.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Best Is Yet to Come!

This blog has been on the back burner for awhile now. Really, it seems like I've taken it off the burner and set it aside. We've had a lot of things "cooking." Work-related things, church-related things, and social-related things. So many, many things to blog about, but we've been so busy living that I haven't taken the time to write about it.

This morning Tim said to me that he wanted me to just take a day for myself. "Don't do anything work-related," he told me. "Don't do anything you don't want to do. Just take care of yourself." That was music to my ears, because to tell the truth, I'm just worn out. "You might want to do a blog post," he said. He knows how much I enjoyed blogging. It was a welcome suggestion.

Where to begin? I haven't posted for about 2 1/2 months, I think.

Hmmm. I think I'll just begin with my honey. He had a birthday May 13. The big 5-0.

Now if you know Tim very well at all, you know he does not want to be the center of attention. He does not do things to call attention to himself. He most certainly would not ever want me to throw him a birthday party. It's just not his style. I'm a different story. I love any excuse for a big time, and I had been hatching plans for Tim's 50th for about 2 years.

To give you a little background, Tim is 2 years, 3 months, and 12 days younger than me, and in his good-natured, teasing way, he has never let me forget it. His teasing intensifies when I reach another decade mark. Here's a sample remark. "I'm just a young man, barely in my forties, and I'm married to a fifty-something woman."

To which I retort, "Yeah, in the tail end of your forties. You better watch it, mister, or I'm gonna get you good when you hit the fifty mark." He just grins. He's not too worried about it at that point. He's got some time. This has been going on for over 20 years now, and he knows the drill.

But when his big decade mark approaches, he starts to get worried. And he has very good reason to. When he turned thirty, I gave him a surprise "Over the Hill" party. Oh, was he ever surprised! We did it up right!

When he turned forty, I gave him a "Happy Birthday to the Old Guy" party. Another surprise. Lots of old geezer stuff. And lots of fun.

When I turned fifty, two years ago, Tim threw a surprise party for me. The theme? "The Best is Yet to Come." That is so typical of Tim. He is the sweetest guy on earth. It made me feel a little guilty about the party themes I chose for him but not too guilty :)

A couple of months before his birthday, Tim began bringing it up. "Honey, you know I don't want you to do anything special for my birthday." I just smiled sweetly. That smile did not bring him any comfort. None at all. He knew I had something up my sleeve. "You're not planning anything are you, Susan?" To which I replied, "You know I am."

He finally asked, "What would it take to get you NOT to do something for my birthday?"

"A nice trip?" I countered. I love to travel.

"You've got it," he said.

I'm a terrible person. I admit it.

Seriously, Tim loves to travel too. But he feels he should be working, not galavanting about. He works too hard and too long, and I threaten to kidnap him and take him far, far away where he has no cell phone signal. Where he can relax and recharge his batteries. And while I have never actually kidnapped him, I do plan our travels, to which he reluctantly agrees. Then, he has the biggest time of anyone on the trip, and comes home the better for it.

Last summer we took a couple of trips, where he had no cell phone reception (Holmes County, Ohio, home of the USA's largest Amish community) or where the reception was limited or just too expensive (Prince Edward Island, Canada).

It has been a long time since we got away for more than a couple of days, so my taking him up on a trip in trade for no big birthday bash was not a totally selfish move. He needs a break.

Tim and I spent a couple of quiet days at the farm for his birthday. He said it was the best birthday he has ever had.
We have an upcoming trip planned :)

I did not give him the party I was planning. The theme? "Welcome to the AARP!" I was planning to give it at the Patrick Henry Hays Senior Citizen's Center here in our lovely city. I had planned to present him with his AARP card. But, as he pointed out, he doesn't need his own card. He's had AARP benefits for over two years now, since he's married to "a much older woman."

Happy birthday, darling! I love you so! The best is yet to come!