Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quintessentially Quilly

All of you who know Quilly know she is a person of strong passions and has a HUGE depth of love in her heart. She's also ferociously harder on herself than anyone else could ever be ... and that plays into this story.

I won a guessing contest on her blog in December, and the prize didn't come. But I had received a nice prize from her for the 12 days of Christmas contest she did with Thom so I thought perhaps things had gotten mixed up -- or I had (entirely possible in my life). After all, it was the holiday season.

I wrote a note to thank her for the book in the 12 days packet, and said the bangles had been lost in the mail (in case she had a tracking number), but it was no big deal; I just appreciated her friendship. She e-mailed me immediately and apologized profusely. In the big clean-up for the party they had (see her blog), they'd been tucked away.

So yesterday evening in the cold and dark, we picked up the mail at the top of the driveway and inside was a package containing the bangles and other goodies!  A book (Caroline's Choice) and some Avon samples which my daughter (who is very upset with what the dryness is doing to her hair) immediately grabbed.

Trust Quilly  to be above and beyond making things right.  The moral of the story is:

1.  VISIT her blog!
2.  PLAY her contests

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bake Away Your Troubles

We don't really have any troubles, but I thought that was a catchy title.  We did have some over-ripe bananas though, and I'm SO TIRED of the traditional banana bread recipe, I searched in my cabinet to see what else I could put in with them.

Eureka!  Dates that were purchased for fruitcake cookies but that didn't end up being used!  Then I googled recipes to find one that sounded good.

Eating Out Loud is a blog I visit on occasion, and this time, I found exactly what I needed.  Allen had a recipe from back in November in which he showed the same traits I inflict upon my family, i.e. impatience (quick breads) and making use of forgotten and neglected foodstuffs (black bananas and left over dates).  By the way, the main recipe today looks intriguing as well!  The banana bread recipe is HERE

And here's a photo of my result.  The guys had just gotten back from the gym and were VERY HAPPY to be guinea pigs!  It is truly delicious.  I will say that it took my bread about another 30 minutes to bake through, rather than the 1 hour Allen advises.  Do you have a favorite recipe for leftover bananas? Please share!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Out for 24

We've just had our power restored after a nasty winter storm. It went out about 8:30 pm yesterday and came on again today about 7:30 pm.  I praise God for the people at Dominion Power who have been working in some pretty tough conditions to get the power back on.

The snow was wet, heavy and icy and a tree came down across our driveway. My son got out there this morning to cut it up (with a hand saw) so we could then shovel the driveway and then go to Bethesda for an appointment for him. Fortunately, we called before we got on the highway and found out his doctor wasn't going to make it in. So we went to the bagel shop and stocked up on those and coffee.

Now this photo doesn't look that dramatic.  However, the kid cutting that tree is nearly 6 feet tall (he's bent over the tree here). A little perspective, yes?

I'm proud of both of my kids for keeping a good attitude and helping wherever asked. My son and his friends had a great time shoveling my neighbor's driveway. They played and behaved like kids did before they all went heads down with hand-held devices.

Last night, with a camping lantern (batteries, not kerosene), the four of us played cards and then listened to an old radio presentation of Gunsmoke (yes, it was on an iPod, but hey, we listened in the dark).  We spent the night in our basement in one room with pillows and blankets, and were quite warm. It's completely in ground so it held at about 65 degrees. I actually threw off blankets at one point.

So, no school Wednesday, Thursday, and they've already cancelled for tomorrow. And Monday and Tuesday are off days for end of quarter grading -- although they've told us they've extended the quarter to the end of next week now. Lots of extra time to study - but do you think anyone will?

So in sum, for Thankful Thursday, I'm thankful for:
a.  God
b.  My family
c.  Our dear friends who took us in this evening for dinner (remember that soup? It was great shared with them over at their house!)
d.  Electricity
e.  Heat
f.  Health

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Am I Making?

It's an icy/snowy day. School was cancelled because the early time frame was treacherous, and it will start up again around 4 leading to 4-6 inches overnight.  So . . . no school tomorrow, I'm sure. In between the treacherous morning and what's heading our way, the roads were perfectly passable so the kids went to the gym with me, and then we stopped by the grocery store.  Why does one buy so much more when the kids are along?  I even sent them to a different part of the store, and they weren't asking for anything anyway.  I just felt more inspired, I guess.

SO . . . when I got home, I assembled the following ingredients. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to look at them and tell me what I'm making. The only thing that goes in that isn't in the photo is the water.

I also have carnitas-in-the-making in the crockpot, and will probably bake some cookies.  Yum.  I love snow days.

and here's the after photo.  I like to let it cool, chill it in my outside refrigerator overnight (it's colder out there than in my fridge -- and there's more room), then add some water tomorrow and serve. By then the spicy sausage flavor will have really "mmmm'd" in.

Dana from Bug's Eye View was right -- it's Lentil Soup
And you should go read her poetry.
It's good.
And here's the recipe:

Lentil Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano 
2 bay leaves
2 cups lentils
4 cups water
4 cups bouillon
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup spicy sausage (or mild if you prefer)
salt & pepper

Heat the oil, saute the onion, celery and carrots until the onion is soft.  Add the garlic, basil, oregano. Let it cook together for 2 minutes.  Add the bay leaves, lentils, water, bouillon, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour.

Add vinegar and sausage, adjust seasonings, and serve.

OR, cover it tightly, put it in your garage or carport, and let it sit overnight. When you heat it tomorrow, throw in the last bit of a chunk of parmesan you've been saving for just this occasion.  Serve steaming hot with hot beer bread that you're going to make with that cheap beer someone left at your house from the last party.


If you have a variation of lentil soup that you enjoy, feel free to share! Or e-mail me at southlakesmom at yahoo dot com.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Microfiction Monday

Finally got my act back together to play.  Susan at Stony River is the brilliance behind this meme. She gives us a photo or illustration, and we respond the following week with 140 characters (including all spaces and punctuation) that tell a story.

This week's illustration:

My Story:

“But it’s cold and wet,” he whined to his mom.

“Superheroes don’t skip rainy days, Aquaman,” she said from under her umbrella.


Dinner Disaster

I had a recipe I'd been saving for a while, waiting to get all the ingredients in the house at one time, and to have the time to put it together. But once that was all lined-up, it was going in the Crock Pot so it would be no fuss, no bother.

And unfortunately, no taste.  I'm not going to post the recipe because it was pretty terrible and I don't want to inflict that on you, but I'll tell you some of the ingredients.

Pork pieces, cut for stew
Sweet Potatoes, cut for stew
Ro-Tel Tomatoes & Peppers

So far, it has things my family likes.  There were other ingredients as well. It said to cook for 7 hours. By the time that happened, the flavor was GONE from the pork, and the vegetables were MUSH.

We ate it, since there wasn't another option yesterday evening, but I apologized to my family and said "I won't even TRY to tweak this one. It is BANISHED." The look of gratitude in their eyes was wonderful to behold.

This is why I hate crockpot cooking. It is too easy to turn things to mush, and cook all the flavor out. Ick.

It does make good hot cocoa though.

So what do you do when a recipe turns out to be a mistake?  
(Remember, we don't have a dog)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Amazing Art

God is so creative and colorful. And very indulgent. My evidence is that not only did He create this beautiful Conure, but He enabled me to figure out the zoom on my iPhone camera so I could share it with you. I think this guy would enable me to play every color-themed meme in the blogosphere!  Right after I took the photo, he raised his head for a moment, looked around sleepily and tucked it back in.  Imagine those head feathers sticking straight up -- like bed head on a 9th grade boy.  Yep, that's exactly what he looked like.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shades of Blue

I went to the National Naval Medical Center today (soon to be called Walter Reed National Capital Medical Center at Bethesda - whew!) for a check-up. Despite all the construction in the area as they combine the two services' hospitals, it was really easy to get around. The new building is beautiful - no really, it is beautiful.

They haven't gotten around to putting up the "No Smoking Within 50 feet of entrance" signs yet, so there was a guy in the area between the parking garage and front door who was smoking a pipe. It wasn't too bad as I walked by, but I'd imagine PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is going to have something to say about it. That's the area where these residents hang out.  They do look rather healthy, but I didn't see any wetlands anywhere nearby.

When I was stuck in construction traffic there was a car in front of me that had a bumper sticker that said, "My daddy fights for our freedom." I like that.  The car was maroon (of course) and had USMC all over it. Hoo-wah.  I took a photo but I can't figure out how to make the iPhone zoom, so you can't really read it.

And finally, there were all these young men walking around wearing blue camouflage uniforms. Now, I understand that the Navy wants its own COLOR uniforms, but just exactly what will they blend in with? The ocean if they fall in?

Sigh.  The Air Force tiger stripes aren't much better. When I was active duty and we wore BDU's (only during exercises), they were the kind that we could blend into the trees wearing. There was a point to the camouflage.

Ah least there's a nice facility with nice folks working there, serving our active duty and retired military members. I'm grateful.  To those of you who pay taxes and have never served, thank you for helping underwrite that. To those of you who pay taxes AND have served in the military, you've earned every bit of those benefits. And I thank you, too!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is It Just Me?

There's been a bit of controversy over the memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Much of it has been over the fact that a sculptor from China was selected for the honor of doing the work. In our area, as the memorial has been coming to fruition, there has been more controversy because most of the workers on it were brought from China, have been living in near sweat-shop conditions, and the project has meant very few local jobs in a city with high unemployment, especially among African-Americans.

But the Black-Chinese thing doesn't get me all uptight as much as looking at the actual memorial.  Have you seen a photo?

What does the body language of this sculpture say?  Crossed arms are a sign of

  • Defensiveness
  • Closed minded
  • Confrontation
My mental image of Dr. King is one of open arms, joy in dialogue, love in his every gesture.

If you go to Google Images and put in his name, you'll see MANY, MANY photos -- and maybe only one in this position. In fact, his photos are some of the least confrontational in body language that you'll see in a collection of a 20th century leader.

Is it just me?

Our First Snow Day

Unfortunately, it's an ice day.  I was pleased that they cancelled school because I was going to be taking my son to see his allergist in Bethesda and this way he wouldn't miss school.  But even at 9am (when we would have had to leave), the roads were still icy.  I called the clinic to reschedule and they cancelled the appointment and said they'd have to call me back for reschedule -- the staff that does that hadn't made it in yet.  YIKES!

So, we're staying home and warm and safe and being grateful for this extra bit of time to do things we don't get around to on school days. . . like sleep.

and laundry.

and clearing up the filing stacked up behind my desk.

Okay, so maybe I'll skip the filing. I have a boatload of family photos to separate into their respective bins. I'll do that instead!

I hope that wherever you are you are safe, warm, and your tummy is full.

Here's a recipe for cold weather comfort food:

Crockpot Cocoa

3 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder (use Carnation)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup flavored powdered nondairy creamer (I used French Vanilla, you can also try Irish cream)
8-10 cups water

Combine all ingredients except water in 3-4 quart crockpot.  Stirring with a wire whisk, gradually add the water until the mixture is smooth.  Cover and let it cook on low for 3-4 hours.  Whisk again before serving. Marshmallows are a must, or serve with a dollop of whipped cream!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Skating To A New Beginning

This story is in response to Quilly's Assignment #1 -- she will do this every month.  She'll give us a prompt, and we write and publish on the 15th of each month.  Of course, I almost blew it today because I didn't realize today was the 15th.  Sigh.  At any rate, join us!

The prompt:

You received a set of clunky, old-fashioned roller skates from the oldest, most eccentric member of your family. The skates appear to be too small, so you try to return them. S/he insists you try them on. You decide to humor him/her. To your amazement the skates fit. Suddenly you are overcome with the urge to skate and … (tell us what happens next in 500 words or less).

I stretch out to enjoy the rhythm of the skates. I’m not paying much attention to my new surroundings as my muscles try to remember how to stay balanced and moving forward. When I finally take in the view, I’m nearing some children playing in the dust at the end of the walk. I slow to a crawl and then to a stop.

The children are shooting marbles in a circle. All of them are covered with the dust of the empty lot they play in. They are speaking some language I don’t understand, but they appear to be Indians.

 “Excuse me, can any of you tell me where I am?”

The oldest girl looks me in the face. Her eyes widen and she jumps up. She exclaims, “You have the nahinge on your face.” The smaller children gather around the oldest Indian girl, whispering to her fiercely.

My hand flies to my face to cover the birthmark I normally keep hidden by makeup. It’s a port-wine stain and it covers most of the space between my left eye and down to my chin. Since I’ve been living with my sister and her family, I haven’t been covering it. I was in such a hurry to skate this morning I completely forgot.
I feel the hot sting of tears. The humiliation of all of the teasing I endured back in Tennessee comes rushing back.  I push away from the children and start down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. But because of the tears I can’t see clearly and stumble over a protrusion in the sidewalk. The next thing I know I’m on my hands and knees, sobbing.

Suddenly a strong arm reaches down to lifts me to my feet. Still embarrassed, I don’t want to look up. More importantly, I don’t want the nice-smelling man attached to the arm to see my face.

“Are you alright, miss?” a kind voice inquires.

“Yes, thank you,” I answer.

“I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you. I’m Benson Wilson,” he says.

I am forced by good manners to look him in the eye.  I am overwhelmed with the kindness and beauty in the face of this Indian man.

“I’m Lara Williams.  I’m sorry if I frightened the children.”

“You didn’t frighten them. In our culture, the mark you have on your face is known as a sign of God’s special favor. They were afraid they offended you. We would like to make it up to you by offering you lemonade at my mother’s home.”

“That would be nice. Are all these children yours?”

His laugh is full of joy, his dark eyes dancing and his gleaming smile wide, “No, they are my nieces and nephews. I am not yet married.”

I relax and smile back. Suddenly I realize that the new start I had hoped for in Indian Territory is beginning right now.

NOTE: The people in this story are real -- distant relatives, although I've changed the names.  The young woman really was sent to Oklahoma to live with her sister's family, hoping that the shortage of white women out there would help her find a husband. Instead, she fell in love with an American Indian. They married, but never had children. Her family, other than her sister and brother-in-law, never received her again.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

A Friends of the Library Mystery

“Anthony,” began Celia, “please don’t do this. Everything you’ve studied about medicine tells you that these words you are saying are a lie. You know, deep in your heart, that underneath the skin, we are all made of the same blood, bone and sinews.”
As she spoke Celia stepped in front of László and Emajean, trying to form a protective shield. One of the men stepped up and grabbed her by the arm and flung her to the ground. He raised his club to strike László , who had knelt to help Celia back up. Celia saw the club descending towards László ’s unprotected temple, pushed up from the ground and over to the man, ramming into him with all her might. As László fell back on his heels, Celia’s head moved into the downward path of the club. It landed with all of the man’s force upon her occipital bone, crushing it inward, driving the pieces into her brain.
“Celia!” screamed Emajean and dropped to the ground, trying to revive her friend. The two men with clubs took off running out of the quad. László examined Celia and then pulled Emajean into his arms. “It’s no use,” he whispered. “She’s gone.”
Suddenly Anthony Harper was on the ground with them, cradling the lifeless body in his arms. “You were right, Celia. I didn’t listen. But you were right.” Tears ran down his face as he raised it to László and Emajean. “You need to call the police. I am responsible for this.”
László shook his head. “No, Dr. Harper. I have never agreed with you regarding your politics and your views on the races, but I have always admired your skill as a doctor. If you take responsibility for this, you will never practice medicine. It is better for you to use your skill to do good, to promote life. Otherwise, Celia’s death is in vain.”
Anthony Harper looked at Emajean. “Do you agree to cover this up? To give me a chance?” he whispered.
She nodded affirmatively, and then buried her head in László’s shoulder and sobbed. László held her for a moment and then said, “We must agree what has happened here. Two ruffians from town approached us trying to take our money. When Anthony and I tried to defend the ladies, one pulled out a club, but in trying to hit me, hit Celia instead. We are doctors. No one will question this story.
Now go call the authorities, Anthony. Save your outrage at yourself and pour it into your story so it will be convincing!”
Anthony ran towards the Administration building yelling, “Help! Please! Someone, help!”

Celia’s senses returned slowly. A low hum of machinery and that antiseptic smell of hospitals was distressingly familiar. As she peered in the low lighting at the monitors and listened to the buzzes and beeps, she became aware that she although she was again in a hospital setting, it was at least a 21st century hospital setting. She began to hope that she was back in her own time.
The door to the room opened and her dear Rob came in. When he saw her eyes open he hurried to her side. “Celia?” he asked. “Are you back with us?”
Celia’s eyes filled with tears as she smiled and whispered, “I’m here. What happened?”
Rob answered, “The elevator at the library didn’t stop properly at the doorway so when you stepped out you fell. You hit your head and passed out. They brought you here by ambulance and we’ve been waiting for you to wake up.”
Celia asked, “How long have I been out?”
He smiled, “about three hours, but boy am I relieved to see you awake again. You had us worried! I’ll go find the doctor so we can talk about taking you home.”
Celia relaxed and began to smile. She was back! She wasn't stuck in 1933 anymore!

Celia was restless. She had been home from the hospital for three days, and had been unable to concentrate. The dream, if that was what it had been, had been so vivid, so lifelike. She had known Emajean and cared about her and László. She felt bereft of that relationship she and the girl from the 1930’s had shared.
After the kids had gone to school and Rob had gone to work, she sat down in her home office comfy chair.
“Emajean,” she said to herself as she lifted the 1933 Loyolan from her bag. Turning to the page with the graduation photo of the young woman, she teared up. “My friend,” she whispered, tracing the photo with her finger. She held the book by its covers and shook it, pages down, to see if there were any more secrets for it to yield. For the first time since the Annual had come into her possession, there were no photos falling out.
She thumbed through the photos that had fallen out before. This time, each one of them had names on them. There were photos of Emajean with some of the other nurses Celia had met. The young man was indeed Walter as the young girl was Frances. When Celia turned the baby's photo over it said "Celia."
Celia turned on the computer and called up her file on Emjean. Rob had been sweet enough to give her a year’s subscription to Ancestry so she wouldn’t have to go back to the library with the broken elevator. She smiled as she logged in, and went to the tree she had started for Emajean.
Suddenly she sat up straight. Something was wrong. After 1930 the file was empty. Emajean Murphy was gone! There were no City Directories and no further entries.
With butterflies in her stomach she tried searching “Emajean Timar” and there, in the Chicago city records for 1935, she saw entries that said:

Husband: Laszlo Timar: Birthplace: Hungary; Occupation: Physician
Wife: Emajean Timar: Birthplace: Michigan; Occupation: Housewife
Mother: Anna Timar; Birthplace: Hungary
Child: Celia Timar; Birthplace: Illinois, 1934

And when Celia saw who was living next door, she laughed out loud.

Husband: Teodor Timar: Birthplace: Hungary; Occupation: Salesman
Wife: Hulda Timar: Birthplace: Hungary; Occupation: Nurse


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

SO Confused!

Today is Wednesday. That means after getting the kids to school I go to my Community Bible Study class. Except that we had snow last night, and a 2 hour delay today, which means our class is canceled.

Which leaves me confused. Should I do laundry, go to the gym, sit around and read? What should I do with this time? I guess I could get really motivated and do something radical like get out the sewing machine. I have an idea for my dining room I want to pursue. But then I need to go purchase some fabric, and by the time I get back, it will be almost time for them to come home.

So...I guess I'll spend some time on the first lesson for next week, prayer, and then to the gym. Not the most exciting agenda, but it beats cleaning bathrooms and doing laundry hands down.

Oh -- this morning I saw a fox trot across our driveway. It was about 7:30 am, in bright sunshine. He looked very healthy, rich red with a bushy tail. No, of course I didn't have my camera. I read an article saying you shouldn't leave your camera and cell phone and purse and laptop in your kitchen at night because that's where burglars look first. Of course, that's where the big picture window is.

But, I did get a photo of his pawprints in the snow.  They're so pretty! I love how God reveals Himself to us in so many ways through nature.

Monday, January 10, 2011

No Microfiction for Me Today

I know, it only takes a moment to do, at 140 characters or fewer. But I don't want to play if I can't visit others, and I have very little time for that today. I'm in Minute 2 of my 10 minute break between making the phone calls for Community Bible Study and my weekly discipling call from Georgia.

I did, however, go to the gym this morning, so I'm tired but slightly virtuous. And not having showered yet, slightly aromatic. Good thing it's only SKYPE and not smell-o-vision. Ha ha

See you all next week, hopefully.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Decorationally Challenged

This is really sad.  I got a new iPhone for Christmas and these are the first photos I've taken for the blog with it.

They are obviously a desperate cry for help.

We need to re-do our kids' bathroom.  But it's a kids' bathroom. Teens use it. Which means the decor needs to be durable and easy to hide clutter.

The bathroom size is pretty large, but the partial wall that separates the toilet/bath area from the sink area contains a heating duct - so can't take it out.  It has the only bathtub in the house, so we'd like to keep that part. If we can get it done nicely enough, we can actually let guests use it instead of the one downstairs that is tiny and REALLY dark.

Just to make sure you know -- we inherited this lovely color scheme. Green counter. Yellow, brown, & white tile on floor. Yellow tile on wall. Can you see why we're paralyzed with indecision?  ANYTHING would be better than this, but where to start?

So, what do you think?  I'll post a drawing later that shows it better.  The photos are the actual thing. Yep, 70's tile on the floor and the yellow wall  Clear shower curtain because of lack of light.  By the way, I'd LOVE to put a skylight in above this room.  Wonder what that would entail...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

A Friends of the Library Mystery

Chapter XIV
            The two women arrived in New York in 1933 by way of Bremen, Germany after a long ocean trip. Teodor was at the dock to meet them, and shepherded them to the train station where they would begin the long train ride to Chicago.  During the trip Teodor was excruciatingly correct with both women as he audaciously pursued every unaccompanied woman under the age of 30 on the train. By the time they reached Chicago, Hulda and Anna were both convinced that he was a playboy and would not be suitable for Hulda at all.
            To all of Anna’s questions about László’s romantic life Teodor was noncommittal. He did not want to deal with the emotion that he feared would ensue if Anna knew that her son was in love with an Irish girl. He spoke instead about the World’s Fair Expo that was going on in Chicago that year. He promised to take them to see the sights once they were settled in the city. The trip was only a week long, but by the time they reached the outskirts of Chicago Teodor felt that he’d done penance enough for not wanting to marry Hulda.
            When the morning finally dawned that would finish their journey, Anna anxiously peered out of the windows, searching for her son. Suddenly she saw him and tears filled her eyes. “I must get out!” she said to Teodor.
“In a minute, Anna!” he exclaimed.
“No! I must get out right now! That is my son I must see!”
The porter came by and offered assistance. “Mister, I think you’d better give in to her. Looks like she’ll go right through that window!”
Teodor turned to look at Anna. She had suddenly stopped her frantic noise and was standing with her hands over her mouth and her eyes wide. Teodor leaned over to see what had caught her attention. He saw László there, and on his arm was a pretty Irish girl.
Teodor turned his head and spoke quietly and urgently to his sister-in-law. “Anna,” he said, “in America, boys and girls often marry people not from their own home country. They call this country the melting pot. If you do not act happy to see her, you will hurt your son and you will start your new life in America off on the very wrong foot.”
Anna narrowed her eyes at him, squared her shoulders, summoned her dignity, and said tightly, “Teodor! If my László thinks that he is going to marry an Irish girl, he is not the smartest of the Tímár men as we have always thought. It appears that I arrived here just in time.” Barely looking to the side Anna directed Hulda to join her, and they went to the door to exit the train.
Celia returned to dormitory that evening to find Emajean sobbing on her bed.
“Emajean,” she said softly. “What on earth is the matter?”
“László and I cannot marry. His mother hates me because I’m not Hungarian. Oh Celia, I can’t make him choose between his mother and me. It would be wrong,” Emajean choked out.
“Whoa, back up there. What happened?” Celia asked.
“His mother got off the train, approached him, and received his kiss. He said something to her in Hungarian, and gestured to me as if he was introducing me. She said something back, turned around, and went back toward the train. I’m not stupid. She was telling him that she was going back to Hungary.
He followed her, pleading with her, I guess. I left the platform and went into the station to wait. Teodor came to find me and asked me to meet László later this evening at our usual place. I think it is so he can say good-bye,” Emajean finished. “Will you go with me?”
Celia nodded, almost in tears herself. This wasn’t the way things were supposed to work out. All great stories ended up happily ever after. But remembering the census record, Celia had a feeling that what Emajean feared was about to come true.
They left the dormitory a little while later, with a soft evening breeze accompanying them while they walked to the willow tree. Emajean slowed as they neared the place. As on the previous evening, László was waiting in the long, flowing limbs of the tree.
            “Emajean,” he called softly. The caress of his voice on the syllables of her name made her catch her breath. He held out his arms.
“László!” she exclaimed, “do you still want to marry me?”
He buried his head in the softness of her freshly washed hair and inhaled deeply. “Yes,” he said roughly. “My mother just needs some time.”
Emajean almost sobbed in relief. Their lips met and they kissed deeply. She stepped back to look into his eyes to see her joy reflected there.
Her elation was momentary though. Out of the darkness they heard a voice call to them, “Are you really so stupid? Do you really think we would allow a dirty Hungarian to marry one of our girls?”
They all recognized the voice of Anthony Harper as he stepped into the light with two other men. Those men held clubs in their hands and were tapping them menacingly.

And next week, the finale.  I promise!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How Do You Do This?

We know an elderly woman who is probably not safe in her own home anymore. She has stacks and stacks of magazines, newspapers (still gets 2 dailies), catalogs (OMG the number of catalogs is frightening), and other detritus. Every gift she receives, every book she reads, every DVD she watches -- it all stacks up.  She refuses to have anyone come in and clean or pick things up (even family members), so there are little walkways in between piles of debris. She steadies herself by touching piles of stuff as she goes by. You can see them wobble as she does. Sometimes they fall and the slick catalogs are now on the floor.

She cannot physically do the clean-up herself, but becomes anxious beyond belief if anyone tries to help her with any of it.

Her physical strength is so low that she can barely climb the steps to her front door.

Yet, this woman is of sound mind and absolutely resists any help offered or suggestions made.

In the old days, it would have never gotten to this point. Someone, usually a family member, would have moved in or moved her in with them, and managed the situation. For years, this woman has been physically unable to shift the things that need to be disposed of -- and now it's overwhelming for anyone. She's not a hoarder; she just can't manage the stuff.

Also in the old days people used to have "interventions" for alcohol abuse. I wonder whether there's such a thing for elderly people who have allowed a situation to deterioriate to this point.

So what does one do in this situation?  Just stand by and wait for the 911 call? Have any of you dealt with this with an elderly person? How did you handle it?

Muffed Target is Back

Now come on, you KNOW you have photos that you screwed up and should have deleted already but didn't. So your procrastination is giving you a BLOG opportunity!

Thom, at Thom's Place 4 Well Whatever, hosts a meme where you get to post your errors! cough cough, not THOSE errors!  Your photo errors!

So ante up!  There are no prizes involved, just an opportunity to learn a little humility!

Another Christmas photo.

It's a skirt. For a 10 year old.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Taking Things Down

We didn't do a LOT of Christmas decorating this year because we were going away for the event. But we did get out all of my Christmas Creches, and about half of the decorations for the tree.

We'll leave them up until next Sunday as next Saturday my husband's family will come over for dessert and gifts. They're the family that lives locally and since we went away, we missed the celebration at their home.

Even with the traveling and being in someone else's home, this was the most peaceful and stress-free Christmas I've enjoyed in the last 16 years. Hmm...

At any rate, on Sunday when we put things away I will inevitably ask the question about some things, "Do we still need THIS?" It might be a hand-made decoration that is falling apart. It might be an item that seemed very "of the season" at the time but now just looks tacky.

Remember, I'm ruthless in getting rid of clutter. If my family didn't stop me I'd probably be down to near-bare walls. I'm particularly aggrieved at this moment because an alarm keeps going off in my son's room (who is in school).  I went in there to find it and turn it off. After much searching, I did find it, but the much searching was due to the HUGE MESS.  And then I couldn't figure out how to turn off the alarm. I could only get it to snooze . . . which means for the rest of the afternoon, I will periodically hear the beeps.  Argh. And we've only been back in town since Thursday night!

So, what do you think? How do you decide when ornaments or decorations are past their prime? What's a good standard to use?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Microfiction Monday

Susan at Stony River gives us a challenge each Monday to stare at an illustration she has provided and then come up with a story in 140 characters or fewer. That 140 includes all punctuation and spaces. Challenging, yes, but fun. And you meet the nicest people playing!

So here's the illustration:

And my entry for the week is lame, but my brain is still on Mountain Time (at least that's my excuse):

Before Juan Valdez picked coffee, 
he cross sectioned rare trees, 
coated them with grease, 
and sold them to stupid Yanquis as ART.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A FUN new meme

My friend Quilly writes:

Your Writing Assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to write a complete story in 500 words or less using the scenario below to kick-start your thinking. Publish your story on your blog January 15th, then come back here and link it to my January 15th story.
I have twelve writing assignments ready, one for the first day of every month. Every month! The stories are due on the 15th, even in April! (For anyone feeling skeptical, my January story is already written, and I won’t post a prompt I don’t already have a story for.)
You received a set of clunky, old-fashioned roller skates from the oldest, most eccentric member of your family. The skates appear to be too small, so you try to return them. S/he insists you try them on. You decide to humor him/her. To your amazement the skates fit. Suddenly you are overcome with the urge to skate and … (tell us what happens next in 500 words or less).

So. see you the 15th!  In the meantime . . .