Monday, December 27, 2010

A real Good Samaritan

This comes to us in a round a bout way through author and self proclaimed grumpy old man, Gary Kelly. It's an article from the BBC as written by the original author.

One act of kindness that befell British writer Bernard Hare in 1982 changed him profoundly. Then a student living just north of London, he tells the story to inspire troubled young people to help deal with their disrupted lives.

The police called at my student hovel early evening, but I didn't answer as I thought they'd come to evict me. I hadn't paid my rent in months.

But then I got to thinking: my mum hadn't been    too good and what if it was something about her?

We had no phone in the hovel and mobiles hadn't been invented yet, so I had to nip down the phone box.

I rang home to Leeds to find my mother was in hospital and not expected to survive the night. "Get home, son," my dad said.

I got to the railway station to find I'd missed the last train. A train was going as far as Peterborough, but I would miss the connecting Leeds train by twenty minutes.  I bought a ticket home and got on anyway. I was a struggling student and didn't have the money for a taxi the whole way, but I had a screwdriver in my pocket and my bunch of skeleton keys.

I was so desperate to get home that I planned to nick a car in Peterborough, hitch hike, steal some money, something, anything. I just knew from my dad's tone of voice that my mother was going to die that night and I intended to get home if it killed me.

"Tickets, please," I heard, as I stared blankly out of the window at the passing darkness. I fumbled for my ticket and gave it to the guard when he approached. He stamped it, but then just stood there looking at me. I'd been crying, had red eyes and must have looked a fright.

"You okay?" he asked.

"Course I'm okay," I said. "Why wouldn't I be? And what's it got to do with you in any case?"

"You look awful," he said. "Is there anything I can do?"

"You could get lost and mind your own business," I said. "That'd be a big help." I wasn't in the mood for talking.

He was only a little bloke and he must have read the danger signals in my body language and tone of voice, but he sat down opposite me anyway and continued to engage me.

"If there's a problem, I'm here to help. That's what I'm paid for."

I was a big bloke in my prime, so I thought for a second about physically sending him on his way, but somehow it didn't seem appropriate. He wasn't really doing much wrong. I was going through all the stages of grief at once: denial, anger, guilt, withdrawal, everything but acceptance. I was a bubbling cauldron of emotion and he had placed himself in my line of fire.

The only other thing I could think of to get rid of him was to tell him my story.

"Look, my mum's in hospital, dying, she won't survive the night, I'm going to miss the connection to Leeds at Peterborough, I'm not sure how I'm going to get home.

"It's tonight or never, I won't get another chance, I'm a bit upset, I don't really feel like talking, I'd be grateful if you'd leave me alone. Okay?"

"Okay," he said, finally getting up. "Sorry to hear that, son. I'll leave you alone then. Hope you make it home in time." Then he wandered off down the carriage back the way he came. I continued to look out of the window at the dark. Ten minutes later, he was back at the side of my table. Oh no, I thought, here we go again. This time I really am going to rag him down the train.

He touched my arm. "Listen, when we get to Peterborough, shoot straight over to Platform One as quick as you like. The Leeds train'll be there."

I looked at him dumbfounded. It wasn't really registering. "Come again," I said, stupidly. "What do you mean? Is it late, or something?"

"No, it isn't late," he said, defensively, as if he really cared whether trains were late or not. "No, I've just radioed Peterborough. They're going to hold the train up for you. As soon as you get on, it goes.

"Everyone will be complaining about how late it is, but let's not worry about that on this occasion. You'll get home and that's the main thing. Good luck and God bless."

Then he was off down the train again. "Tickets, please. Any more tickets now?"

I suddenly realised what a top-class, fully-fledged doilem I was and chased him down the train. I wanted to give him all the money from my wallet, my driver's licence, my keys, but I knew he would be offended.

I caught him up and grabbed his arm. "Oh, er, I just wanted to…" I was suddenly speechless. "I, erm…"

"It's okay," he said. "Not a problem." He had a warm smile on his face and true compassion in his eyes. He was a good man for its own sake and required nothing in return.

"I wish I had some way to thank you," I said. "I appreciate what you've done."

"Not a problem," he said again. "If you feel the need to thank me, the next time you see someone in trouble, you help them out. That will pay me back amply.

"Tell them to pay you back the same way and soon the world will be a better place."

I was at my mother's side when she died in the early hours of the morning. Even now, I can't think of her without remembering the Good Conductor on that late-night train to Peterborough and, to this day, I won't hear a bad word said about British Rail.

My meeting with the Good Conductor changed me from a selfish, potentially violent hedonist into a decent human being, but it took time.

"I've paid him back a thousand times since then," I tell the young people I work with, "and I'll keep on doing so till the day I die. You don't owe me nothing. Nothing at all."

"And if you think you do, I'd give you the same advice the Good Conductor gave me. Pass it down the line."

Has a stranger ever done you a good turn? We're all here to hear about the brighter side. So, tell us in the comments section.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Don't forget to live

Everyone dies. But not everyone lives.

I heard this a couple of weeks ago and thought it especially good for this season. Working my second job, I see a lot of people running around doing the Christmas shopping thing. They are all in such a hurry. They have their list and their budget and a time slot to get it all done in. They need to make sure that everything is just perfect. The decorations have to be right. The food has to be right. The family has to be there.

I see them all rushing so they can have the perfect Christmas. What I don't see, is them enjoying the holiday. In my house, we have made a pact to keep it simple. We buy for those that we want to buy for and we go to the houses that we want to go to. We enjoy visiting with friends and family, we just don't see the need to do it on a particular day at a certain time. We'd rather visit when it's best for everyone. Even if that means sometime in January. Winter is long and cold in Michigan.So we like to spread everything out a little. Our visits are more personal and meaningful than the 28 person dinners of old. There's no pressure to buy gifts for people that you barely know or have a huge meal ready at a particular time. It's a more relaxed take on the holiday, we know. But, we enjoy every minute of it.
Do you live your life? Or do you rush through trying to get everything done? In the end, will they remember that you had everything on the table at 3pm and there was 14 people present? Life is short, live it to the fullest. Let your legacy be that of someone that everyone loved to spend time with, because time spent with you is always the best way to spend life.

Thank you to everyone that has visited the Brighter Side this year and have a great Christmas season.

I'm looking forward to sharing more stories with you next year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I'll start this with a quote from John Quincy Adams

"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."

With the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), this quote seems especially true.
And with permission from my beloved friend (one of the men who traveled to Toronto to witness my wedding five years ago) and the author of this guest post, I bring you the opinion of a career military man that is gay.



It is dead, it is gone and I never, ever thought it would happen in my life time. Untold thousands of men and women have served honorably in silence and fear. I know - I was one of them. Twenty four years of absolute terror of being found out was unbelieve pressure. I am certain that the stress from this STUPID policy was a large part of the three heart attacks I have been throuh. Haven't had any problem since I retired. There has NEVER been any reason for the DADT or even the never popular "holy shit he/she is gay - automatic dishonorable discharge." I would have lost the best job in the world, my retirement, and my self worth.

I was so happy to be on the reception desk at Affirmations (a GLBT community center in Ferndale, MI) when the vote took place. What a great way to celebrate this historic occassion. I am not ashamed to admit I broke down in tears of joy and relief.

I went out to celebrate with friends tonight and found I was in such a strange mood that I said the heck with it and came home to comtemplate the entire event. As I sit here with a toddy beside me (and several inside me), I find I am still emotionally charged. Doubt if I will sleep at all.

Both of my sons have called to make sure I was gonna be ok - they knew what this meant to me and were concerned I would stress out. Having their support means more than they will ever know.

I am about to hit Google and see some of the reactions from the American public. Believe I will ignore McCann, Limbaugh, and that stupid, ignorant Glen Beck!

Good night all and thank you for your support!

This is truely, The Brighter Side of the Grave.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snow Day!

It's a beautiful sunny day here in Southeast Michigan. Although it's not officially winter yet, two nights ago we got hit with our first measurable snowfall of the season. It was a wet and heavy snow. Great for packing as they say. The kind that's great for making a snowman. So we did. Not our best work ever, but since right after the snowfall, so fell the temperature. It is bitter cold out there. Below the freezing mark and no sign of returning to the positive numbers anytime soon. It's the kind of snow that if you got hit with a snowball made from it, it would hurt and definitely leave a mark.
It is beautiful, that's for sure. After our burial today, I couldn't help but to take some shots around the cemetery for you.

While it's been difficult to dig us out of this snowy mess, our neighbors on the other side of the border have not been as lucky as us. It seems as though a band of snow took up residence over the large space of land between our border and London, Ontario. London is the town that got hit with a meter of snow last week. The freeway and ALL other roads are closed and impassible. There are over 300 cars and trucks stranded on the freeway. They are evacuating people on snowmobile and in helicopters and encouraging them to stay with their vehicles until rescue workers can get to them. On this side of the border, this translates to our freeway being lined with miles and miles of trucks waiting to cross the border. These truckers are stuck with no place to go. I did see a catering truck out there selling them food and beverages. But all they can do is wait. It doesn't help the situation that on both sides of the border, there are power outages in homes and businesses. With temperatures below freezing and no heat in homes and all these people stuck on the freeway, you can imagine that rescue, repair and road workers are a little busy.

All this makes me excited to see what winter will bring. And even more excited for spring.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Something's not right

Something just doesn't seem right here...

Who buys fish from BP anyway?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Just another day...

As usual, my day started yesterday. This time as early as 11:30am. Various things kept me going for most of the day. When I was able to finally lie down, my mind would not stop and eventually it was time to get up for the night job. It was a pretty uneventful night. None the less, it requires staying up all night. As usual, when I finished up there, it was time to get cleaned up and head off to work.

When I left to get the hearse out of the garage, it was 15f (or -8c). Since it was raining the last time I used it, it was quite the mess and needed washed. (Every family deserves a clean hearse) It was going to be a 35 mile drive to my job for the day, so I decided to wash it closer to where I was going to. Hoping that it would miraculously turn warmer outside along the way. At about the half way point, I was in neer white out conditions of snowfall. The large flakes mesmerizing me as I drove into the wind with the long dark blue hearse. By the time I reached the neighboring town, it had subsided, but had left about two inches of fluffy white snow everywhere. I pulled off the interstate and into the car wash opting for the automatic wash today. And yes, I washed the hearse in a snow storm. They really need to increase the dry time in the winter months to avoid doors freezing shut. When the wash had finished, I threw on my long black top coat and made sure all the door frames were dry and the car was looking good. then I proceeded to the funeral home.

Upon arrival, I climbed out of the drivers seat and started to bundle up for an hour of standing in the cold. That's when I noticed, the hearse looked the same as before I had washed it. And of course, the rear door had frozen shut. I made sure that it was in the sun because I'll need to open that in an hour or so, or none of us are going anywhere.

Today we had a predominately Baptist crowd. I've noticed in the past that the people from this particular church in town are always in a good mood. As each car pulled up and put down there window and I enjoyed the heat pouring from their car on my face, they would joke about something. Some would think that I was the valet attendant or parking tax collector. They would offer to get me a hot coffee from Tim Horton's or just let me feel a little extra warmth until they were cold enough that they wanted the window back up. Everyone stopped as they pulled in. I didn't have to chase anyone down or throw myself in front of their car. Yup, a very friendly bunch, in deed.

Because of the extreme cold, we used the chapel at the cemetery and everything went pretty smoothly. Then the family decided that they wanted to go to the grave side as well. That's when Lake Huron decided to spit out a cloud filled with snow. The wind picked up from across the lake and snow was actually drifting around the peoples shoes as they stood there. It was so cold that it went rather quickly and we soon had the lid on the cement vault and the family on their way. That's when the sexton pointed out to me the vault next to our grave. Often when we dig a grave, you can see the vault of the neighboring grave. The burial had taken place in 1927. The vault was made of metal.  The metal had rusted so much that it was about to the point of collapse. Fortunately, the ground was so frozen that there was no danger of it giving way today.

If you look closely, just below the casket you can see the corner of the 1927 vault.
 Burial vaults have come a long way over the years. Even the cheapest ones now are made of cement. Some are lined with copper or stainless steel. It all depends how much you want to spend. The lids can be plain or finely carved. You can even have the name inscribed so that even if the stone were to disappear, the body could be identified. As I mentioned, the neighboring vault today was made of metal. It was very popular at the start of the industrial revolution. Before that most were made of wood, if one was used at all. Most wood vaults would be gone by now leaving no protection from the wet earth at all.

So, I wrapped things up at the cemetery and headed back home. I still can't seem to warm up. Perhaps it is because I am staring out the window at the snow falling gently in my garden. While it is beautiful, anyone that doesn't live in Hollywood knows, it's cold! They are saying that it's not going to stick today or amount to much. Not until Friday at least. But, a neighboring city on the other side of the Canadian border got hit with a meter of snow last night. Sometimes these Great Lakes protect us and sometimes, they make it worse.

Now, it's off to bed for me. I've got to get up in 5 hours and do it all again.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just an average day

Today was a late funeral. While most are done in the early morning, some are in the afternoon. So, I got there a little before noon to start lining up cars for the procession. Most of the family was already there and lined up for me. So at that point, I figure that it's going to be an easy one for me. So the representative from the funeral home went inside to do whatever it is that they do while I'm standing out in the cold.

Twenty minutes after noon, I start to realize that I've got 3/4 of the parking lot filled and I've still got 40 minutes of people arriving. And the cars keep comming. One after another. By 12:30, I'm on my last row available and my lot for people not going in the procession is FULL. I've got six cars in the driveway awaiting my direction. So while I'm talking with a driver, I'm dialing the funeral home up on my phone. The wind was starting to pick up and causing all sorts of noise on the phone. After a few unheard cries for help, I yell into the phone, "I need Bob out here now!" He came rather quickly and we had to stop traffic on the street, back the people out of the driveway and have them pull onto the grass of the empty lot next door. Meanwhile, people are still coming.

By 1:00 I had cars everywhere I could think to put them. If I could have started a second layer high, it would have been done. Inside, there were people everywhere. This woman had a lot of friends and family and they all wanted to be there. The night before at the visitation we had almost 200 people sign the guest book. At today's funeral, every chair, all 375 were filled and people were standing.

By the time we reached the cemetery with the procession, we realized that the funeral going on at another home in town, had just gotten there before us. It too, was a large one. The guys at the cemetery were panicking. In a snap decision, we decided to go graveside, instead of at the chapel. Mind you it's the last day of November and the clouds above look like one of those movies where they show a bunch of clouds moving in, in a sped-up motion. So the winds were kicking off the shore of Lake Huron and the rain is starting (coming in sideways of course). Umbrellas are collapsing in the wind and high heels are sinking in the mud. We had our favorite reverend going with the flow. He really is amazing. Nothing seems to bother him. And to look at myself or the funeral director, you wouldn't think anything was wrong at all today. Just another average day in the funeral business.

By the time I was on my way back to the garage, the weather had taken a turn for the worst. Those rolling clouds had turned black and it looked like it was night time despite the actual time of 4pm. It was all I could do to keep that 22 foot long Cadillac on the road with the winds blowing from all direction, seemingly all at once. Somehow, I made it through it and now I am home safely. The sun has just set and a gentle rain is falling outside my office window. The Christmas lights that my husband strung in the pines outside are all lit up and glistening in the rain. My dog, Pugsley is nestled at my feet and all is right with the world.

I'll take a knapp now and then head off to work at the drug store.
I challenge anyone with an eight hour a day job, to keep up with me.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A very sad night

As a second job, I am a midnight manager for a well known pharmacy. For the past four years that I have been there, we have enjoyed the company, overnight, of our dedicated pharmacist. Both Shelly and Steve worked some crazy hours. Their shifts were 12 hours for 7 days straight with a week off between. Basically working two weeks worth of time in one week. They have been there for all the people that have needed them for all these years in the middle of the night. Unlike the daytime pharmacist, they work alone. No techs to help them out.
Over the years we've become very good friends and have come to count on each other to always be there.
Suddenly, without any warning, our corporate people decided to close our pharmacy at night. The store is still open. But no pharmacy. Last night was the first night with the pharmacy being closed. It was a very strange. First we had to located the keys to lock up and get everything closed. Then the gates came down for the first time in 9 years. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to go over and say something to Shelly. But she wasn't there.  :(

The night before, we threw an impromptu party for our favorite pharmacist to wish her the best in her new position at another store. We all cried. It will never be the same and defiantly feels like a completely different store without them there.

I suppose we will get used to it. But let it be known, we are not happy about it.

Good Luck out there Shelly, we will miss you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

my favorite reverend

Today we had our favorite reverend officiating. Why is he our favorite? He has to be the nicest guy that anyone has ever met. He is the Chaplin at the local hospital and is there for so many people in their last days. He's sat many times and watched as someone takes their last breath. He tells the story of a woman that upon her last breath, she opened her eyes bright and called out her mother's name in the biggest voice that she could (which was barely more than a whisper) and then pass away.

He does his research for each and every person. Asking questions of the family and diving into history books. Everyone is treated like a good friend. He's the kind of guy that we should strive to be like.

He'll start the service talking about the dates. The date the person was born and the date that they passed on. Then reminds everyone, it's not the dates or the longevity that matters. It's how you spent the time that you had here on this beautiful earth. Starting with the date of birth, he tells everyone how much a loaf of bread cost or a gallon of milk when the person was born. Today's guest of honor was born in 1916. It was the year that Henry Ford gave equal pay to women and men. A whole $5 per day. That year, you could buy a new car for approximately $250. Or a modest house for $850. Income tax had not been enacted yet and what you made was yours to keep. Unless you were a young person working and sending money back home for your parents to raise the other kids.

Then he'll work his way through history. Telling bits of common history mixed with facts about the deceased. Like today's woman who learned to dance in the roaring 1920's and kept on dancing until her legs couldn't do it anymore. Then she just stood there on the dance floor while everyone danced around her. He talks about her family and how she would crochet each grandchild an afghan and how she had told him how disappointed she was that she could not finish the one she had started for the great, great grandchild that was still on the way.

He finishes up with a letter that she may like to write from heaven. Telling everyone that she made it there OK and all her family that had passed on before her was there to greet her. And that she will be waiting patiently for each of them as their time comes. And P.S. God says hi.
He gets me every time with that.

The man does a  lot of funerals and his speech is very similar each time. I love how he always puts those personal touches in there. Always remembering to mention key people attending and quirky little things that each person liked to do when they were alive. He reminds us all that it is our turn to live. It's our turn to make memories and pass on bits of knowledge that we've picked up along the way.

After driving out to the cemetery, he'll remind everyone to look around at the dates on the headstones and remember that it's the dash between the dates that matters most.

Spend your dash wisely, he says.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ashes or Dust

"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."

Jack London
American Author

I must apologize for my absence lately. I have been distracted from my routine. While I welcome these distractions, I realize that it tends to upset what some have become used to. But as the above quote states, I'd rather live my life to the fullest than sit and wait patiently for the end.

The trick I've learned over the past month is to find a balance. If a person wants to have people in his life for the long term, he must find a way to have the exciting experiences, without leaving the ones that he loves behind. I tend to dive head first into everything new when sometimes it's best to test the waters first. My antics lately seem to have pushed some people away. If there is a goal to it all, I'd hope that it stirs things up just enough to push us to the next level, whatever that may be. It's taken me a long time to get where I am and I don't wish to give it all up. But I also do not want to stay stagnant and bored. I'm hoping that my friends will see an even funner side of me. And my husband, a renewed spark or two.

Next weekend, my life-mate and myself will be heading out to Toronto for a much needed weekend together, without the distractions. Toronto is our favorite city with plenty to do all the time. I hope to come back from there completely exhausted, every atom of me in a magnificent glow and a little more balanced.

Friday, November 5, 2010

"When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change."

....Thich Nhat Hanh

This is often a difficult thing to do. If we apply ourselves to understanding our differences, we will all grow. By showing your friends and family that you care enough to try to understand them, they will in turn, try to understand your point of view. In the end we all respect each other for who we are and how we feel about  the issues.

As I'm sure you can tell by the last few post, it's been a weird week. But we are getting through it because we are trying to be understanding of each other. If you are having trouble, I hope these words can help you too.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It happens all the time...

It happens all the time in heaven,
And some day
It will begin to happen
Again on earth -
That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are Lovers,
And women and women
Who give each other Light,
Often will get down on their knees
And while so tenderly
Holding their lover's hand,
With tears in their eyes,
Will sincerely speak, saying,
'My dear, How can I be more loving to you;
How can I be more Kind?'


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Walk Away

For my sister.....

Walk away Walk away Walk away

From gods who demand thoughtless obedience

Walk away

From pettiness that will make you petty

Walk away

From anger that will eat your insides

Walk away

From abuse which steals your soul

Walk away

Gaining strength with each stride

Walk away

Alone, arm-in-arm or in tandem

Walk away

Yet do not run away in fear

Walk away

You, first among equals

Walk away

Holding head high

Walk away


....Frederick J. Cowie, Ph.D.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Holloween

This weekend is my husbands favorite holiday of the year.

The house is decked out with purple and orange lights. There is an overgrown cemetery where the garden once was, and a real casket is ready to go on display along the smokey walkway leading to our front door, where candy waits for the little goblins that call our little hometown, home.

The hearse is not a toy and will stay in the garage where it belongs. As that is our business, we can't afford anything to happen to it.

I'm going to do my best to take some photos when everything is in full effect and get them up here on the blog.

While we wait for the big day, enjoy your weekend and may you "Rest in Pieces"

Friday, October 29, 2010

It gets better video

Something a little different today....

For my followers on facebook, I know you've already seen this but I've enjoyed a good cry more than once from this and I offer it to you as well.


This goes out especially to Nickohlas.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tasting Life

Before the young man began his studies, he wanted assurance from the Master.

"Can you teach me the goal of human life?"

"I cannot," replied the Master.

"Or at least its meaning?"

"I cannot."

"Can you indicate to me the nature of death and of life beyond the grave?"

"I cannot."

The young man walked away in scorn. The disciples were dismayed that their Master had been shown up in a poor light.

Said the Master soothingly, "Of what is it to comprehend life's nature and life's meaning if you have never tasted it? I'd rather you ate your pudding than speculated on it."

.....Anthony De Mello, 1931-1987, was a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist who became widely known for his books on spirituality.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the hows and whys that we forget to just enjoy ourselves.

This weekend, a friend is entering a drag pageant. I will get out there and taste this thing called life (and maybe a cocktail) and be at the show, cheering him on. What will you do to taste life this weekend?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Warshing" Clothes Recipe......

Never thought of a "washer" in this light before. what a blessing!
"Warshing Clothes Recipe" -- imagine having a recipe for this ! ! !
Years ago a Bisbee grandmother gave the new bride the following recipe:
this is an exact copy as written and found in an old scrapbook -
with spelling errors and all.


Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water. Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert. Shave one hole cake of lie soap in boilin water.

Sort things, make 3 piles
1 pile white,
1 pile colored,
1 pile work britches and rags.

To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down with boiling water.

Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, and boil, then rub colored don't boil just wrench and starch.

Take things out of kettle with broom stick handle, then wrench, and starch.

Hang old rags on fence.

Spread tea towels on grass.

Pore wrench water in flower bed. Scrub porch with hot soapy water.

Turn tubs upside down.

Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs.. Brew cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessings.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Do something nice for yourself

How often do we stay at home because we just don't have the money to go out or don't feel like dealing with everything out there ?

Every Saturday, I take my parents their medications for the week. I really did not feel like going this week. I was tired and just wanted to rest. But, they need what they need, so like the good son that I am, I sorted them all out and drove the 5 miles to their lakeside home.
After spending some quality time with them, I decided I was feeling a little better and walked across the street to the shopping center that is there. The clearance rack seemed to jump out at me and I found the kewlest shirt on sale for 80% off! It was $2.97 + tax. Now, who could pass up a nice shirt for 2.97? Feeling good about my purchase, I strolled through the rest of the shopping center and ran into a friend. We sat and had a wonderful cup of white chocolate mint coffee and talked for what must have been an hour.

There I was, feeling tired and not wanting to do anything. A simple choice of not listening to that little voice in my head that said to shuck my responsibilities, turned out to bring me a wonderful evening. So on this strangely warm autumn day here in Michigan I offer you a little advise, if you'll have it....

Buy something nice for yourself. Show it off. Be proud. Love your taste. Love yourself. Spin some secrets, tell a few. Stay out too late every so often and sleep in too long. Play loud music. Make a few mistakes. Celebrate everything. And when no one is looking, kiss the back of each of your hands in quick succession... Mwah! Mwah!

You are worth it. There isn't a moment in any day, when someone, somewhere, isn't better off because of something you've done.

And no matter what you do, or don't do, with the rest of your life, you cannot now comprehend the amounts of love, joy, and personal assistance that are already being pressed out to you in gratitude.

Kiss! Kiss!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Saint Theresa's Prayer

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be confident knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Be as happy as you want

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
- Abraham Lincoln
My mother used to take me to a great sledding hill in a local park when I was a child. Little did I know that just a short walk from the sledding hills was a great old summer home of the areas most elite. The family has a building in downtown Detroit named after them and two roads in a neighboring county also named for their family. Evidently, while sledding here in the 70's, the old woman that lived there was enjoying her mansion just through the trees. They tore down her home in the 80's and all that is left now is a stone wall that surrounded it, the stairs that led from the tennis court up to the house and the old tennis court. There is a lovey tree lined lane leading up to the old estate grounds that takes your breath away. Then you come to these stone steps. Absolutely amazing. We ran across this last year while hiking in the woods and wondered what it all must have been. A little research has led to the fact that the family had donated the land where the park sits now.
The park boast over 35 miles of dirt trails and 6 miles of paved bike paths. It has 4461 acres of land including a small river and a lake with two beaches and an island. There is a golf course, disc golf course & ample picnicking areas galore. It seems to go on forever and they've barely scratched the surface when it comes to the land usage.
Growing up in the area, I really had no idea how grand this little park was. I've now got a new appreciation for it and plan on visiting at least once a week. At least that's what Pugsley tells me.
I've made up my mind to be quite happy with this new (old) find of ours.

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Just another bump in the road"

 How appropriate that I found this marker while waiting at the cemetery.

You just never know what each day will bring. It was a nice autumn day. We had a wonderful funeral honoring a young man that had been cut down in the prime of his life. After the long procession along the coast line, up to the old country cemetery, the pall bearers carried him to his final resting place.

That's when the his wife took me by the sleeve and pulled me closer. She whispered in my ear, "That's not his grave".

We continued with the service, so as not to alarm anyone. While they said their prayers, I was able to get the cemetery workers together and figure out what to do.

Once all the Amens had been said, we figured out where the grave was meant to be. Then after the family had gone, we pulled him out of the first grave, set him back into the hearse and proceeded to mark out where the proper grave was to be. Then filled in the first hole and started digging the second. Since the new grave was located under a 100 plus year old oak tree, there was a lot of roots to cut through and the weather started to change from sunny to wind and rain. But, as we always do, we were able to finish the job properly and he is now resting under that old oak tree.

Just another bump in the road in deed.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It gets better

I was recently in one of the smaller towns in our area. One that isn't exactly known for it's friendliness to gays. While there, I thought I'd stop and enjoy a quick lunch along the riverside. Around me was kids skateboarding, boats going up and down the river, bicyclist navigating the path along the river and two young men sitting and talking on the riverbank.
Then suddenly, one of the men leaned over and kissed the other. Next thing I knew he was on top of him and they were making out, right there on the riverbank with others watching everywhere. Of course the skateboarding kids were the first to notice. I thought to myself, "this is not going to be good". I was at the ready to jump in and defend them if necessary. The kids made their way closer and I was getting nervous for the two guys. People in the passing boats, didn't seem to care. And then one of the kids yelled out "My friend wants in on some of that!" I couldn't believe my ears. I sat quietly watching. The men moved to a more secluded spot. The kids followed and eventually approached them. I wished that I could hear the conversation. Eventually the kids left them and the guys walked down the riverbank holding hands and talking. They passed by me and I smiled and gave them a reassuring nod. As they walked further, a cyclist passed them and greeted them. As they disappeared around a corner, I felt like I had just witnessed a wonderful thing.
Something truly wonderful had just happened in this small town. It touched me deeply that this young couple was comfortable enough to show their love in public and that they were not beat up or even prodded along by the police. Perhaps there is hope for this world after all. This event changed my view of not only this small town, but of the world.

This could never have happened when I was younger. Or even eleven years ago when I met my husband. So in the theme that we are hearing so much on the net lately, YES! It gets better. It has gotten better and it will continue to get even better.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Will you like me?

I remember back in 6th grade, I wrote a girl named Wendy a note that said, "Wendy - I like you a lot. Will you like me too? Yes No Maybe. Please circle one and return to me."

Yes... it's embarrassing. But what I realize is that many of us do this exact same thing as adults every day of our lives. Its as if we are handing out pieces of paper every day to family, co-workers, even complete strangers, seeking their approval. For instance, we say things (or don't say things) to family in hopes that they will "like us". We do things at work (or don't do things) to make sure we're accepted by others. We'll even dress a certain way to gain the approval of others; this is called trying to fit in. All these scenarios are like we are handing out slips of paper that say, "Will you like me?" It's really kinda crazy, when you think about it.

I realize I've sought approval from others my whole life. I've taken it to the extreme wherein I actually used to derive my entire substance of self-esteem from the approval of others. It put me in a precarious position, because it puts all the power in the hands of others. When the others disappear, or disapprove, what are you left with? An empty, hallow esteem. That's a horrible place to be.

Instead of handing out notes asking people to like us, wouldn't it be better to hand out slips of paper that say something like, "I like you, and I just wanted you to know. You're welcome to like me to, but either way, I'll be fine and I'll still like you. With love." Isn't that nice? No needs, no looking to others for validation and wholeness. This opens the possibility to have expectancy regarding including someone in your life, but to live with expectancy is far different than expectation. One is open-ended and is based on positive energy. The other is negative and focused on judgment and game-playing. This same concept holds true when dealing with sales, or driving your car. It's true in all areas of life and opens up new possibilities and opportunities.

Oh, by the way... Wendy circled "Maybe" and we held hands once. She never spoke to me again. But it's okay. I liked her. She didn't like me, then I realised that I like boys better, but I'm fine. With love. :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thought for the week

As any dog will tell you, "It's the simple things in life that are the best".

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Keep your fork !

Once again, my friend Jack comes through with another wonderful story. The stories that he passes along to me are an inspiration. Not as much of an inspiration as Jack, himself is, but definately worthy of passing along to my readers. And Jack, I'll gladly take on that sweet responsiblity, anytime.

There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things 'in order,' she contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.

She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the Pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.

'There's one more thing,' she said excitedly.

'What's that?' came the Pastor's reply.

'This is very important,' the young woman continued. 'I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.'

The Pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.

That surprises you, doesn't it?' the young woman asked.

'Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request,' said the Pastor.

The young woman explained. 'My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, 'Keep your fork.' It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!'

So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder 'What's with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them: 'Keep your fork ..the best is yet to come.'

The Pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that something better was coming.

At the funeral people were walking by the young woman's casket and they saw the cloak she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand.. Over and over, the Pastor heard the question, 'What's with the fork?' And over and over he smiled.

During his message, the Pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

He was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come. Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share.... Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a sweet responsibility.

Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND...and I'll bet this will be an Email they do remember, every time they pick up a fork.!

And just remember...keep your fork!

And have a great day!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Corrected by myself

Although the research that I've done insist over and over that the stone individual markers started in the 18th century, I have a photo here of one from Plymouth Massachusetts that says the 17th century. History tells us that there are older graves in this particular cemetery. However, this is the oldest known stone here.

Burial Hill, as it's known in Plymouth was an active cemetery from the
1620's until 1957.
For those that believe in ghost, it is said that each night around dusk a woman in a flowing dress can be seen at the top of these steps leading into the burial grounds. She is supposedly looking for her man
that was lost at sea.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

History of a Tombstone

Here in Michigan the oldest grave markers that you will find average to have been erected around 1850. Before that, there was typically only markers made of wood.
A persons immediate family would be able to visit the grave of a loved one as long as they lived in the area. After that, it was neglected and forgotten. Eventually giving in to time and weather and fading along with the memory of the person who died. The only persons with a more permanent marker would have been dignitaries or important people of the area or time. But, often they were memorialized in a town square rather than a grave yard. Grave yards were not how we know them today. They were often outside of town because the art of embalming had not been developed and lets face it, a decaying corpse is not something that anyone would want to smell. Today, we not only have embalming, but we have cement vaults to contain our loved ones. They not only help to keep out moisture, bugs and tree roots, but they contain the not so pleasant side of death. We would all like to remember our loved ones for who they were, alive and not think about what's happening beneath the surface of the cemetery plot.

 Early markers were usually simple wooden crosses.
The cross being a symbol of death even before being adopted by Christianity.
Individual stone markers are only about three hundred years old and started in 18th century Colonial America.

18th Century American grave stones depicted images of death or mortality symbols. They were hand carved and could take months or even years to complete a more elaborate stone. Granite was the stone of choice. A  marble stone was easier to carve. Marble however does not hold up as well in the weather. If you find an old marble stone now, it's likely that you won't be able to read it at all. Most of the original stones had a symbol of a skull at the top. These were carved and kept in stock. Then upon death, only the name and dates would have to be chiseled into the stone by hand, speeding up the process.
Here is a sample of the original stones from a grave of a Revolutionary War Veteran in Barnstable Massachusetts. The wings at the side of the skull symbolize the ascension into heaven.

A few years later, people wanted a more pleasing image than the death image of a skull and opted for angels or like this one depicting a willow tree. The weeping willow represents sadness or mourning for the loved one that has passed on to their eternal life.

The idea of individual markers has caught on. You can see them across the globe in every country.
In the future, I'll try to post some of the styles and symbolism's that I've been able to find in my travels. And I'm always on the lookout for interesting epitaphs. Let me know in the comments if you've seen one that caught your attention.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This week's quote

"It is far more powerful to live your Truth than to teach it"


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pugs gets a vacation

Hey guys! This is Pugsley. My Daddies are off at work. So I thought I'd find out what this little thing on the desk is that they are always playing with. I'm not too good with words or typing so I'll tell you all about my vacation with the pictures that I had my daddies take for me.

This is the camper that they rented for me at our first campsite right on the beach!

At first I chose this bed. Until I realized that the Daddies were on the other bed.

Daddy Stew is my favorite. We do everything together.

We went hiking. The daddies were too slow.

The first night, we got to see a wicked sunset over Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay.

Then we went to Lake Michigan and I climbed sand dunes faster than anyone.
I have four paw drive, ya know.

Daddy said we are going to see a light house!
That's a long walk!

We made it! Now what?

Oh! We have to walk back? Let's take a different route.

Where did the trail go?
At least we found some snacks on the trail.

There was a little hut for us to stop at in the mountains.

And an interdunal pond to cool my tired paws.

That night we saw another sunset! This one over Lake Michigan.

I love my Daddy Eddy too!

I love the wind from the lake in my hair.

More Hiking?! This time in the mountains!
Kewl lake from up here.

I swear, that tree was following us.

This is my new friend.
At least she didn't run away like the squirrels and chipmunks did.

Finally! Home! I slept for a whole day after all the walking.