Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Forty albums

So, one of my Facebook friends posted this earlier today, and I couldn't get it out of my mind. So I decided to take the time to jot these down now, partially because I want to look at other people's lists, without influencing mine.

"Here are the rules: List 12 albums that have stayed with you (okay, so I went with 40, ‘cause that’s just how I rock ‘n’ roll), but only one album per artist. Don't take too long, and don't think too hard. Tag ten friends to do the same thing, including me, so I can see what you put.
So, here are 40 albums that have stayed with me, more or less in order of preference:"
I decided to go with 40, and pretty much did it stream-of-consciouness, only editing when I would get repeat artists. (Really, limiting me to one RUSH album is insane cruelty.)
I was a little surprised at some of the things that popped into my head, but I think that all of these are albums that--if I were to listen to them right now--I would be able to sing along with every song. I laughed a bit as I saw my mom's music show up midway through, and my kids' music here and there.
But really, I need more RUSH.
1. RUSH     2112
2. Kansas     Point of Know Return
3. Styx       Paradise Theater 
4. Queen    The Game
5. Billy Joel     The Stranger
6. Journey      Evolution
7. Prince and the Revolution    Purple Rain
8. Lynyrd Skynyrd      One More From the Road
9. Beach Boys       Endless Summer
10. Evanescence    Fallen
11. Imagine Dragons   Night Visions
12. Lori Morgan   Something in Red
13. Meat Loaf    Bat Out of Hell
14. Bonnie Tyler   Faster than the Speed of Night
15. Bob Seger     Stranger in Town
16. Night Ranger   Midnight Madness
17.  Hootie and the Blowfish   Cracked Rear View
18. Supertramp   Breakfast in America
19. Survivor    Vital Signs
20. Boomtown Rats      Fine Art of Surfacing
21. Sugarhill Gang    Sugarhill Gang
22. REO Speedwagon   Hi Infidelity
23. Boston    Third Stage
24. Carpenters   A Song for You
25. Olivia Newton John     I Honestly Love You
26. Gordon Lightfoot       Sundown
27. Neil Diamond     Serenade
28. Eagles      Eagles
29. John Mellencamp   Uh-huh
30. Jewel    Spirit
31. Nik Kershaw     Human Racing
32. Ozzy Osbourne   Diary of a Madman
33. Bryan Adams     Cuts Like a Knife
34. Sting       The Dream of the Blue Turtles
35. U2      Joshua Tree
36. Amy Grant   Heart in Motion
37. Mister Mister   welcome to the Real World
38. Manfred Mann   Chance
39. Muse     The Resistance
40. Loverboy   Get Lucky

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Trying to regain lost ground

I have always been in decent shape. I've never been a great athlete, but I've always been relatively strong, have had good stamina, and worked hard to stay flexible. And I've always enjoyed moving, whether walking, playing tennis, swimming, or dancing.

But the last few years have really taken their toll. I was rear-ended at a low speed, which really fired up my existing neck problems. Then I totaled a car. Then I was hit in the lower back by a motorized grocery cart. (!!!) Then I was in another car when it was totaled and cracked a rib. Then I had carpal tunnel surgery and a couple of falls. So I have had several year s of low activity.

The fact that all of this happened as I moved toward and past fifty probably didn't help.

I have lost a lot of fitness ground the past few years, and I've decided that I need to start getting some of it back. Because I already have arthritis and quite a bit of chronic pain from an old neck injury and my ankle reconstruction, anything too vigorous is out, but I've been walking daily, spending quite a bit of time in my pool,  and now after a couple of massages to help out with some of the worst pain and stiffness, I am getting ready to start a yoga class.

I don't want to be weak. Or stiff. I will definitely be in pain, no matter what I do, so I'd rather be hurting while I'm moving, instead of sitting still.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The measure of a life

Teaching me to tie a tie. 1983

So. I lost my step-dad last Friday.

People who don't know me or our family well assume that means that my mom's husband, who was not my father, died and that while I'm sad, it's not--as someone said to me--my father that died.

No. It's not. It's far, far worse.

I know this, because 11 years ago my father, the man who was biologically responsible for my life, and with whom we lived for the first 16 years of that life, did die. And it was hard. It was hard for me to have to give up months of my life caring for someone who had hurt me--and my precious mother-- badly, repeatedly. It was hard for me to care about his eternal well-being, and the fact that that was was hard hurt me, too. But, I wasn't sad that he was gone. I was, to tell the truth, relieved. He could do nothing else to hurt me. He couldn't hurt my children, my brother, my nieces, or my cousins.

But this. This is a searing pain.

John Ronald Harris came into our lives sometime around my 18th birthday, give or take a few months. He was good to my mother and made her happy. He was nice to me and to my friends. As the months, and then years went by he became part of the fabric of our lives. He gave advice, whether I wanted it or not. He teased, but without the cruelty that I was used to.

There was no struggle for me to accept him in our lives. He had that relatively easy, because we all were love-starved. It took me longer to really trust him, but that did come after a few years. As I struggled through my early college years, he was there, supportive for my mother and I both, and treating me as though I was his child, even--when I was having problems--upset about someone messing with "one of his kids."

So when he and mom got married, just less than a year after Colin and I did, I was delighted. I was happy for my mom. I was happy for us. (At that point I didn't know his kids well, but they seemed nice enough.)

That was over 28 years ago. In those 28 years, he paid for the college education that my father was supposed to have helped with. He watched my three year old daughter when she had the chicken pox, so that I wouldn't miss class. He put up with having the kids and I in his house for weeks at a time during various moves. He gave advice, whether I wanted it or not.

And we all grew to love him. Tremendously.

He was generous. One of the most generous people I have ever known. We enjoyed wonderful vacations with my step-siblings that we could never have afforded if he hadn't helped to offset everyone's costs. He gave low interest loans for home down-payments. He was always helping someone out. Many years ago, he and my mom requested that in lieu of Christmas gifts for them we make charitable donations. That is how he was.

And with him we got a, big wonderful family. I got to know his mother well enough that I mourned her passing. I got older brothers and two sisters, and over the years they have brought a richness of in-laws and nephews. We got Godsons and all kinds of other interesting family connections. Most of all, we got a whole bunch of people to love. Brad, Susan, Curt and Brenda shared their father with us unstintingly, and for that I am forever grateful.
Most of the family at Patrick & Emma's wedding, May 30, 2015.

To my children, he was "Grandpa Ron" when they were little, changing to "Grandfather Dear" as they got older. It was an incredibly special relationship, and he always treated my children and my brother's girls exactly the same as he did his grandchildren-by-blood. One of the wonderful gifts God has given us in these last months was to have Wicked (explanation here) present at two of my sons' weddings in May.

Over the last several years he showed us all a wonderful example of courage and faith. As his body got weaker, he kept fighting, and kept living. Instead of getting crabby and bitter, as people so often do when they are wracked with pain and know that death is nearing, he got sweeter and more concerned about all of us. He was sure in his faith, and knew his eternal destination, as did all of us.

I will miss his presence. His bad jokes. The hard time he gave me when I would call on the phone. His many, many emails. And all of the advice, whether I wanted it or not.

I am thankful for the memories. I am thankful for all that he did for my mom, my brother, and for me. I am thankful that my kids had such an awesome grandpa, and that my husband had a father-in-law he could love and respect. I am thankful that he leaves our whole big, wonderful family with so many memories to cherish, that will bring much laughter--and some tears--in the years to come.

The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect,
So hard to earn so easily burned
In the fullness of time,
A garden to nurture and protect
(It's a measure of a life)

The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect,
The way you live, the gifts that you give
In the fullness of time,
It's the only return that you expect
The future disappears into memory
With only a moment between.
Forever dwells in that moment,
Hope is what remains to be seen.
The Garden-RUSH

Monday, June 08, 2015

Caught by surprise

So, last month this happened.
And this happened.
Those are my first and second sons, with their brides.

In the space of less than a month we went from a household of five on the weekends and four during the week (with a friend of the family often upping that to five) to a household of three on the weekends and two during the week.

Just four years ago we were a full-time family of six.

I am discovering some unexpected consequences.

Saturday I cooked one pound of spaghetti and one pound of ground chuck with sauce. We had leftovers. (Two pounds of pasta was long the standard around here.)

Even after I cut up five or six of the rattiest towels, all of my bath towels do not fit on their shelf in the linen closet. Fewer people equals fewer showers equals fewer towels hanging or in the laundry at any given time.

We don't have room for all of the glasses in the cupboard when they're all clean. See towels, above.

I was a mother of four-at-home--and my husband was mostly around--for over 15 years. I have lived with my three teen and young adult sons during the weeks, adding my husband on the weekends, for the last four years. I don't know how to cook for two or three people. I don't know how to manage a small household. The last time we were a household of three was almost 25 years ago.

This is going to take some getting used to.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Family and thankfulness

 I have a pretty big, pretty crazy family.

For the first 22 years of my life, I only had one brother.
Little brother Todd, with mom.

Then my mother remarried and I suddenly gained two step-sisters and two step-brothers. And with them over the years have come their spouses, children, childrens' spouses, spouses' children, grandchildren, spouses' grandchildren. . . .  It has made the very small family that I grew up in into a big, happy, rather chaotic and noisy thing.

Of course, really the family I grew up in wasn't that small. I had grandparents, lots of aunts and uncles, and cousins that increased in number as I got older. And, happily for me, although we have sustained some losses, most of the family remains.
At my cousin Liz's wedding

Then there is the family that I married into. They have been my family, too, for almost 30 years.
Part of the Casey family

And what I am finding it that as our family grows, my definition of family expands, too. Technically, I suppose Bethany's sister-in-law and niece aren't my family, but it sure feels like they are. And although in our culture the parents of the women that my sons are preparing to marry would not be considered family, I think we'll claim them.

And then there are the wonderful friends, who feel like family.

So today, the day after the appointed day of thanksgiving, I am extremely thankful, as I try to always be, for God's good gift of family.

Krissy, Lori, Jacqui, & Beth

Monday, November 03, 2014

Don't mind me

I'm working on a project and need to get these photos onto Pinterest. The quickest way is to put them here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Big happenings

I haven't posted for a while, but not because nothing has been happening. Quite the contrary, the last five months have been quite eventful.

My middle son became engaged to a fine young woman, whose family we have known for over ten years. And there was much rejoicing.

I had a long visit from the daughter and grandkids, and then spent over a week with them in Tucson.

The baby son started college.

And on that very same day, my husband had a heart attack. It could have been really, really bad, but thanks to fast action by him and by the doctors who cared for him, he is doing very well.

Most recently, my oldest son became engaged to a fine young woman, whose family we have known for over ten years. (She is, literally, the girl next door.) There was, again, much rejoicing.

I spent my summer having fun. I enjoyed my family, my friends, and my pool. We had almost constant house guests.  But in the back of my mind the whole time was the nagging thought, "Fall is coming. What are you going to be doing?" No more kids to homeschool or drive from one place to another. So I decided that it was time to move forward with a business that I had been researching and thinking about for six or seven years.

I started taking some steps. I researched the availability of my chosen business name, reserved it with the Secretary of State, and purchased a couple of domain names. I started talking about a website and making lots of lists. I was planning to launch my business in early October, but I decided while I was in Tucson to put it off by about a month so that I could try to get my house and life under control after our busy summer.

Then the heart attack.

I didn't realize until last week how badly that messed with my head. It really sent me into a tailspin. I decided that there was just NO WAY that I could start a business. Messy house. Medical bills. Too much to do. I spent most of two months cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry. I have never in my life spent so much time in my house or in my kitchen. And at the end of two months, I'm not much beyond where I started. It's still in worse shape than it's ever been. I've been trying to convince myself that by staying home I can keep a nicer house and economize in lots of little ways.

Except for one problem: That's not me.

I have always thrived when I am busy. Really busy. With lots of places to go and people to talk to. My house stays cleaner when I have two hours a week to clean it than when I have twenty. (Plus, if I make enough money, I can pay someone else to do it and then two of us will be happy!)

And yes, there are medical bills. And tuition. And rent and a mortgage and car repairs. And, oh, by the way, two weddings next summer. So, maybe I should think about making some money.

All of the sudden last week, I came out of the fog that I had been walking around in. I knew that it was time to get busy and move forward with my business. We need the money. I need the outlet. Our current financial situation is making the start-up very much of a shoe-string endeavor. I am spending money on nothing that isn't absolutely vital to starting and running the business.

My biggest still-extant issues are getting a website up and running and securing insurance.Both have to happen before I can start earning, so they are a priority.

But you all wanted to know what I am going to be doing, right? I am starting a personal and business concierge service, Boulevard Concierge Services, LLC. I will be providing services like errand running, personal shopping, relocation/moving assistance, and event planning, just to name a few. I plan to focus marketing at first to real estate agents, families of senior citizens, and busy professionals. I will do anything that someone wants to pay me to do that is not illegal, unethical, or immoral.

And I am really excited about it. I have SO MANY ideas about services that I could provide. And concierge is not just a service for the wealthy. In fact, I think that my main customer base will be middle to upper middle class women with families, for whom an hour of extra time is a very valuable thing. You hate shopping? I love it and am good at it, and I'll do it for you. You can't leave work to wait for Dish Network for four hours? I'll wait. And while I'm there I'll make homemade mac and cheese and address your Christmas cards. Need a Christmas present for Grandma who doesn't need another scarf or any more chocolates? How about a couple of hours of errand running or of organizing all that stuff that needs to go to Goodwill?

Basically, I am going to get paid for helping people, which, when it comes right down to it, is one of my favorite things to do.

I think that I am going to enjoy the networking and marketing almost as much as the work. And I know it will be a lot of work. And that it won't all be fun. And I know that the money crunch won't ease immediately. But I believe it will ease, because I know that I am going to be successful with this business. I am going to make my customers wonder how they ever lived without me.