We saw our first snowfall of the season on Thanksgiving.Just a dusting really, but the flakes were billowing down nicely as I looked out my dining room windows.My turkey was in the oven and all the other goodies were ready in various stages of preparation waiting in the assembly line.A nice cup of coffee sounded good while I was waiting for my son, Joe, and daughter, Jenna to arrive.
Before I could actually pour the hot water into my cup…in walks Jen with her yummy chocolate mousse pie in hand…..followed by Joe.
“Hey mom, with this kind of weather starting, I thought I’d give you your Christmas present early,” said Joe. (We used to give presents to everyone in the family; but the last few years we’ve picked names and just gotten something really nice for that person.Of course this doesn’t include Bella and Bastian….who get things from everyone….and make out like bandits.)
Anyway, as I’m ‘oh so gently’ being nudged toward the front door by Jenna, she says, “He’s got it outside Mom, go look at it.”
As she throws her coat over me….I’m thinking ‘what in the heck could he have outside that he would get me for Christmas?’Then, it hit me…..a snow blower.We’ve always kidded about having a snow blower when we get those huge blizzardy Midwestern snowfalls.Me out there with my shovel making my little path to the car….and Joe doing the rest when he comes over.
I say to Jen….”Did he get me a snow blower?”
Not much reaction from her, but she says something like….”Come on Mom, go out and look at it.”
My mind is already thinking….’oh cripes, I’ll need to find room in my already stuffed garage; and how hard will this be to operate, etc. etc. etc.’
So the three of us are walking down the front walk, and I’m looking to see where the snow blower is.I can’t for the life of me see it anywhere.I thought it must be behind this huge bush we have at the end of the walk.
Joe’s looking pretty pleased with himself at this point.“Where’s the snow blower guys?”I say.
Joe hands me something that looks like a remote key ring….but not really; there’s no actual key on it.I’m thinking, ‘okay this starts the snow blower somehow.’
I’m still not getting it…is it me?
The whole time….not more than 30 feet away from us….right in front of my house, is this cool blue car….a Toyota Prius…a hybrid.And STILL….it’s not registering with me.It isn’t uncommon for other people to park their cars in front of my house….happens all the time.And as I glanced at it originally while looking for MY snow blower, I thought…’what a cool little car.’
Looking WAY too smug now….Jenna and Joe are about ready to fall on the ground waiting for the light bulb to go off over my head.When it actually hit me that THAT car was my Christmas present from Joe, I lost any sign of muscular tone I had in my face.My jaw dropped….and it remained there.The look of confusion and astonishment must have made a pretty picture, but thank God no one had a camera.All I could do was stare at the car, look at the kids, stare at the car, and I believe the only thing that came out of my mouth for the next few minutes was, “WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?”Actually that's a good deal more coherent than I imagined I would be.
I couldn’t absorb the moment properly.I was so stunned and caught off guard….one of the few times in my life that I was speechless.The look of bewilderment must have been priceless; and I’m sure I’ll be reliving it through Joe and Jen’s stories for quite some time to come.I do remember stopping the ‘whats’ long enough to look up at Joe with tears in my eyes as I put my arms around him.I wondered if all the hugs in the world could convey to him how I felt about his generosity and love.I’ve always been proud of the generous spirit of all of my kids, but this was more than I could have imagined.Never in a million years did I expect such a present.
When I woke up from the stupor I was in…..I returned to typical ‘mom’ form.
“Honey, what did you do?I don’t want you paying for another car.You just paid off your own car.” (small lecture, to which Joe gave me his own little lecture in return about practicality…yadda, yadda, yadda…..fair enough, I thought)
Apparently it was a done deal that had been in the works for quite some time.All my kids knew about it….even my brother.Joe had picked the car up a couple of days earlier and had it parked in a friend’s garage.I called him on his cell phone those couple of days earlier to invite him to lunch when my brother came in town for the day, and he just happened to be at the dealership picking up the car.He was afraid someone would talk too loudly in the background…and ruin the surprise.Apparently it takes a lot more than something like that to break through my brain bank.I was the perfect unsuspecting schmo.
Honestly, I’m not sure what happened after that!I didn’t get to that cup of coffee for quite some time.Joe showed me the ropes regarding the logistics of the car.....and I drove it around the block a couple of times.SWEET!!!!
After going through more things in the manual and talking about immediate things to be done….insurance, my other car, etc, we had a really wonderful dinner.Even if it hadn’t been, I don’t think anyone would have noticed.
I talked with Julie and Jory during the day, and they were very excited.I could feel their hugs through the phone.I only wish they could have been there in person to be witness to this special moment for me.
What a day!I was very proud that I hadn't stuffed myself into a comatose state….only one helping of everything.We retired to the living room to watch the start of several football games scheduled for the day…. while Jen and I periodically got up to put things away and clean up.I could hear the games from the kitchen….only to be slightly muffled by the exhausted rhythm of Joe’s snoring.This surprise took a LOT out of him.
But you don't think for one minute I was going to wake him, do you? He earned every minute of it.
Dear Joel, We’ve been preparing for the holidays that are suddenly upon us again.I don’t know what happened to the last few months, but we’re also here again at another anniversary that is not a celebration and that none of us look forward to.Have you been able to watch us from where you are?I hate the thought of you missing out on some pretty wonderful moments happening….not so much in my life, but in our kids’ lives.
The kids are doing ‘spectacularly’ well…as you would so often like to say.They all are healthy and happy managing their extremely busy lives.Your head would spin if you tried to keep up with them.Sometimes I have to take notes to really absorb everything.Everyone is working hard and putting in good and earnest days…something you would appreciate and certainly be proud of.If you’ve been watching you’ll have noticed that we have one traveling all over the world right now, one in the middle of several writing projects including a second book, one working out the logistics of going back for her doctorate, and one who has worked long and hard to finally pay off those nagging car and school loans.Aren’t you proud?Me too.
If you’ve been watching, you’ll also have noticed how rapidly our Bella and Bastian are growing up.You barely got a chance to know Bella Joy, and I’m so sorry about that.She is quite a character Grandpa.She reminds many of us of you….smart as a whip and oh so charming with her own unique humor that cracks us all up.I think you and Bella would have had some pretty great conversations.One thing I know….she’d give you a run for your money.
The thing that probably bothers me the most about your absence is that you never got to meet Bastian.OH…..how you’d love this little guy.He’s just too sweet for words and has so much love in him.I could see this little one sitting on your lap as you showed him through the loops and turns of your airplane games on the computer….or the two of you tossing a ball back and forth.He just loves that.Somehow it feels so terribly unfair that neither one of you will be able to experience those moments with each other.
Jen and I were out today getting the final touches for Thanksgiving dinner.We were both a little misty-eyed today thinking of you….just as I am right now.We will miss you at our dinner table, listening to your stories, jokes, and bits of wisdom.Funny how time makes you appreciate those kinds of things more.Had we known you wouldn’t be with us for very long, we might have received them quite differently at the time.We can only hope you have an interested audience ‘up there’ where you are.Not that not having an audience would stop you from speaking your piece; but I’d like to think you had an appreciative ear or two hearing your words.
We’re all going to be at Julie’s this year for Christmas....except for Joe, who has to work.That’s police departments for you.I think we’ve been pretty lucky up until now that he has been able to spend his Christmas holidays with us.But we’ve got him for Thanksgiving, so I’ll be thankful.
We’re all looking forward to being together at Julie’s….just like old times.Julie and Chris, Bella and Bastian, Jory and Jesse, and Jen and me…..and maybe a few surprises we don’t even know about.You’ll be in our thoughts, in our hearts, and in our conversations; so we are definitely expecting to see you.
And just in case you don’t know….and you may be wondering
....we think of you all the time with tears, and laughter, and love.You are greatly missed…… Love,
See this guy?Beautiful isn’t he?Much more beautiful than his ‘plain Jane’ counterpart, the poor, 'not-so-proud' peahen.How did that happen?I’ve always thought the ladies of the species definitely got the short end of the stick....or the feather in this case.How do you combat having to watch this guy sashay around….getting all the attention and accolades.Geesh, a girl doesn’t have a chance.
But I have to give-it-up to him.I LOVE HIS PLUMAGE!I owe the beautiful vase of peacock feathers in my living room to him.
The male peacock has about 150 of those long “eyed” tail feathers that we all have come to know and love. These feathers that grow to be several feet long are shedded annually…and we humans are there to make the most of this valuable crop.What a nice partnership.
Did you know those beautiful blue and green sheens in a peacock feather are due to a phenomena known as interference?Me neither.Each feather consists of tiny flat branches. When light shines on the feather, we see thousands of glimmering colored spots, each caused by minuscule bowl-shaped indentations. This same principle is also responsible for vibrant shimmering colors of butterflies, pheasants, birds of paradise and humming birds.
Do you want to see something really neat?Look at this amazing creature below……
An Albino Peacock
The white color of this albino peacock is due to the missing black melanin pigment. Those usual rich colors of the peacock are seen because black pigment, which absorbs most of the incident light, allows us to see only the interference colors.In this peacock, the interference is still happening, but the effect is entirely washed out by the abundance of white light….and the "eyes" of the tail feathers are clear, not colored.
Well, there’s my little lesson for today.Now go out and shake a little tail feather.
A PARACHUTE'S A BETTER IDEA!!(Click on pictures to enlarge...if you can take it.)
I will never be accused of being a dare devil. I won't even go down in the books as very adventuresome....but THIS?This 'ooges' me out beyond belief.No way, nope, nada. I'm so far removed from finding this enjoyable... even to look at. Funny thing is....I think my son-in-law, Jesse, an avid cyclist, would actually be up for one of these excursions....he might even enjoy it.But he better not tell me if he ever goes on one. I think I can safely say that none of my four children would opt for this as a fun outing. Well, I guess there's somethng to be said for genetics.
What do you think? Are there any of you out there who would enjoy this...now or even in your younger days....and have the guts to admit it?I'd love to hear why.
You would think I'd learn after all of these years of dwindling trick-or-treaters. What in the world am I going to do with so much leftover candy? I've hidden a lot of it away...but not far enough away. When I was still working I used to take all the leftovers to my office and put them in my candy bowl there. For eleven years I was the 'candy lady,' and Halloween just meant a lot more stuff for my bowl....and a lot of happy co-workers.
I had some pretty cute trick-or-treaters this year though. The very first little guy was so cute I could hardly stand it. I still don't know exactly what he was...maybe a chipmunk. He could barely grab the candy with his little mitted hand. His dad helped out very nicely. As I told him how great he looked and to have lots of fun, he looked up at me with these huge brown eyes and said, "You have fun now."Oh my heart.
I had visions of Bella and Bastian all decked out in their costumes doing the very same thing. I could only hope Julie thought to take some pictures sometime during the day. Luckily she did.....
Here is the lovely and beautiful Ariel the Mermaid.....and THE DEVIL.I guessthis was the year of the 'tails.'
Oh Good Lord, and here we thought the Devil always looked something like......
Well, good to know isn't it?
Apparently from all reports....Bella and Bastian had a pretty terrific day. Parties and goodies at school, a trick-or-treating trip to a local hospital and then their neighborhood Halloween haul. Life can be pretty good.
As far as my night....well, I had about 12 kids come to the door of various sizes; all very sweet and polite. After a while I started telling kids to just take handfuls of stuff...whatever they wanted....and still I've got a lot left.
It was a quiet and uneventful Halloween as Halloweens go. But it seems there were a number of goblins out and about. That's actually being kind. Let's call them by what they really are.....vandals.
Apparently, as reported by the police officer that I talked to, there were one or more carloads of kids celebrating the night by bashing in porch lights and car windows....and I happened to be one of the lucky chosen. I woke up the next morning to see both the front and back driver's side windows smashed in. The funny thing is one of the police officers in our town noticed it before me and stopped to tell me about it. He proceded to show me a list of addresses all over the area of people who had the same misfortune.
Apparently that's a 'fun thing' to do for some kids. Drive by in a car and bash people's windows in with a baseball bat. Judging from the list the officer showed me....they were pretty busy 'having fun.' I'll never understand that kind of thinking. Their Halloween 'joyride' cost me several hundred dollars....not to mention the mess everywhere.
It ended my Halloween on a bit of a downer to say the least. I guess the eggs, shaving cream and toilet paper goblins have been replaced, huh? I still love Halloween; and no bat-toting, window-smashing vandals will ever change that.