Don’t Know Much…..Edition IV

I am marking my return to my Diaryofanut blog following a summer long hiatus by republishing a post from this same time last year.  I always, always, always become nostalgic around this time of year as it calls to mind so many treasured and bittersweet memories of life-altering moments from days gone by……today is such a day.  Happy 46th Anniversary Crick!

Don’t Know Much 

Wanting to once again commemorate the wedding anniversary of the union of the DH (dear husband) and TGW (the good wife), I have chosen to re-post this blog from 2013, along with the accompanying video. This year as the anniversary date approached, I realized that I did not have the time to create a new post, nor could I find better words to express the emotion that is always, always, always front and center in my mind and in my heart.  I did, however, happen upon yet another song that speaks to the comfort that my faith provides when sadness intrudes in those still unsuspecting moments and decided to upload some rare photos of just the two of us (we all know how much Crick despised having his picture taken) and have added this short video to the blog.  It does seems as though I have this “need” to continue to add more material with each passing year since Crick has been gone…….if I continue this each year, I may break the Guinness World Records for lengthy anniversary blogs!!!!   You will find the “editions” in the P.P.S. at the end of the post.   

Top row: Jimmy, Joy, Jay, Feller, Johnny Middle Row: Cecilia, Kathy, MM, Crick, Lee Bottom Row: Christine, Tommy
Top row: Jimmy, Joy, Jay, Feller, Johnny
Middle Row: Cecilia, Kathy, MM, Crick, Lee
Bottom Row: Christine, Tommy
Someone apparently told Crick to say "cheese" LOL
Someone apparently told Crick to say “cheese” LOL

Memory can only tell us what we were,
in the company of those we loved;
it cannot help us find what each of us, alone, must now become.
Yet no person is really alone;
those who live no more, echo still within our thoughts and words,
and what they did has become woven into what we are.
~ Jewish prayer 

This week I have been on a bit of a sentimental journey as today is the 42nd anniversary of the day when the “glass half-full” wed the “glass half-empty” and an incredible journey was begun.  I have countless memories of the “good, the bad and the ugly” (which brings to mind the actor, Clint Eastwood…..which brings to mind an empty chair…which brings to mind a certain political convention……but for today, I will stay on topic, so that you may all rest easy!!  LOL).  The little strips of typewritten paper which I inserted above were several of thirty-eight which Crick had attached to thirty-eight roses he had placed throughout the house to be discovered by me when I had returned home work to celebrate our anniversary four years ago.  Without a doubt, this was the single most romantic idea he had ever conceived!!!  As you can see from the “new-found political activism” mention, the year was 2008……the year I became, not just any “nut”, but a ““right-wing nut!!!  And of course, you will notice the words “stubbornness” and “ways you get mad” (I do believe, he just might have been recalling the “King’s Island Main Street incident”!!!………which, I must confess, was unfortunately not an isolated event!).  I am  quite sure that Peggy and Mark will take particular note of the “NOT my fishing and camping partner”, for no matter how awesome Crick tried to make the idea of camping out in a hot, stuffy tent, sleeping all too close to terra firma, among the creepy, crawling insects, the squirrels and raccoons, and those pesky, chirping birds; I have always, always, always preferred the creature comforts of home.  And foremost among those thirty-eight for which Crick was expressing his gratitude, were our children and grandchildren, for whom we both always, always, always agreed were our greatest blessings.

First lease
First lease

As I was looking through some pictures, I came across the lease for our very first apartment which was on North High Street just up the road from St. Michael’s where Crick graduated from grade school.  Along with the lease I also discovered that I had kept  our first checkbook ledger and thought that, as one of  the slips of paper above indicates, I was the family “financier”, I should share how far $400/month salary would take you back in 1970.  I was struck not just by the fact that our rent was only $100/month, but that our very first check was to Columbia Gas for $2.56.  Looking further down the list I took particular note that there was a check written to Ohio State University for $255.00 which was to pay for Crick’s tuition for fall quarter that year!!!  Today, that amount would hardly cover the cost of one book!   I also noticed that a check had been written to Agler-Davidson (a once popular sporting goods store) and now recall that the amount was to cover the cost of some football equipment as Crick and a couple of my brothers had this cockamamie idea that they would join a local semi-pro football league which was being tried out in Columbus.  Crick and Johnny played for the “Blue Angels”……………what? you’ve never heard of them??????  Not surprising, the league went bust shortly thereafter, but what I do remember is that there was this little tiny bit of a………. dare I say………..  “discussion” between the newly wedded, blissful couple about the wisdom of spending money on something so unnecessary as football equipment!!   So now, you all know why I became the “financier”!!  LOL  I just know that Crick is pacing back and forth up there in the heavens telling anyone who will listen to him that he knew this would happen one day………..that my hanging on to letters and incriminating pieces of the past would come back to haunt him.  I still have in my possession, almost three years worth of letters that he wrote to me when he was in the Army……..Fort Knox, Fort Sill, Fort Carson and Korea……….yep, whenever he remembered my box of his letters, he would go on and on about how I should get rid of them because, you know, they were just dust collectors and a lot of ancient history.  Welllllllllllll,  I have always loved history and now one of these days I am just going to have to re-read all of those letters and really tick Crick off!!!!  :)

I actually have been on a mission of sorts the past two days to put together some pictures from forty-two years ago, as my own small way of honoring this day and all of the memories attached to it.  And as I was sorting through the various photos, and a few of the cards that I had kept of anniversaries past, I remembered something.  One year, probably twenty years ago (gosh was 1990 that long ago???), Crick and I had surprisingly presented each other with the very same gift!!  Now this is even more remarkable because we did not always exchange gifts as money was usually tight (due in part to a very stingy financier!!!).  This particular year however, we shockingly presented each other with…………………a cassette (CD’s were just becoming popular, but we obviously were not on the cutting edge of new technology !!!) of  a hit song by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville titled “Don’t Know Much”.  It seemed to touch us both in the same way about how we  each viewed our relationship………and so I listened to it again for the first time in quite a while and realized how perfectly it suited us.  I decided to see if I could put some pictures and the music together in a video format, and this is the result:

TNT

TGW

P.S.  Remember that last wedding picture in the video??  This was a re-enactment forty years later……………………………….you just can’t account for “maturity” LOL!!!

2009-04-22 15.24.48-50

P.P.S.  A few weeks ago, I was driving home from running an errand and I happened to be not too far from Resurrection Cemetery and so, out of the blue, I decided to redirect my homeward destination.  Now, I couldn’t begin to explain the rationale for this sudden change in plans except that there was this inexplicable desire for me to do so.  There is one thing about cemeteries……………..they are very quiet :)…………..and perhaps that is exactly what I unknowingly needed.  Anyway, after spending some time in reflection and prayer at the grave-sites of Crick, my parents and my two brothers, I got back into my car and drove home.  Several hours later, still in somewhat of a rather pensive mood, I was searching in my wallet for an appointment card when I discovered this:

dear husband DH

Call me crazy……………..(and many do!!!!)………..but I have no recollection of ever having placed this pocket-coin in my wallet.  In fact, I can’t even remember purchasing such a coin and the only explanation for me having it would be that I gave it to Crick when he went over to Kosovo with the National Guard in 2004.  Over the course of our marriage, there were few situations which would have triggered the giving of such a sentimental token, except for just such a dire situation as his leaving me and the family for nine long months!!!  (LOL)  However this coin came into my possession remains a curious question……….and it matters not the how I came to find it, but the why.  The mere fact that its appearance came on the very day that I had been in need of feeling Crick’s presence, brought me comfort, not only in that amazing moment, but the sheer memory of that moment, has continued to provide me a sense of peaceful contentment.

And so, on this 44th anniversary of the DH and TGW, I hold onto this thought of Marguerite’s from the book, “The Five People You Meet In Heaven”:

“Lost love is still love.  It just takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t hold their hand, you can’t tousle their hair. But when those senses weaken, another one comes to life. Memory. Memory becomes your partner, you hold it, you dance with it.  Life has to end…………love doesn’t.”

 

 

It’s All About Family….Not Politics

I believe that I have finally figured out why I put off writing my Diaryofanut blog for weeks on end……….I have become addicted!!!!!!!  Yes…….soooo sad and yet so, so, so true.

“I am Mary Margaret, and I am a political junkie!!!!!”

Shocking news, right???  Okay, okay, so you have all known it for quite some time….like since 2008???  I guess I had to get to rock bottom…..realize that the world would go on in spite of my insatiable desire for everyone to live in “the world according to MM”!  If anyone knows of a self-help forum for those in my situation, please email me so that I can get the help that I know all of my family and friends are so hopeful I will seek.  Perhaps once I am rehabilitated, you will find that your in-boxes, Facebook pages and dinner conversations will no longer be filled with political rants, but will be filled instead with news of the latest Bachelor episode or the new, best talent on The Voice or maybe just some silly videos of my grandkids dancing to the tunes of the “whip and nae nae” or “gangham style” :).  Speaking of which:

See????  Be careful what you hope for!!  LOL   Anyway the “aha” moment of my political “addiction” came about when my mind suddenly began screaming to my brain, “for the love of Pete!!! please, please ‘find something for Mary’ to do” and so in order to stop the screaming in my head, I forced myself to refocus on more mundane activities, such as tending to my extremely neglected blog. I therefore proceeded to  open up my laptop and had just logged onto the Diaryofanut blog and had begun to type up a first draft when I received a phone call.  It was an invitation from Jennifer to come over to her house for dinner and to watch some “March Madness”.  As I am never one to pass up a meal that someone else has thought of, shopped for and prepared, I shut down the computer and headed posthaste to Jennifer’s to eat whatever it was that she had put into her “pot of boiling water” and to watch my favorite winter pastime….college basketball.  (You see?….. I actually, at one time, performed a very motherly duty and passed on to my children my most successful cooking secret!).

Speaking of March Madness……….I have just one thing to say about my NCAA bracket………..it will be a very, very cold day in you know where before I ever, ever pick another Big Ten team to reach the Final Four!!!!  I had Kansas and Michigan State in the finals.  Why, oh why, didn’t I use my Mom’s method of selecting winners???  If I had followed her lead and picked all of the Catholic colleges to advance, I would have ended up with at least one team in the Final Four instead of zero!!!  Normally, I would mention what a great ride the Buckeyes had during the season but this year was extremely disheartening to watch.  In fact, I found the “doll” pictured below just after the Buckeye season ended in an NIT loss.  The back of the doll reads:

When your team’s getting creamed and you just want to scream, here’s a “win dammit” doll you just can’t do without.  Just grab it firmly by the legs and find a place to slam it and as you whack the stuffing out yell “win dammit! dammit!!”

If I had only had found it sooner, I could have saved everyone who endured watching the entire OSU season in the same room with me!!).  I have already added the doll to this year’s Christmas wish list!!

Now to explain the other two pictures………..the photo on the bottom left is of Ohio State freshman forward, Mickey Mitchell, who came off the bench in a number of big games late in the season.  Unfortunately, he had a bit of difficulty “hitting the broad side of a barn” while attempting to shoot free throws (I calls ’em as I sees ’em).  The photo on the bottom right is of Adam, my niece Chelsea’s boyfriend.  I spotted a striking resemblance between the two early in the season and decided that it was therefore only fitting that Adam should bear the nickname of “Mickey”.   While we were together for the Clark family gathering over Easter, I made sure to extract a promise from Mickey (Adam) that he would devote extra time over the summer toward working on his “flawed” free throw shooting technique.  You know, like discovering where the hoop and the net are located!!!!  LOL  Mickey (Adam) is really a very good sport about my renaming him.  However, it was just recently announced that three Buckeye freshmen are transferring to other schools, Mickey Mitchell being one of the three.  I am uncertain as to how Mickey (Adam) will take to the news that he has now lost his “star” status with the family “dreamcrusher” (such as it was!!), but I honestly don’t think that he wanted to forevermore be known as the alter-ego to “Mickey, the dismal 12 for 23 free throw shooter”!!  Adam…..if you are reading this…..the albatross around your neck is now officially removed.

osu ticketsI actually have another basketball related story.  My brother, Bobby, had OSU basketball season tickets which were located on the lower level just a few rows up from the court.   Now it just so happened that Bobby also decided, following the end of the regular college football season, to “sponsor” an NCAA football championship bracket.  All of the family were invited to join and Bobby would award prizes of his choosing for the 1st and 2nd place winners.  As I always, always, always complain that I never, ever, ever win anything, and given that in this little family competition I, characteristically, came in dead last…..Bobby, tired of all of my depressing texts, decided to award me with a “booby” prize……two tickets to the OSU/Northwestern game to be held the next month.  Fast forward now to a Tuesday night which found me sitting at home all cozy and warm, enjoying the company of Jennifer, Jim and the kids who had decided to come over for dinner (I can not remember exactly what I put into my “pot of boiling water”, I just know that everyone lived!!!!).  While we were sitting in the living room after dinner discussing the events of the day (you know….political stuff……ba, ha, ha, ha, ha),  Jim suddenly remembered that OSU was playing and so we turned on the TV and began watching the game.  As Bobby, Jo, Christine and I usually text to each other during the Buckeye games, I picked up my phone and texted to see if they were tuned in to the game.  Sure enough, Bobby texted back commenting on the score.  I then texted to see who had his tickets to the game…………..imagine, if you will, my surprise when he texted back, “You do”!!!!  Now, being the oldest in my family, I am not always certain if my younger siblings are just messing around with me and so I texted back, “No seriously, who has your tickets tonight?”.  The reply came back in a flash……”I gave you the tickets at breakfast a few weeks ago, they were your prize for coming in last, don’t you remember?”  Suddenly, that proverbial light bulb clicked on…..oh #$%$@!!!!  Sure enough, I quickly found the two OSU tickets which I had placed safely away so they would not end up getting lost or thrown away!!  Well, chalk one up for the “dingbat” (as Crick would say)!!  OSU did end up beating Northwestern that night, so just maybe the Buckeyes owe me for not jinxing them by attending the game!!

If you have read this far, you might be wondering why it is that it took until the end of April for the March Diaryofanut blog to be published……….well that is because once I finally set aside my political obsession (I mean…..addiction!), the events of April came in rapid fire succession, squeezing out any time for coherent writing.  However, I am offering some pictures of those events in lieu of another thousand plus words, so that I can at long last publish this post and move on to whatever awaits in the “merry, merry month of May”!!

And……guess which photo I choose first?????????!!!!!!! heh, heh, heh

And then there are always, always, always the glorious Nana days!!!!!

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And then along came the celebration of Easter at “104”

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Laughs abound during any Clark or Schultheis gathering, but they are especially hysterical whenever we get together for card night.  “Whatever happens at card night, stays at card night!!”

Thank you to Stephanie and Joe who invited Megan and me to join them for the 1st Garth Brooks concert in Columbus in 19 years!  I guess Stephanie figured that this might just be the last opportunity for me to see him in person.  I mean if he waits 19 more years to tour he will be ??? years old and I will be ????

I absolutely have to add in this picture of the latest craze the grandkids have introduced me to………..”face swapping”!!!  The ways in which our technology has evolved is mind-boggling!!!

And that my friends brings events in the Diaryofanut’s life pretty much up-to-date.  I continue to try to live up to Crick’s “glass half-full” advice to me so many, many years ago to simply “be glad that you are able to put two feet on the floor every morning”.  Admittedly, it has been one long uphill journey, but through the disappointments, the hardships and the losses endured over the past ten years, I understand more fully the wisdom of that one sentence which was forever burned into my memory.  Each day brings unexpected joys and sorrows, I try to take them as they come and, just as this excerpt from Jesus Today entreats its readers, I trustingly place everything in God’s hands.

You are being renewed day by day.  So do not be weighed down by yesterday’s failures and disappointments.  Begin this day anew, seeking to please Me and walk in My ways….focusing on today!  As you do, I am able to transform you little by little.  This is a lifelong process….a journey fraught with problems and pain.  It is also a journey full of Joy and Peace because I am with you each step of the way.

Notice that you are being renewed.  This is not something that you can do by your effort and willpower alone.  My spirit is in charge of your renewal, and He is alive within you…..directing your growth in grace.  Do not be discouraged when you encounter problems and pain along your way.  These are vital parts of the renewal process.  Muster the courage to thank Me when you are going through painful experiences.  Find hope through trusting that I continually hold you by your right hand….and I am preparing you for Glory!

We do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.                   2 Corinthians 4:1

TNT

TGW

 

 

Ramblings and Nonsense

Curious as to how often professional writers stare at a blank computer screen waiting for some…..any…..words of interest to come tumbling out, I did a quick Google search.  (As much as I worry about how much Google knows about my social habits, my religious beliefs, my political leanings….I have to confess that there is hardly a question that a  person can’t have answered through Google!!).  I found a website devoted to “overcoming writer’s block”.  Here is the one sentence that jumped out at me, “There is no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.” What???  Am I not supposed to worry about being interesting enough, entertaining enough, thought-provoking enough????  Reading on, the article further states that sometimes what blocks the mind is taking oneself a bit too seriously, as though something awe-inspiring must be formulated.  The remedy then is that one should let go of that mindset and to simply start jotting down the ramblings and nonsense inside one’s head, and  eventually some idea will catch fire and a pattern will emerge.  Really????  Dare I try, given the vacant state of mind in which I currently find myself?  Perhaps it is my OCD mindset, but over the past two months, as I have entertained the notion of  discontinuing the blog, something keeps nagging at me to continue logging onto Diaryofanut awaiting some sort of miracle inspiration!!!!  Hold on……..I think I feel a tiny burst of those “ramblings and nonsense” that Google promised would catch fire!!

Now let me see………..where was I when I concluded the last entry??  Oh yes, it was my TBT (throwback Thursday) post…..do you see the pattern here??…….I had to resort to posting an old entry because I was  a.) too lazy   b.) too overwhelmed  c.) too “serious”  d.) all of the above!  LOL  Well, if this blog is ever going to get published,  I suppose I should let the “ramblings and nonsense” begin to spill out by recalling the many faceted month of December, and leave it to you, the reader, to circle a.), b.), c.), or d.)!!!!  Shout out to Jennifer…..you will let me know if I am using too many !!!!!/?????/…….?  (hover over or click pictures for captions)

Christmas photo of Carole in shock after she opened her "gag" gift a couple of years ago!
Christmas photo of Carole in shock after she opened her “gag” gift a couple of years ago!

On the first Saturday of December, Tommy and Maria once again hosted the Clark adult gag gift Christmas party which never fails to produce a variety of occasionally useful, mostly hilarious, nonsensical and outrageous gift selections.  As the above photos attest…..this year did not disappoint.  The one “white elephant” gift that seems to keep on giving is the gift that has been making the rounds the past ten years or so.  When the “gift” was first opened years ago, we all broke out into hysterical laughter…….all that is, except for our “make it a good one” (this is how she would suggest to us that her evening “cocktail” be made) Aunt Evie!!  She was scandalized by our behavior as we all tried desperately to not be the holder of the “gift” at the end of the game.  You see this Olan Mills photo of our family…..all thirteen of us…..taken in the late 70’s is the one and only picture that I know exists of me sporting a curly-haired perm (gag!!!!).  Truth be told, most of us resembled the cast of the Brady Bunch, or the Partridge Family or maybe Eight Is Enough, wouldn’t you agree?  Anyway, Aunt Evie (God rest her soul) thought that it was a beautiful photo and was mortified by our good-natured mocking of the picture.  To make things even more interesting was the stipulation that the holder of the gift at the end of the game had to promise to hang it in a prominent place in their home the entire next year.  Cousin Jan was the gracious recipient last year and given her childhood dream to declare herself to be a member of the Clark family household (where there was never a dull moment), she chose to commemorate this childhood desire of hers by cutting out a picture of herself and inserting it right onto the family photo!!!  Ha, ha, ha!  Aunt Evie…..I hope this year you were laughing right along with us :).

The very next day it was the Schultheis’ turn to celebrate Christmas…..and celebrate we did……a “small” contingent of 100 or so offspring of John and Rita, along with several cousins thrown in for good measure!!  A huge thank you to Linda who works for the Columbus Parks and Recreation and arranged for us to have the entire Whetstone Rec Center at our disposal, allowing the multitudes of young ones the opportunity to use the gym and the game room while the rest of the gang entertained each other with stories of Christmases past, as well as catching up on a year chock-full of life changing events.   Once again, Richard reprised his annual role of appearing as Santa. Unfortunately for Richard and all of the believers, as the family has grown so has the wait time of the little ones who know that Santa’s bag holds a very special gift for them.  I would have to say that as the pictures testify….they were as good as gold (oh, and Richard too!).  John and Rita’s marriage of self-sacrifice, devotion, faith and love will forever resonate in the laughter and love of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren affirming the old saying that “children are proof of God’s opinion that the world should go on”.

apron

proudly displayed on my kitchen counter
proudly displayed on my kitchen counter

I should probably explain the above picture because it directly relates to an event of the second weekend of December.  Of course, I will assume that you all know exactly what it is, but the question may linger in your minds about what in the world is an apron doing in my kitchen?!!!!   I do hope you take note of the fact that while it fits perfectly into my black and white fashion scheme….it does not, however, fit right into my domestic scheme!!!   So here is the story, which I hope I can re-tell without going into a long saga (you all know how boring I can be when I drone on and on!!).  It is an established fact that I am only semi-retired, employed four half-days/month by two extraordinarily kind and patient and generous periodontists….Dr. Ira and Dr. Lori.  Over the past four years that I have worked for them, I have come to know that a lot of  thought, effort and expense goes into the annual office Christmas party.  That being said, this year, Dr. Lori planned not just a party, but an “event”!!  We are never told exactly where the party will be held as Lori loves to keep us in suspense and so this year our clues, which we receive only a few hours before, directed us all to first, a restaurant bar where we had drinks (did you know that McCormick and Schmicks don’t serve Riunite Lambrusco???) and where Lori and Ira presented us each with an apron.  Our next stop was Sur La Table….a kitchenware store which sells not only unique and high-end culinary tools, but also offers a distinctive dining experience by hosting events whereby the guests are given the opportunity to prepare their own meal under the culinary guidance of a very knowledgeable chef.  It was great fun….I discovered cookware I had never before had the pleasure of laying eyes on (LOL) as well as learning, among many other things,  the proper way to break off asparagus stems and the proper method of searing and cooking a thick steak until it was so tender it melted in my mouth!!  I must confess however, that not only does the apron looks as clean and beautiful as the day I received it, my grandchildren continue to check all of the sell-by dates when they are looking for something in my kitchen to eat!!!!  Can you even imagine that???

I honestly do not know how any of us ever got all of the decorating, baking, shopping, and wrapping done for the holidays because the Clark family also celebrated the wedding of Erin and Casey on the Saturday before Christmas!  Mind you, none of us were complaining as weddings give us all another chance to be together, to share in the joy and happiness of adding yet another member to our family.  One regret for me, is that Casey has missed out on knowing Crick, especially since the two of them would have shared so much in common.  Casey is an outdoors kind of guy….you know the type that doesn’t mind a bit of mud, dirt and grime….he has a wealth of knowledge about cars and their engines (something Crick certainly never shared with any of my family members…..wink, wink….ha, ha, ha).  He has even invited me to attend a “dirt track race” where he speeds around a track seeing how much dirt he can stir up in which to cover the fans…..I suppose this is done so that the fans can feel as if they have actually participated in the race…..personally, I think that the whole experience could be made more attractive if the organizers would simply seat the fans in an enclosed glass dome!!  But then, no one has asked for my opinion…..right Casey???   I haven’t made it to a race as yet as I am worried about getting my hair all messed up, but now that he is actually family, I guess this will be the year that I make the ultimate sacrifice!!!  (a personal “bubble” would surely ease my pain….what say you Casey Fritz?)

Christmas followed the wedding, Joe Baird’s birthday immediately followed Christmas, Jennifer’s birthday followed Joe’s.  A Nana night with pizza, bowling and arcade games was followed by a New Year’s Eve limo ride to see the Christmas lights, which was followed by the family gathering for New Year’s Day and the OSU bowl game (which ended in a victory for the Bucks but a busted tire and rim for moi……street curbs and I have a bad relationship!!).  I suppose you have noticed the picture of  “Teddy Baird” who managed to defy the “dreamcrusher’s” dire warning to Stephanie who has been, and continues to be, the family master of bringing crazy, funny, warm-hearted, occasionally maddening, often chaotic moments into the lives of those around her (I swear that she is an unusual combination of Crick and her Grandma Clark!!).  I know that all of you animal lovers are questioning why I, the designated  “dreamcrusher”, would want to argue against Stephanie getting a dog for her family.  Well, here’s the deal…….unlike her sister, Jennifer, who has LOVED animals since she was a toddler and whose affection for dogs has never wavered, Stephanie was always a bit apprehensive and somewhat intimidated by dogs, and I was concerned that the idea of a cute little puppy was just one of those Christmas whims that would soon lose its appeal once the hard work of puppy-training reared its head.  I am therefore, pleased to say that Teddy has so far endeared himself to everyone and has become quite a happy addition to the family (don’t ask Joe though as Teddy has already cost them an arm and a leg what with the addition of an electric fence and an unexpected visit to the vet ($$$) resulting in several prescriptions to cure a poor little puppy illness!!).  If Joe happens to complain, I simply remind him that if the iguana that Stephanie brought home from a carnival (Stephanie has never met an arcade game that she could refuse to attempt to conquer!)  had not escaped when Joe and the boys took him for a “walk” this past fall, then there would not have been the need for a replacement “pet”!!  LOL  The grand-kids and I also (minus two-year old Ryan) took in an evening of bowling, pizza and arcade games during their Christmas break.  I warned the kids that I could give very little bowling instruction, given that back in the day when I was a freshman at Ohio State and took bowling as a phys-ed requirement, I could only eke out a “D”!!   And yes, that is pathetic, isn’t it???……but is it my fault that after 12 weeks I could only manage to advance from an average score of 65 to an average score of 100????…..I think my “white privilege” must have failed me! (oh dear, I just couldn’t resist that little political dig…..it’s just how I roll!! LOL)  Anyway, I took maybe five quick snapshots of them before we left and in every one of them, there were only two who resisted showing any emotion for the camera………Sam and Luke…….apparently too cool to appear to be crazy happy!!  Ha, ha, ha.  I threw the picture in of Mayce that was taken this fall at her pre-school….the photo cracks me up because there are times when we actually wish we could post it on social media to see if there were any takers!!!   Now, now…. you know that I am just being facetious, I love her to pieces, but you can ask any family member and they will attest to her frequent metamorphosis from sweet, happy, cheerful, funny, and adaptable to sullen, stubborn, petulant, disagreeable and obstinate!  Sometimes, when Mayce’s “transformation” (oops, another political buzz word!) starts to take place, I can hear Crick muttering in my head  “deja vu, MM”!!!!

Speaking of the devil (wink, wink)….I am reminded that we also celebrated what would have been Crick’s 68th birthday on January 6th.  As it has become somewhat of an annual ritual, the grand-kids re-enacted the graveside tribute of releasing helium balloons (Shhh….pretty please don’t report us to the EPA!!) into the sky.  It was their idea to add to this tradition by either writing on the balloons or attaching a brief note recalling a favorite Papa memory or saying.  It brings me great joy and comfort to know that they are eager to continue this heart-warming ritual, as in those few magical moments as we watch the balloons take flight up toward the stars, we are all once again reunited.  Just before Christmas, a season that is always, always, always a mixture of bittersweet memories, I discovered a Corrie ten Boom  poem which speaks to how our life seems to unfold in real-time, rather like viewing the backside of a tapestry.  Our lives often appear to be nothing more than a jumble of thread—tangled, frayed, occasionally knotted, and seemingly random. Nothing really makes sense. Is it any wonder that we often lose heart, and want to give up, abandon our commitments and our dreams and hopes for the future? But things are not always what they seem. It’s only when you turn a tapestry over that you see the art: the rich colors, the texture, and the patterns that can make a tapestry a thing of astonishing beauty.  Similarly, if we are living in relationship with God, we will recognize what it is that He is actually “weaving” into the fabric of our lives.  We will know, especially as I have these past five years, that nothing happens by accident.  No “thread” of experience…good or bad…is wasted.  He offer us peeks at His glory that gives us the courage to soldier on for, as Romans 8:28 reminds us, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.  When the circumstances of our lives tempts us to give up hope, we just have to remind ourselves that we are simply looking at the backside of a tapestry.  And the One who is weaving it all together, knows precisely what He is doing.

TNT

TGW

One of the costumes worn at the annual 8th graders vs teachers volleball game at I.C.
One of the costumes worn at the annual 8th graders vs teachers volleyball game at I.C.

P.S.  Had to include this picture text Stephanie sent me the other day……proof that it is my very own family who instigates my political rantings which cause everyone’s eyes to roll, followed by a mass exodus of every person within hearing range!!!  ba, ha, ha, ha, ha

TBT……..”Find Something For Mary To Do”

Given my penchant for living in the past so as to avoid present day chores (LOL)….I began searching through some of my previous posts & came upon this Thanksgiving post from 2012. Therefore, I thought that I would republish the post and offer it as an early TBT (throwback Thursday)!!! It might also serve to explain to any new readers the “dreamcrusher” title which was bestowed upon me years ago and which I try my very best to uphold! :) The post also brought back the painful memory of the 2012 election…how I wish we all knew then what we know now!  (Don’t worry I will refrain from further political comment….I am quite exhausted from explaining my views on FB the past two weeks!).  You might also take note that in the original post I made reference to “making a long story short”…..which coincidentally dovetails with my most recent “Cliff Notes” post of  3,000 “quick” words.  It seems that for me, getting to the heart of the matter, has to go by way of the head, shoulders, knees and toes!!!

TBT:

I believe I may be in some serious need of a thorough “mind sweep”  (you know, similar to a “mine” sweep which is a vessel used by the Navy to “detect, destroy, remove or neutralize explosive marine mines”.   Following the election, there is admittedly much to be “neutralized, and or, destroyed” in this (some would say) rather “explosive” mind of mine!!!!!  LOL   I am truly grateful, however, that there were so many family members who were texting or calling to check-up on me the day after the election.  And, after a twenty-four hour self-imposed exile from all political news and commentary, I finally replied to them that I had been perched on the edge of the West North Broadway bridge overlooking the dark, dreary, cold Olentangy River when a voice called out to me from the heavens yelling, “No Mare!!!!! Don’t jump!!!!!!…………………just think……………………you now have four more years to torment your family and friends with your political rantings!!!!”  Oh that Crick…………..he is definitely watching over me…………..that thought “made my day” (thank you Crick and Clint)!!!!!!

And so, with renewed determination and the firm belief that…….”in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called  according to His purpose”  (Romans 8:28)…….. I am confident that, as Aretha Franklin so famously sang………………….. “I Will Survive”!!

turkey bowl
A few of my “dreamcrushed” nieces & nephews at last year’s Turkey Bowl

There is still, however, a burning question (curiously unrelated to politics) remaining in my “explosive” mind and that is, “Where do I go from here??” (note to my children…..do not worry………it is really more of a rhetorical question).  Several days ago, as I was having breakfast at Bob Evans with Christine (thank goodness she and Bobby show up every so often………….keeps the B.E. staff from having to feel too sorry for the old “computer lady”  LOL).  Anyway, the conversation eventually moved from politics to a discussion about life in general and I began sharing with her that I felt as though I am currently at an impasse of sorts regarding my current role on planet earth.  Where am I on my life’s journey?  What is (or, as Josh says “what eeees that”?) the plan?  Perhaps it is a part of my self-declared OCD type personality that I have always, always, always needed, not only order, but structure and routine in my life; and now when I put those “two feet on the floor”, I don’t know exactly where they are supposed to go each day (I guess that is quite obvious from the fact that I tend to show up at my 1/2 day a week job on the wrong day!!!!!! LOL ).  So maybe all of my 20+ year old nieces and nephews could get together with their old “dreamcrusher” Aunt and we could help map out each other’s destinies…………oooooooohhhhhhhhnnnnnnnooooooo………..what am I saying???????  Surely they would plot to recommend me for the cook’s job at Alcatraz preparing that “pot of boiling water” for the inmates !!!!  You know, I do believe I have just stumbled upon the answer to my dilemna……………..I will issue this challenge to all of my “favorite” nieces and nephews……………….Find Something For “Mary” (another name these same nieces/nephews love to call me by) To Do ………………….the one who chooses the best viable path for me will be rewarded with the “most stupid dream” of their choice being hailed as the greatest thing since sliced bread!!!!!!

Leah, Erin & Katie found this magnet for me while on vacation last year!!
Leah, Erin & Katie found this magnet for me while on vacation last year!!

Here is the back story to the family”dreamcrusher” saga.  During the course of raising our four awesome children, I  felt the “need” to temper their enthusiasm for certain aspirations with my own “glass half-empty realism” especially as, once they had graduated from high school, their ambitions (a.k.a.”dreams” ) were mistakenly presented to me for my “approval”.  These ranged from taking on huge debt in order to go away to college,  getting an apartment, buying a car………..to…………going on any manner of  “winter/spring/summer” vacations to California/Ireland/Caribbean/Florida/Las Vegas (financed by????) because “I may never have another opportunity to do this/go there ……… to………….moving to North Carolina to try out for a professional softball team (financed by??????)……..to…….  starting up one’s own daycare facility (financed by??????)……..to……… buying an Edible Arrangement franchise (financed by??????) while holding down a full-time job……..to……. buying a Stork Decor & More franchise while caring for 3 small, young children……….to……….attending nursing school and holding down a part-time job while simultaneously caring for 3 small children……….to………holding down a full-time job while caring for 3 children and attending a Master’s degree program……….to………holding down a full-time job and pursuing the development and implementation of a newly conceived software program to improve efficiency at one’s job!!!!  Are these my kids???!!!!  Apparently the “thinking out of the box” DNA came directly from their Dad (definitely not their Mom).  Although they each experienced a few of “it’s a hard knock life” lessons, they steadfastly continued to pursue their dreams and that persistence has served them all extraordinarily well.  Now, please refer back to paragraph three of this post……….and consider the fact that simply stated my dreams were to………. marry my true love, live in the neighborhood where I grew up, raise thoughtful, caring, compassionate children, live to enjoy grandchildren and continue to grow old somewhat gracefully!!!  Mission accomplished!!!  (Well……..I am obviously still hard at work on that last one LOL!!!)  Granted, there was a lot of stuff going on in between my somewhat simple dreams and the life that often had a way of pulling me in different directions, but still, once I needed to work outside the home, I obstinately remained in the same job for eighteen years!! (my motto, then, as now is …………..”don’t jump out of the frying pan and into the fire”!!)

I guess this is turning into……..the short story……long :)!!!  All the same, I will try to get to the point (I see some eyes rolling!!).  The Clark-side nieces and nephews, while gathered together at various family functions over the years, have similarly spoken of some of their ambitions and “dreams” and I have dutifully provided them with a heavy dose of my ever-present “realism” (is that Crick’s voice I hear whispering “negativism/pessimism/cynicism”???).  Hence, they have also have come to adopt my children’s title for me…… “Dreamcrusher”………….a title, I might add, that I am honored to embrace and uphold!!!!!  I am quite certain that when we all gather at Whetstone Park for the annual Turkey Bowl on Friday, they will be most eager to share many more of their dreams for me to crush!!!  LOL

Speaking of the “Turkey Bowl” ……….it is so hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already upon us.  This is one of those alternate years when our gathering will be about half of what it usually is due to various family members spending time with the in-law side of their families.  Jennifer has bravely offered her home for all of our immediate family as well as Kathy, Bob, Chelsea, Ben, Jo, Tom, Nate and Dylan…..twenty-six in all.  Once again, I have escaped cooking the turkey as I have for forty of the forty-two years of my married life.  This year, I have been called upon to put on my infamous “pot of boiling water” in order to cook the potatoes for the traditional mashed potato casserole.  To further illustrate my renowned cooking/baking talent, I present this recent Facebook post that a very dear friend shared with me after a search through her recipe file revealed this particular “recipe” which I had apparently presented to her on the occasion of her bridal shower twenty years ago:

MM’s Recipe for Baked Tupperware With Melted Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • slave all afternoon in hot kitchen baking several dozen chocolate chip cookies
  • place cookies in $10 tupperware container
  • place tupperware on rack in oven
  • forget all about it for several hours
  • then pre-heat oven to 350 to bake large pan of lasagna
  • invite 2 sisters to dinner
  • leave house to pick up kids at basketball practice
  • stop at store, shop for 1/2 hr
  • return home
  • get prepared lasagna out of refrigerator
  • open oven door and observe tupperware and cookies which should by now be nicely baked to perfection
  • to test for doneness – be sure all tupperware plastic has melted down so that it is dripping from top rack to bottom of oven
  • be sure cookies are all lying in a melted chocolate mess at the bottom of oven.
  • spend the next day and a half cleaning the oven and apologizing to the 2 sisters who thought they were going to be treated to a lasagna dinner!!!!!!!!!!!!

You see, having very limited space in my small kitchen, I would often store (or hide) cookies/cakes/pies in my oven and the forget to remove them when I needed to bake again……………….is it any wonder that I have never earned the title of “Domestic Goddess” ?????? LOL!!!!

As I am always drawn, it seems, to writing about the coincidences between my random thoughts such as, “Where am I on life’s journey?” and God’s  insertion of Himself into that thought process, I must share this reading from my daily devotional chosen from the very same day on which I began to write this post:

As you look at the day before you, you see a twisted, complicated path with branches going off in all directions.  You wonder how you can possibly find your way through that maze.  Then you remember the One who is with you always, holding you by your right hand. You recall My promise to guide you with My counsel, and begin to relax.  As you look again at the path ahead, you notice that a peaceful fog has settled over it, obscuring your view.  You can see only a few steps in front of you, so you turn your attention more fully to Me and begin to enjoy My Presence.

The fog is a protection for you, calling you back into the present moment.  Although I inhabit all of space and time you can communicate with Me only here and now.  Someday the fog will no longer be necessary, for you will have learned to keep your focus on Me and on the path just ahead of you.                               from Jesus Calling

Even so, I stayed in your Presence, you grasped me by the right hand, you will guide me with advice and will draw me in the wake of your glory.                Psalm 73: 23-24    

Upon further reflection of the above meditation, I believe that I should apply the wisdom of our Arthur Murray dance instructor from years ago who had this perfect take on Crick and me…….. having spent some time observing our respective dance styles, he said quietly to me, “You are always trying to lead!” and to Crick he said, “You never move from your spot!”   I vow to strive for more patience and to let God lead me on whatever path my next journey takes!!!!! :)

A few final TBT thoughts:

Note to nieces and nephews……it is now three years later and I am still waking up, “putting two feet on the floor” and while I still do not know where those two feet are supposed to take me,  Mary always, always, always seems to find something to do!!

And, as I approach Thanksgiving with a heart overflowing with God’s many blessings, I think of Crick and how he used to gently admonish me with his glass half-full philosophy and how often I would silently rail against it.  Sometimes, in my stubborn mind, life just didn’t seem fair or just.  Over many years, I have learned how ironic life is…..”it takes sadness to know what happiness is, noise to appreciate silence and absence to value presence”.   Each challenge, obstacle and sorrow in my life has strengthened and empowered me to live more as Crick did…….wanting less, worrying less…..leaving me free to love more and to be at peace.  (my apologies to Crick for being such a slow learner!!  LOL)

Happy Thanksgiving and may your day be full of “all things bright and beautiful“!!!!!

TNT
TGW

Diaryofanut…..the Cliff Notes

cliff notesCharacters List:  MM(a.k.a. diaryofanut blogger), Stephanie, Olivia, Sam, Ryan, Tommy, Luke, Josh, Mayce, Joy, Judy, Rayne, Peggy, Christine, Kathy, Carole, Jo, Cecilia.

Summary:  Making a long story shorter proved to be a monumental task for the diaryofanut blogger.  Faced with countless stories of travel, inclement weather, soccer and volleyball games, birthdays, a bridal shower and a new baby (not in that order and……two different nieces…..ha, ha, ha), TGIFridays, “Ryan” Thursdays, mishaps and comedy…….there was just so little time and so little brain power that the diaryofanut blogger succumbed to……………Cliff Notes!!! The reader will therefore, be spared, as perhaps he/she once was many years ago during literature class, the agonizing trial of perusing over layers of  seemingly insignificant details in order to arrive at the key points.  Pictures have been included for those who choose to really cut to the chase LOL……oh, and BTW you will find captions to the photos if you hover your cursor over the pics and clicking on the pics will enlarge them!!

Chapter 1:

 

September brought a celebration of birthdays galore……Josh and Mayce turned five, Ryan turned two and the diaryofanut blogger turned………well………let’s just say she ain’t what she used to be!!!!   I must say that it is quite a coincidence that my last three grandchildren were all born in the month and week leading up to my birthday!  How lucky am I to be able to share all of their birthday joy with them, not to mention the cake and ice cream too!!

Chapter 2:

Toward the end of September Kathy, Cecilia, Jo, Carole, Christine and I headed to what we thought would be a week of sun and sand.  What we got was something entirely opposite………clouds and rain!!  Apparently a similar low pressure system that hovered over Ohio most of June chose to hover over North Carolina the month of September.  Prior to our arrival at the beach in North Topsail, they had already experienced over a week of drenching rain, then the low pressure system coupled with the blood moon created dangerously high tides which, as the picture above shows, eroded much of the beach which the locals told us had just been replenished last year.  We counted ourselves lucky to eek out almost two full days of sun mid-week, but by Thursday, the local weather reports were predicting more exceptionally heavy downpours.  And so it was that Friday morning we decided to check in with the N.C. State Highway Patrol who advised us to head home as coastal flooding might make some of the outgoing roads impassable.  All in all, I must say that it was a most eventful week as we mid-westerners were able to experience both the awesome fury (remember…..”It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!) and the wondrous beauty of God’s creation.  We witnessed white-capped ocean waves that stretched all the out to the horizon and when the high tides came, they slammed against the dunes and the walkways, destroying many of the steps thereby making many unusable for the week.  As we walked the beach during the brief respite from the rain, we actually saw what we declared must be the “stairway to nowhere”…….for suspended high above the dunes was a walkway where the tide had taken out the lower half of the stairs leaving only a few steps suspended in mid-air.  Fortunately for us the weather miraculously cleared just in time for the rare “blood” moon appearance.  The picture above can not do justice to this amazing phenomenon.  The house in which we were staying had a telescope and some binoculars which brought our experience up close and in person.  I kept thinking all the while that night about how excited Crick would have been to be on the deck with us peering through the telescope, feeding us bits and pieces of his extraordinary knowledge of the stars and the planets.

Chapter 3:

Four days after having returned from North Carolina, I jumped back into the car and headed once again to the Tar Heel state…..this time for a little get-away in the Blue Ridge Mountains with the Schultheis sisters.   What  a ruckus we caused upon our arrival (well…..okay……that would me “I” not “we”!!).  The house we rented was situated at what (to us) could have been the top of the mountain, but was actually the bottom of the mountain and had a key-less entry.  I made sure to have my email handy which contained the key-code so that we would be all set to gain entry into the house.  Once the door was safely opened, I closed out of the email and started to bring in my luggage.  Suddenly the security alarm began sounding (you know the sound of the prison alarm when an inmate escapes????  that was the sound!!!!!!) and Joy, who was standing near the alarm box, was anxiously waiting for me to provide her with the code to deactivate the alarm…..at the same time reminding me that we only had a minute or two to shut it off before the “big guys” would arrive.  Of course, the code was in the email which I had just closed out of, and not being known for keeping my cool while under pressure, it took me a few minutes to search my emails for the one which contained the security deactivation code.  Needless to say, it wasn’t long before the sheriff’s posse showed up, quickly apprised our predicament and instinctively seemed to know that they were just sent out to deal with a group of “dingbats”……..okay, okay…….so there was really only one “dingbat” (Crick had many such nicknames for TGW!).  Obviously, they were kind enough to pose for the above photo-op with a few of us and to also provide us with some much appreciated advice on how to keep the bears away!!  During our stay in Asheville we visited the Biltmore Estates…an extraordinary display of history and an educational look back at the ingenuity, the vision, the craftsmanship, the labor of one very wealthy man and his very talented architects.  Vacationing in the Blue Ridge Mountains was not on my “bucket list”, but I would definitely recommend adding it to yours.

Chapter 4:

I.C. kindergarten at recess
I.C. kindergarten at recess

A summary of this chapter discloses the more predictable day-to-day situations in which the “diaryofanut” often finds herself immersed.  For example, usually when I am a coming out of church on a weekday morning, the school kids can be seen enjoying their morning recess.  One particular morning I noticed a very small young boy sitting on one of the benches with his head bowed down, and sitting near him was another little guy and a small girl.  There seemed to be a conversation going on, but the one boy with the bowed head appeared to be rather upset.  Within a moment or so of watching this, I observed a small group of students (see photo above) cautiously approach the bench and before long, they all appeared to be expressing some concern over the one who looked to be so inconsolable.  It seemed to me as if they were attempting to give advice or to encourage him to join in their play when suddenly the bell rang, signalling the end of recess.  As they broke away to line up with their respective classmates, I noticed that they all appeared to be heading toward the line of the youngest students, the kindergarten.  I thought to myself…..what a touching display of Christian charity so innocently and considerately given by the youngest among us.  Oh, and by the way, to all of you Moms and Dads who so confidently send your children off to school wearing their jackets and hats in this cooler weather…..I can assure you that by the time recess rolls around all of that warm gear has been rebelliously abandoned LOL!!  Just sayin’!

Chapter 5:

Now that the school year is well under way, the TGIFriday grand-kids have returned.  I recently purchased a new basketball backboard and hoop which Christopher mounted to the garage so that the future NBA wannabe’s (don’t you worry….this “dreamcrusher” Nana has already given the grand-kids a good dose of “crush”).  And please don’t feel too sorry for them…..they have been giving it right back  as they offer up some pretty harsh critique of my awesome (NOT) jump shot!!  LOL  The TGIFridays have also been learning the fine rules and the skills of the game of croquet, a game played many times, and many years ago, in the backyards of the homes on Oakland Park.  I was only to happy to share with them the best part of the game…..”blackballing” an opponent!  I took great pleasure in instructing them how to  go after an opponent by intentionally hitting the opponent’s ball giving them the option of placing their ball next to their opponent’s, putting their foot on the top of their ball and whacking the ball as hard as they can with the mallet, hopefully sending the opponent’s ball soaring across the yard!  (FYI this did prove to be a bit tricky as the grand-kids quickly learned that their foot can also come in contact with the mallet!!……ouch!!).  Ryan has also recently joined the ranks of Nana’s protege.  In helping Jennifer and Jim out with childcare this school year,  I have acquired a “Thursday” child in Ryan, who has become a regular Thursday churchgoing buddy of mine, having learned to bless himself with the holy water, to genuflect and to light vigil candles!!   Hey….making the NBA is definitely out of reach, better to guide at least one of them toward the Pontificate!!!  Ha, ha, ha!!!  He really is a very compliant child and has learned as his Papa eventually did that life is much easier when you just let Nana call the shots……..otherwise……..well, you know “Main Street” happens!!!

Chapter 6:

Mayce and Josh....always willing to be Nana's little helpers
Mayce and Josh….always willing to be Nana’s little helpers

And then there are the “dynamic duo” of Mayce and Josh, with whom I am granted impromptu childcare privileges :).  I have discovered that they are very working oriented and so I decided to tap into that mindset one day while they were hanging out with me.  I was busy cleaning the house and they wanted to know what they could do to help.  As I was mopping the floor, I suspected that what they really wanted was to somehow be involved with the bucket of water, and so I found two old toothbrushes and told them that they could help me clean the grout and then work on the wainscoting.  They had a great time……..I got my work done……mission accomplished!!!

Chapter 7:

Olivia and Sam.....my how time flies!!
Olivia and Sam…..my how time flies!!

Olivia and Sam have retained part-time membership in the TGIFriday grand-kids’ club while they are busy pursuing their high school education at Crick’s and my alma mater, Bishop Watterson.  A few weeks ago, they both went to homecoming, an event which Watterson neglected to incorporate into its football season “way” back in the 60’s (BTW….the Eagles made it into the second round of the Ohio high school football playoffs).  My how time flies and how times change and how grateful I am to be witnessing this 3rd generation of the Clark/Schultheis families as Watterson Eagles!!

Chapter 8:

Caution.....dlrectionally challenged lady golfers ahead
Caution…..directionally challenged lady golfers ahead

What doesn’t change however, is the directionally challenged DNA of a few of the Clark family female descendants.  To further explain this legacy, one only has to have been a fly on the golf carts of Christine, Stephanie and “Moi” on a Wednesday morning in early October.  We had just finished the third  hole and as everyone was playing pretty well, we were feeling unusually confident.  BIG MISTAKE!!!  When we reached the fourth hole, we checked out the distance to the green (you know, just like everyday golfers do so that they can judge which club they want to use!), and I remember commenting that the distance from tee to green did not seem to match what was on the scorecard.  Of course, not having questioning minds and being mathematically challenged, we blew off this discrepancy, teed off, reached the green and putted out.  On to the fifth hole…………or so we thought.  As we got back into our golf carts, we noticed a few cart paths going in different directions and a couple of signs indicating the ninth and twelfth holes, however we could not see the sign with the arrow pointing us to the fifth hole!!  Puzzled and not knowing which cart path to follow, I spied a young man hard at work aerating one of the nearby greens and decided to ask him who stole the fifth hole!!!  Upon hearing my question, he broke out into this huge grin, asked us what green we had just played and when we pointed it out to him, he broke into this exuberant laugh all the while explaining to us that the hole we had just finished playing was the eighth!!!  Now I have to tell you that to this day, I do not understand how we skipped from the fourth green to the eighth tee, but I know it has something to do with some golf course architect who just wanted to play mind games with a few scatterbrained females LOL!!  In the picture above, if you zoom in you might just see ahead of the golf cart a John Deer-like machine leading the way for us….over the cart paths, across a grouping of trees, through the rough, past a few sand traps, over a couple of fairways and leading us right up to the elusive fifth hole!!!  I only wish I knew how he described this incident to his greenskeeper buddies!!  It is a good thing that the three of us do not take our golf games too seriously!!

Chapter 9:

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I am making use of this most cherished Mickey Mantle baseball card, thoughtfully purchased for me by my brother, Tommy (a die-hard Dodger fan), to illustrate a point made in a recent homily given by our parish’s deacon.  As has been mentioned in previous posts, Deacon Campbell, or Bud as our family knows him, has been a friend of many years and whenever Bud speaks at church…….people listen!!  In his homily, Bud was explaining the meaning behind the readings of the day, one of which was the Gospel of St. Mark 10:35-45.  This scriptural passage touched on the subject of ambition.  James and John, thinking that Jesus was going to set up a political kingdom to overthrow the Roman rulers, asked for assurances from Jesus that he would make them first and second-in-command of his messianic rule.  Jesus then called all of the disciples together to explain once again to them that greatness comes not from what we have, nor is it in what we can get from others, but in what we can give to others.  True greatness Jesus tells them consists in loving,  humble and sacrificial service…..service means putting our gifts at the disposal of others.  Rather than promoting our own honor and glory, we must put ourselves in the humble and demanding role of becoming a servant to others, to intentionally seek the happiness and fulfillment of those we love regardless of the cost to ourselves.  With regard to the act of humbling ourselves before others, especially our leaders, Bud gave the example of the athletes of today who feel the need to excessively celebrate their own accomplishments when they do one good thing even resorting to mocking their opponents.  He then recalled a story he had heard about Mickey Mantle.  (I was sitting next to Joe and Luke, who immediately threw a smiling look my way!!!).  It seems that after hitting a home run (of which he hit many….wink, wink!!) Mickey had a habit of keeping his head down as he ran around tagging all of the bases.   A curious  reporter once asked him why it was that he always kept his head down and  Mickey’s response was that he felt that the pitcher felt bad enough that he had just given up a home run, and Mickey didn’t feel the need to rub it in his face.  Thank you Bud, for sharing this small yet shining example of what we are all called to be……humble servants of our God.  (and also for reaffirming my childhood hero!)

Well……there you have it…..the “Diaryofanut” Cliff Notes.  I will accept your grateful sighs of relief that these 2,792 words really and truly spared you the full-blown version of the life of this nut.  And trust me 2, 792 words are far easier on the mind than 2, 792 pages!!!

I will sign off with one final thought from C.S. Lewis:

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

TNT

TGW

 

 

A Remembrance Salute to Papa

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A soldier’s salute in memory of Crick

With each passing year since Crick’s death,  I am realizing that missing him is becoming one of the most normal things that I do.  I don’t mean that to be taken in a morbid or depressing sense at all, for to me, missing him reminds me that our love was/is real and eternal.  Today while at Adoration I felt the need to listen to something spiritual to help me to center my focus on being in the Presence of the Eucharist, and so I put in my earbuds and began listening to my Catholic radio station app.  The program that was featured curiously enough, was Father John Riccardo speaking on the subject of  death, grief and hope.   Of the many inspiring and comforting messages that he presented, the one that I found most comforting was his reminder that our deceased loved ones are continually present to us…..they watch over us, they see us, they see our struggles, and they pray for us until we too are reunited with them.  At the end of the post I will provide a link to the talk for anyone who has struggled with the loss of a loved one and is searching for meaning and hope.

As has been the case for the past couple of years, I am re posting this special remembrance on this fourth anniversary of Crick’s death.

“The life given us by nature is short, but the memory of a life well spent is eternal.” Cicero

Over the course of the past few days, I have been deeply touched by the comforting gestures and messages of remembrance from friends and relatives as our family paused to remember the third anniversary of Crick’s death.  It speaks volumes about how one “glass half-full” life has touched so many.  Not long ago, I removed a large yellow bag from a closet containing hundreds of handmade cards which were presented to Crick upon his retirement, again during his cancer treatment, and yet again following his death, from the students at Glacier Ridge Elementary where Crick had been a custodian since his return from Kosovo in 2005.  I had not looked at them for some time, and as I reached into the bag and began pulling a few out to re-read, I was struck anew by the simplistic poignancy and heartfelt emotion from these six to eleven year old children whom Crick had befriended.  I smiled as I saw note after note adorned with the mints like the ones that Crick kept in his pockets to hand out to the kids as he passed by them in the hallways or as he said goodbye as he watched them get onto their respective buses.  Because Crick worked the afternoon and evening shift, he developed a special bond with the latchkey kids whom he saw more frequently. He delighted in playing little pranks on them and they happily reciprocated by hiding his keys or dropping something on a floor he had just recently swept.  Crick was, as Aunt Judy described him so aptly……a “kid’s kid”……he could relate to kids because he instinctively knew how to come down to their level (I am seriously biting my tongue to hold back from commenting on that!!!  LOL).  In order to help you to appreciate the friendship the GRE kids and Crick shared, I have selected a handful of their lovingly crafted “Mr. Jim” notes and have showcased them in the following video:

In the hope of keeping Crick’s memory alive in the hearts of all those who loved him, I am also sharing a portion of last year’s post which contained these insightful and touching reflections from our family and friends who shared them with us via the CaringBridge guest book:

Jim is a remarkable man who brought a smile to my face and always brought smiles to the faces of the children at Glacier Ridge Elementary. He has touched my heart just like he does with everyone he meets.

I once thought “Crick could turn a turnip into an apple.”

60th birthday
60th birthday

The first two years I thought Crick was crazy.  I just wasn’t used to him and the way he was always goofing off and pushing everyone’s buttons.  Over the years I have come to consider him a really good friend and more like a brother than a father-in-law.  What I have realized the last few years is that he always did understand me.  We could talk and nothing was ever forced, it was always real and he always listened when I needed him to.  He would always take my side when the women would gang up on us, and of course, we would instigate everything.

He is a man’s man.  Well, he has not only championed that sentiment, but has done one BETTER………he is a kid’s kid!

Crick & grandkids & parachute
Always in the middle of the Grandkids’ play

I remember when Crick took us outside one winter to build, not just a typical snowman, but our very own igloo!!  We built it so big it lasted until almost spring!  He also helped me to buy my very first car, it was a stick shift and he helped me learn how to drive it and, after many hours of practice, he suggested that we take the car for a test drive up Cooke Rd. to see if I could handle it on a hill.  Well…..I couldn’t make it up the first hill and we kept drifting backwards toward the car behind us.  Finally, Crick put his foot over mine on the accelerator and away we went.  I think his exact words to me were, “Well, you can always sell this car to someone else!”.  He would always beg me to walk on his back and promise to give me all of the change in his pocket.  Boy, was I naive, thinking I was going to make a lot of money.  But……..he did teach me the value of a quarter!!!  Over the years, Crick would put a lot on his back for our family.

Crick was fortunate to have many of his teenage family and friends as his employees during his management days at Friendly’s (or I should say, we were lucky enough to have him employ us!).  As a freshman in college, Crick gave me the confidence to become a supervisor and while I didn’t believe that I could handle the responsibility, he put me right out there and trusted that I could!  He saw a potential in me at that age that I had didn’t even know existed.  When we were younger he would take all of us kids hiking during our “Clark cabin trips” and using his army “skills” would take us on quite an adventure down some incredible hills.  He would also hand out to us his army rations to sample…………yuk!!

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Getting ready to “feed” the fish!!

I started thinking about how long I have known Crick…………it has been basically my whole life!!  I remember sitting in our living room on Oakland Park and talking into a reel to reel tape recorder to say “hi” to him when he was stationed in Korea and then he would send the tape back to us so that we could hear his voice.  I remember Mom making me clean the basement before his wedding to MM in order to display all of the priceless wedding gifts (wonder if they have any left!).   Funny to think now, that I was one of the altar servers at their wedding!!  Crick was also there for Jimmy……there was the day that Jimmy was hiding in the bushes in front of our house and Crick went out to gently remind Jimmy that he was at home and not back in Viet Nam.  Who else but a veteran like Crick could have known what Jimmy was going through. Crick was also there when I was going to enlist in the Army Reserves and he was going to make sure that I ended up in his unit so that he could watch over me………..he even went to the commander to make sure this would happen.  For some reason I never did enlist, but I always knew that Crick was going to be there for me.  Crick has been and always will be one of my brothers!!

I developed a friendship with “Mr. Jim” at Glacier Ridge Elementary.  Our relationship was always  of a fun nature!  I tutored students after school and of course, Jim made us regular visits.   In return, we would pull his vacuum cleaner plug, toss candy wrappers on his tidied floor and turn lights out, to name a few of the things we did to get him to react.  Jim and I quickly became friends and always had fun with our antics.  Yet, we could also have wonderful discussions on life.  He became a real friend to me as we both shared in common the closeness of our own families.  Jim will be missed by more people that we can fathom and I know that Jim will be meeting my Mom in heaven and making her laugh like he always made me!

Crick drew kids to him wherever he went....even to Korea and Kosovo
Crick drew kids to him wherever he went….even to Korea and Kosovo

It seems like a long time ago that Crick and I were standing on the field at St. Michael’s in our wildly unprotective football gear……paper thin shoulder pads, helmets with no face guards or chin straps, and for me,…………fearing the fact that I would have to tackle his older brother, John as he came blasting through the line.  Life seems to warp into hyper-speed as we grow older.  I must say that although Crick and I were never terribly close growing up, I have fond memories of him: caddying with him at York Temple, the fact that he seemed to instinctively know how car engines worked, and how he always exuded this sort of Gary Cooper type…….tall, dependable, good-hearted vibe, even as a kid.  And if his presence is still felt by someone as distant as I am to him, I can only imagine what his presence means to all of those who are truly close to him.  It speaks volumes about how Crick has journeyed through this life.

You were loved….you are loved……you will always, always, always be loved.

As the anniversary date falls on the Feast of All Souls, I would like to offer this reflection from the book of Wisdom 3:1-9 which was read at Mass:

But the souls of the upright are in the hands of God and no torment can touch them.  To the unenlightened, they appeared to die, their departure was regarded as disaster, their leaving us like annihilation; but they are at peace.  If, as it seemed to us, they suffered punishment, their hope was rich with immortality; slight was their correction, great will their blessings be.  God was putting them to the test and has proved them worthy to be with Him……Those who trust in Him will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with Him in love; for grace and mercy await His holy ones, and He intervenes on behalf of His chosen.

And so it is, that our family drinks of the “glass half-full”, each morning, “putting two feet on the floor” and being ever grateful for all of God’s many, many blessings.

Message to Crick…………………….while God has you in His keeping, be assured that your family has you in their hearts…………………..Always, Always, Always :)

In Memory Video:

TNT

TGW

Don’t Know Much………..Edition III

Wanting to once again commemorate the wedding anniversary of the union of the DH (dear husband) and TGW (the good wife), I have chosen to re-post this blog from 2013, along with the accompanying video. This year (our 45th) as the anniversary date approached, I realized that I did not have the time to create a new post, nor could I find better words to express the emotion that is always, always, always front and center in my mind and in my heart.  I did, however, happen upon yet another song that speaks to the comfort that my faith provides when sadness intrudes in those still unsuspecting moments and decided to upload some rare photos of just the two of us (we all know how much Crick despised having his picture taken) and have added this short video to the blog.  It does seems as though I have this “need” to continue to add more material with each passing year since Crick has been gone…….if I continue this each year, I may break the Guinness World Records for lengthy anniversary blogs!!!!   You will find the “editions” in the P.P.S. at the end of the post.   

Top row: Jimmy, Joy, Jay, Feller, Johnny Middle Row: Cecilia, Kathy, MM, Crick, Lee Bottom Row: Christine, Tommy
Top row: Jimmy, Joy, Jay, Feller, Johnny
Middle Row: Cecilia, Kathy, MM, Crick, Lee
Bottom Row: Christine, Tommy
MM in Mom's wedding dress with Ce 1959
MM in Mom’s wedding dress with Ce 1959
MM and Cecilia 11 years later
MM and Cecilia 11 years later
Someone apparently told Crick to say “cheese” LOL

Memory can only tell us what we were,
in the company of those we loved;
it cannot help us find what each of us, alone, must now become.
Yet no person is really alone;
those who live no more, echo still within our thoughts and words,
and what they did has become woven into what we are.
~ Jewish prayer 

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This week I have been on a bit of a sentimental journey as today is the 42nd anniversary of the day when the “glass half-full” wed the “glass half-empty” and an incredible journey was begun.  I have countless memories of the “good, the bad and the ugly” (which brings to mind the actor, Clint Eastwood…..which brings to mind an empty chair…which brings to mind a certain political convention……but for today, I will stay on topic, so that you may all rest easy!!  LOL).  The little strips of typewritten paper which I inserted above were several of thirty-eight which Crick had attached to thirty-eight roses he had placed throughout the house to be discovered by me when I had returned home work to celebrate our anniversary four years ago.  Without a doubt, this was the single most romantic idea he had ever conceived!!!  As you can see from the “new-found political activism” mention, the year was 2008……the year I became, not just any “nut”, but a ““right-wing nut!!!  And of course, you will notice the words “stubbornness” and “ways you get mad” (I do believe, he just might have been recalling the “King’s Island Main Street incident”!!!………which, I must confess, was unfortunately not an isolated event!).  I am  quite sure that Peggy and Mark will take particular note of the “NOT my fishing and camping partner”, for no matter how awesome Crick tried to make the idea of camping out in a hot, stuffy tent, sleeping all too close to terra firma, among the creepy, crawling insects, the squirrels and raccoons, and those pesky, chirping birds; I have always, always, always preferred the creature comforts of home.  And foremost among those thirty-eight for which Crick was expressing his gratitude, were our children and grandchildren, for whom we both always, always, always agreed were our greatest blessings.

2009-04-22 15.24.48-26As I was looking through some pictures, I came across the lease for our very first apartment which was on North High Street just up the road from St. Michael’s where Crick graduated from grade school.  Along with the lease I also discovered that I had kept  our first checkbook ledger and thought that, as one of  the slips of paper above indicates, I was the family “financier”, I should share how far $400/month salary would take you back in 1970.  I was struck not just by the fact that our rent was only $100/month, but that our very first check was to Columbia Gas for $2.56.  Looking further down the list I took particular note that there was a check written to Ohio State University for $255.00 which was to pay for Crick’s tuition for fall quarter that year!!!  Today, that amount would hardly cover the cost of one book!   I also noticed that a check had been written to Agler-Davidson (a once popular sporting goods store) and now recall that the amount was to cover the cost of some football equipment as Crick and a couple of my brothers had this cockamamie idea that they would join a local semi-pro football league which was being tried out in Columbus.  Crick and Johnny played for the “Blue Angels”……………what? you’ve never heard of them??????  Not surprising, the league went bust shortly thereafter, but what I do remember is that there was this little tiny bit of a………. dare I say………..  “discussion” between the newly wedded, blissful couple about the wisdom of spending money on something so unnecessary as football equipment!!   So now, you all know why I became the “financier”!!  LOL  I just know that Crick is pacing back and forth up there in the heavens telling anyone who will listen to him that he knew this would happen one day………..that my hanging on to letters and incriminating pieces of the past would come back to haunt him.  I still have in my possession, almost three years worth of letters that he wrote to me when he was in the Army……..Fort Knox, Fort Sill, Fort Carson and Korea……….yep, whenever he remembered my box of his letters, he would go on and on about how I should get rid of them because, you know, they were just dust collectors and a lot of ancient history.  Welllllllllllll,  I have always loved history and now one of these days I am just going to have to re-read all of those letters and really tick Crick off!!!!  :)

I actually have been on a mission of sorts the past two days to put together some pictures from forty-two years ago, as my own small way of honoring this day and all of the memories attached to it.  And as I was sorting through the various photos, and a few of the cards that I had kept of anniversaries past, I remembered something.  One year, probably twenty years ago (gosh was 1990 that long ago???), Crick and I had surprisingly presented each other with the very same gift!!  Now this is even more remarkable because we did not always exchange gifts as money was usually tight (due in part to a very stingy financier!!!).  This particular year however, we shockingly presented each other with…………………a cassette (CD’s were just becoming popular, but we obviously were not on the cutting edge of new technology !!!) of  a hit song by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville titled “Don’t Know Much”.  It seemed to touch us both in the same way about how we  each viewed our relationship………and so I listened to it again for the first time in quite a while and realized how perfectly it suited us.  I decided to see if I could put the pictures and the music together and after a lot (A LOT!!) of trial and error this is how it turned out.  (click the arrow on lower right hand corner of video for full screen)

TNT

TGW

P.S.  Remember that last wedding picture in the video??  This was a re-enactment forty years later……………………………….you just can’t account for “maturity” LOL!!!

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P.P.S.  A few weeks ago, I was driving home from running an errand and I happened to be not too far from Resurrection Cemetery and so, out of the blue, I decided to redirect my homeward destination.  Now, I couldn’t begin to explain the rationale for this sudden change in plans except that there was this inexplicable desire for me to do so.  There is one thing about cemeteries……………..they are very quiet :)…………..and perhaps that is exactly what I unknowingly needed.  Anyway, after spending some time in reflection and prayer at the grave-sites of Crick, my parents and my two brothers, I got back into my car and drove home.  Several hours later, still in somewhat of a rather pensive mood, I was searching in my wallet for an appointment card when I discovered this:

dear husband DH

Call me crazy……………..(and many do!!!!)………..but I have no recollection of ever having placed this pocket-coin in my wallet.  In fact, I can’t even remember purchasing such a coin and the only explanation for me having it would be that I gave it to Crick when he went over to Kosovo with the National Guard in 2004.  Over the course of our marriage, there were few situations which would have triggered the giving of such a sentimental token, except for just such a dire situation as his leaving me and the family for nine long months!!!  (LOL)  However this coin came into my possession remains a curious question……….and it matters not the how I came to find it, but the why.  The mere fact that its appearance came on the very day that I had been in need of feeling Crick’s presence, brought me comfort, not only in that amazing moment, but the sheer memory of that moment, has continued to provide me a sense of peaceful contentment.

And so, on this 44th anniversary of the DH and TGW, I hold onto this thought of Marguerite’s from the book, “The Five People You Meet In Heaven”:

“Lost love is still love.  It just takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t hold their hand, you can’t tousle their hair. But when those senses weaken, another one comes to life. Memory. Memory becomes your partner, you hold it, you dance with it.  Life has to end…………love doesn’t.”

charm mm crick 2

Once Upon A Time……The End!

After my last “diaryofanut” post waaaaaayyyyyyy back on April 24th…….I began what turned into a rather long, unintentional sabbatical. For whatever reason, whenever I would think about sitting down to type, I was either interrupted by life events, or I simply talked myself into using my free time to research just one more political article (wink, wink!), or…….. I discovered that my cluttered brain simply refused to get itself organized!!!  Finally, after weeks and weeks of procrastination, from somewhere out of the blue, I suddenly felt nudged by the spirit to begin to jot down some “diaryofanut” thoughts. However, when I attempted to log-on to my WordPress administrator page, I discovered that WP would not recognize my email or password. After many frustrating #$%#! hours of searching support forums, etc.etc., I ended up finding an account recovery process (which was indeed a “process”) and was able to at long last resolve the e-mail issue and get a new password. Not only were my meager attempts to return to the documenting of the harum-scarum (I love that adjective!!) life of a nut thwarted by WordPress issues, but my ten month NEW HP laptop, which has never worked properly from the very beginning, was in and out and in and out and in and out (well, you get the idea) of Micro Center’s repair center.  At long last, the tech guys decided to install a new motherboard and a new internal battery (btw..I have an idea about why it is termed a “mother”board and not a “father”board”…… mothers’ brains, i.e. boards, are the storers of vast amounts of critical and superfluous details about everything and everyone….fathers’ brains would literally explode were they to be exposed to so much “data”!!).  And now, after two weeks, the new installations seem to have my laptop back up to speed.  Of course, when I then went to try to transfer photos from my iphone to the laptop, I discovered that my laptop refused to recognize my phone!!!!  #$%#@#!  I have spent some serious time the past month on Google seeking to resolve all of these various and sundry aggravations. You can be absolutely certain that Google knows all anyone would ever want to know about me from my never-ending web searches. I suppose that I will not, therefore, be surprised should some nefarious looking men in trench-coats from the government turn up on my doorstep seeking the whereabouts of a certain “right-wing nut”!!

Could my Dad (on the left) have actually been a secret member of the FBI??
Could my Dad (on the left) have actually been a secret member of the FBI??

Actually, I have to confess that I have been somewhat obsessed (who??? me???) with this summer’s numerous political headlines which have kept me so preoccupied that the blog was relegated to the back of the bus (oh dear, is that a politically correct phrase?? I think it must be, especially since our President made an oblique reference to it when speaking on the economy and telling the GOP that they “could come for the ride, but they gotta sit in the back”). Now please do not get your feathers all ruffled my dear family, I am not going to get on my soapbox, I am simply, for the record, explaining that this “obsession” is the most logical rationale for my three-month long absence from diaryofanut.
Right along with Ohio’s weather, this summer has seen its share of ups and downs.  In the interest of brevity (for which I have never been known), I will skip over  most of the “merry month of May” in order to highlight the summer of 2015 which seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye!!
As soon as the school year ended our immediate family of 18 headed back to the place of some of our favorite memories…….Duck beach in the Outer Banks. We were fortunate to be able to rent a home on the same street where we had come with Crick on two previous occasions in order to allow the kids and grand-kids to rekindle those favorite moments they shared with their Dad and Papa…….walking down to the shops in the evening to get ice cream…..waking early to go to Duck Donuts and spend a small fortune on a little round pastry with a hole in the middle (FYI…bringing Duck Donuts to Clintonville was the final dream I attempted to “crush” of Crick’s!)…….playing a game of pool……..relaxing in the hot tub……..fishing for crabs…..star gazing in the night sky, trying to identify all of the constellations Crick had taught them. The entire week was a nostalgic blend of old and new memories and every day was a day of sunshine!

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And then…………….we returned to Ohio where the rain fell for 40 days and 40 nights!!!! Okay, okay……God did promise that He would never again destroy the earth by water……but seriously…..nineteen straight days of rain in June with just a couple of days reprieve before the rainfall started up again……we Ohioans were beginning to Google ” how to build an ark”!! One day I used my weather app to look at the continental United States and there was little old Ohio, all alone among the 50 states, showing up in varying shades of green…….radar’s color for precipitation!!
Not only did rain play a prominent role in this summer’s saga, but hospitals were a significant feature as well.  Mayce became the first casualty in early May….running happily across her front yard when she took a bad tumble and ended up in the ER of Children’s Hospital needing surgery to put in a couple of pins for a broken elbow. She was in a cast for five weeks which fortunately was able to be removed just before we left for vacation. Then in July, while Natalie was playing in a softball tournament, Sam had taken 22 month old Ryan over to a nearby playground to keep Ryan entertained. Sam was helping Ryan use the monkey bars, when suddenly Ryan let go with one arm and dislocated his other elbow resulting in a trip to the same Children’s ER where the good doctors skillfully put it back in place…….ouch!!!  Fast forward four weeks to the day and Ryan ends up back in the same ER having taken a nasty fall in a bounce house at the Immaculate Conception festival.  This time he appeared to have fractured the same elbow and so his arm was place in a cast for a week until they could have an orthopedic doctor take another x-ray and re-examine the elbow.  Luckily for Ryan (and especially Jennifer and Jim!), it was determined that the elbow was only badly sprained and so they removed the cast and splinted the elbow for a few more days.  And then there was poor, brother Bobby…….he found himself unexpectedly at the James Cancer Hospital ER for an emergency hernia surgery in late July.  It does seem as though Dad jinxed him years ago when he jokingly told Bobby who was in between jobs at the time that, unfortunately for him, the proverbial light at the end of a tunnel was in all likelihood…..a train!!!  Oh, the dark Clark humor!!!  (and my children wonder where my cynicism comes from!!!).  After spending a most frustrating five days in the hospital and another week or more recovering at the Demko B&B (as Bobby now refers to the old homestead!), he may find at long, long last that the light at the end of the tunnel may actually be some real, honest to goodness daylight!!!

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Perhaps it was all of the bad karma emanating from the conversation we had one Sunday evening about all of the horrible verses to the Mother Goose nursery rhymes that eventually caught up to us, and brought “Jill” (a.k.a. Mayce) tumbling down the small hill in her front yard and caused “Humpty” (a.k.a. Ryan) to take that nasty spill in the IC bounce house, and gave rise to the “Ring around the Rosy” that sent  Bobby to the ER.   Seriously, you should Google http://www.ncregister.com/blog/matthew-archbold/the-horrible-meanings-behind-nursery-rhymes…..I promise you that you will never say those nursery rhymes with the same lighthearted feeling ever again!!  EVER!!!

Speaking of nursery rhymes…..I will take a cue from my very favorite children’s book and post a few more pictures using captions instead of sentences so as to shorten the story of the diaryofanut summer.

Once upon a time

I happen to be a very finicky Nana when it comes to reading to my Grand-kids.  Sensing their short attention spans, I prefer books that read rather quickly or have nice short rhyming sentences.  The Once Upon a Time book is a cleverly condensed version of very traditional bedtime stories such as “the two little pigs” and “Goldilocks and some bears” and with that in mind.  I present this final montage:

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Should there be any new readers to this blog………please, please, please do not assume that the Bernie Sanders yard sign was in my yard!!!!  I am just the “right-wing nut” who stopped her car to snap the photo!!  ‘Nuff said!!  (as the family all sighs in relief!).

One final story to share.  One day a week or so ago, I was at morning Mass and was listening as Father was speaking to us about St. Dominic whose feast day the church was celebrating.  At the mention of the name “Dominic”, my mind immediately set off in a different direction and I found myself thinking about a family that I know of who have a son by that name.  And then, I began to try to remember the name of the second of the three boys in the family.  The first name that popped into my head was Tony, but I knew that wasn’t his name, but I couldn’t get the name out of my mind, and found myself reviewing all of the Tony or Toni’s that I have known in my life.  Suddenly the name Tony Kubek surfaced (if you are younger than sixty, you probably have no clue who he is!!) and as a life-long Yankee, I began to see if I could name, the starting line-up for the 1960 New York Yankees!!!!  I started with Bill “Moose” Skowron at 1st base,  then Bobby Richardson, Clete Boyer, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra.  All of sudden, I became aware of my surroundings and was horrified to realize that I had missed the entire homily…..I had somehow replaced God with the 1960 Yankees!!!   Surely I will rightfully spend some time in Purgatory for that mental lapse.  (When I got home from Mass, I “Googled” the 1960 team to see if I was right, and discovered that while Yogi Berra was on the team, he was sharing time with Elston Howard and a player by the name of Hector Lopez was the left-fielder).  I write about this because I have been struggling of late to keep my focus on the moment at hand, especially when I am sitting in the Lord’s House and should be surrendering all of my mind, heart and soul to the God of all Creation.  Interestingly enough, when I opened my Jesus Calling devotional yesterday this was the message :

“I am the Eternal I am; I always have been and I always will be.  In My Presence you experience Love and Light, Peace and Joy.  I am intimately involved in all your moments, and I am training you to be aware of Me at all times.  Your assignment is to collaborate with Me in this training.

I have taken up residence within you; I am central in your innermost being.  Your mind goes off in tangents from its holy Center, time after time.  Do not be alarmed by your inability to remain focused on Me.  Simply bring your thoughts gently back to Me each time they wander.  The quickest way to redirect your mind to me is to whisper My Name.”                        from Jesus Calling

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.”                   1 Corinthians 3:16-17

God’s word never ever, ever fails to remind us that we are His precious children.  We may fall short of even our own expectations, but God is always, always, always with us, promising us His infinite Love, Light, Peace and Joy.

That. Is. All.

TNT

TGW

Me, Calvin and Miss Wormwood

According to Dictionary.com, the meaning of “diary” is: A daily record, usually private, especially of the writer’s own experiences, observations, feelings, attitudes, etc.  I must therefore confess that the Diaryofanut blog has fallen quite a bit short of this definition.  Not only, is my diary not private, but it certainly has not been daily, and with increasing frequency, it has fallen from its monthly status!!  It not that I struggle to actually speak about my experiences, feelings, or attitudes (just ask a member of my family…….any member!),  it is just that it becomes difficult to put into print a coherent chronology of all that transpires in the life of a “nut”!  Perhaps this video which presents a comedic analysis of the female/male brain will sufficiently explain my plight!

You see……..”everything” in my mind is connected to “everything” and the longer I procrastinate about sorting it all out in order to write a somewhat coherent blog, the easier it becomes to put off writing until another day, and so on, and so on………and now, here I sit, two months later with a kabillion words connecting to a kabillion events and I have no idea where to begin.  “Calvin, can you hear me???  Do you know what I am talking about??  Help!!  Help!!!”

calvin & homework

I knew that I could count on Calvin……….I am not a machine…….I take pride in my work…..I value craftsmanship!!!  No wonder I procrastinate………brilliantly explained by a six-year old cartoon character!!  Two days or two months….Calvin and I apparently need lots of time to develop and perfect our respective “crafts”!  LOL

And now, without further ado, I present the result of two months worth of procrastination beginning with my favorite winter diversion – basketball.  First of all, let me just say that our Ohio State Buckeyes were as frustrating to watch as the Ohio winter weather!!  It was a down year in terms of producing the sort of excitement that us diehard fans are used to experiencing, I guess I have been spoiled by so many successes.  That being said, I was fortunate to have “friends” in high places  (thanks to my brother, Bobby) who had season tickets down close to the court which he very generously shared with all of the family.

MM, Jo, Tommy....center court.....it doesn't get any better than that!!
MM, Jo, Tommy….center court…..it doesn’t get any better than that!!
Brutus
Brutus “bowing” before the “dreamcrusher”!!!

At this particular game, Jo and I (for the second time this season) were privy to Bobby’s court side seats and as you can see, Brutus Buckeye paid our little VIP section a personal visit…..notice how he is even sort of bowing before us??   Okay, okay so he wasn’t even remotely aware that Jo and I existed..he  was actually leaning over to acknowledge one of the kids a few seats below us!  My youngest brother Tommy, (the sibling whom I swear was born with a silver spoon in his mouth!) sent us a text that he, being the beneficiary of a friend’s VIP tickets, was also at the game and was seated center court, directly above the student cheering section (see??…….I told you he is the “S.S.S”……silver spoon sibling!).  We decided to meet at half-time at which time we were graciously invited by Tommy and his friend to join their group for the remainder of the game.  And so it was, that Jo and I surrendered Bobby’s fabulous corner court-side seats for Tommy’s luxury front and center court-side seats.  Loved, loved, loved watching the Buckeyes up close and in person……….seeing D’Angelo Russell work his magic was especially awesome.  Hats off to the brothers!!!

Luke's periorbital hematoma, a.k.a. shiner,
Luke’s periorbital hematoma, a.k.a. shiner,
Sophia and teammates get last minute instructions from Chris and Meg
Sophia and teammates get last-minute instructions from Chris and Meg

Doesn’t Luke look a little bit like Harry Reid?? (for all of you non-political readers, you might want to google Harry Reid and his exercise bands “accident” LOL).  Poor Luke he was playing basketball for his 5th grade I.C. team when he was tripped up and fell flat on his face…..this picture was taken a couple of days later and shows the ugly aftermath.  That black eye stayed with him for a couple of weeks as it went from black and blue to a yellow, green and purple.  He won’t admit it, but I think he must have impressed a few 5th grade girls with his new “tough guy” look.  Of course, Luke wasn’t the only Schultheis playing some hoops…..Christopher and Megan doubled up as a coaching team for Sophia’s 4th grade I.C. team.  I believe that it took Chris and Megan several games to gradually lower what were initially some rather high expectations of their team, realizing that, even though many of the girls had played rec ball the year before, 4th grade is still pretty much a learning year:).  Over the course of several months, Sophia and her teammates gained increasing confidence as they improved their ball handling and shooting skills, I am not sure however, if they ever managed to grasp the significance of Christopher’s clipboard x’s and o’s!!! LOL

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State Champs! Nate is first row, first left.

The family also had a chance to cheer on my nephew, Nate and his team, the Racers, as they battled their way through many hard-fought games to reach the finals of the State Division III Special Olympics Basketball Championship. They pulled out a victory and no one, absolutely no one, could have been more happy than Nate. That Nate….he never fails to amaze us with his self-assured confidence as he plows through guys taller and heavier, fighting for every stray ball, driving to the hoop for a lay-up or sinking a three pointer!!  What we all really love about Nate is that he always, always, always says exactly what is on his mind (Mmmmm…could that be an “aunt” inherited trait???)  For instance, right after the championship game, with his Dad standing well within hearing range, Nate walked up to his coach and told him that he was a better coach than his Dad (who had been the team’s coach for several years prior)!  Nate calls ’em as he sees ’em!!  In Nate’s world, even Lebron’s innate ability on the court can not measure up to his own……Nate assures us all that he could go one on one with Lebron and beat him……every….. single….. time!!

My new favorite
My new favorite “loser” casino machine!!
This was my mantra of the day!!
This was my mantra of the day!!

Basketball was not the only winter diversion……the Schultheis sisters graciously invited two of us “outlaws”, Rayne and myself, to meet up with them at The Hollywood Casino (a.k.a. Columbus’ local gambling establishment) a few weeks ago for an afternoon of literally hundreds of games of chance. “Games” and “chance” are two words that never translate into “fortune” and “victory” for me and this particular afternoon was no different.  Interestingly, Warren Buffet once said about gambling that, in general, it is a “tax on stupidity”,  thankfully, I did not remain “stupid” for long, although I certainly did pay a “tax” LOL!!  Finally, an hour before we were to leave, I discovered a real treasure………the roulette machine.  Way more fun for me than the coin eating slots.  I put $20 in and an hour later I was only down $10!!!!   That is how victory in a casino is measured for us Clarks…..not by how much $ we have won, but how little $ we have lost!!  Mom always claimed that she was waiting for her ship to come in…..it was just too bad that it happened to be the Titanic!  And Dad once famously told Bobby one year, that he should not worry about his employment situation….there was, after all, a light at the end of the tunnel….it was just too bad for Bobby that it was a train!!!!  And everyone wonders where my “glass half-empty” had its origins!!

The gallery above reflects a morning at the bookstore with the “dynamic duo”.  After Mayce and Josh had scoured through the rows and rows of books, they spied the stuffed animal display and began to move the animals from their shelves and gradually became lost in a world of make-believe!  I had been browsing in another aisle, and when I looked over I saw this strange alignment of stuffed dogs faced as though they were actually reading what was in front of them.  I asked what the dogs were doing on the floor and it was explained that the dogs had become sick and so Mayce and Josh had taken them to the vet and had placed the dogs in the “waiting room”.  LOL  Eventually, the “dynamic duo” retrieved the “healed” dogs and then ventured to remove practically every small stuffed animal from its respective shelf and proceeded to create a special “zoo” for them.  I have to say, that it does not take a very innovative individual to entertain these two……..they both have very elaborate imaginations and being around them makes me smile and reminds me to appreciate the simple joys of living!

I see that I am running over my self-imposed allotment of 1200 words/per post, but a lot happens in the life of a “nut”…….I am thinking that I need a Miss Wormwood (Calvin’s teacher) to keep me on track!!  There is still so much more that I want to document and share, and so I will try to condense the rest into a slideshow:

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Before I hit “publish” I would like to share an incident which Christopher encountered when he was leaving the adoration chapel a few weeks ago.  We have at Immaculate Conception a Eucharistic devotion (ours is a Perpetual Adoration, meaning twenty-four hours, seven days a week) whereby parishioners commit to taking a specific hour to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.  The gentleman who takes the hour following Christopher’s is the father of a one of Chris’ former I.C. classmates.  We are casual acquaintances, but he is familiar with our family situation and knows Crick’s journey of four years ago.  Anyway, as Christopher was opening the door to the chapel to leave, this person, uncharacteristically, asked Chris, “Talking to your Dad, were you?”  When Christopher shared this with me, he told me that the really curious thing that got to him, was that he actually had been talking to Crick that night.  Peace and comfort come to each of us in many ways when we have endured the loss of a loved one……I have encountered many such incidents in the past few years, and each time my faith in a loving, compassionate, just and merciful God has grown deeper and stronger.  I read this a few days ago…it seems appropriate:

Heaven is both present and future.  As you walk along your life-path holding My hand, you are already in touch with the essence of heaven:  nearness to Me.  You can also find many hints of heaven along your pathway, because the earth is radiantly alive with My Presence.  Shimmering sunshine awakens your heart, gently reminding you of My brilliant Light.  Birds and flowers, trees and skies evoke praises to My holy Name.  Keep your eyes and ears fully open as you journey with Me.

At the end of your life-path is an entrance to heaven.  Only I know when you will reach that destination, but I am preparing you for it each step of the way.  The absolute certainty of your heavenly home gives you Peace and Joy, to help you along your journey.  You know that you will reach your home in My perfect timing; not one moment too soon or too late.  Let the hope of heaven encourage you, as you walk along the path of Life with Me.                                    Jesus Calling  

Just as all die in Adam, so in Christ all will be brought to life; but all of them in their proper order:  Christ the first-fruits, and next, at His coming, those who belong to Him.                                  1 Corinthians 15:22-23

That. Really. Is. All.

TNT

TGW

Channeling from Beyond????

calvin and politics

As you might imagine, when I am not preoccupied with a varying array of family matters, I  have been quite busy filling these dreary, cold, endless Ohio winter days poring over an assortment of political articles.  The truly annoying part of being somewhat of an OCD personality, is that even when I am fully aware that the more that I learn about the problems in our government and in our culture the more distressed I become…….I still feel compelled to know more of that which makes me anxious!  LOL……clearly, I am a certifiable “nut”!!    Now why am I envisioning Crick peeking through the Ohio clouds with a huge grin on his face???!!!

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10922613_10204719570562800_6393564702639818612_nSpeaking of the devil :)……the grandchildren celebrated his birthday by once again writing messages to Crick on individual balloons and then, at nightfall, sending them up into the sky.  They all seem to look forward to this now annual birthday remembrance as a comforting acknowledgement of his presence still among us. Their messages called to mind not only a mutual love, but also the teasing brand of humor he foisted upon them, as well as an appreciation of the moon, the stars and the planets which he, via his telescope, so often shared with them.  I often wonder what life would be like around this house on TGIFriday afternoons if Crick were here to add to the chaos (somewhat of a terrifying image……picturing him lying on the floor in the middle of the living room while he has a slew of grandkids walking on his back, giggling and screaming, falling all over each other while I watch and wait for the inevitable injury to take place!!!).  I must admit that I have witnessed some of his rambunctious, teasing, provocative nature in more than one of his grandchildren, so perhaps, he has been channeling them from beyond just to keep ME on my toes!!  It has been a challenge, at times, this winter to find indoor activities that will entertain such a diverse age group.  Therefore, in an attempt to tap into the creative side of a couple of the grandkids who have shown a particular aptitude for resourcefulness, I handed them a camera and a tripod and sent them down to the TV room (better known around here as the “basement” (which I consider one step up from being designated a “cellar” for it does contain a carpet, a sofa and a TV!!) and challenged them to produce a video.  This met with resounding success as they spent the better part of two Friday afternoons pulling it all together.  I was invited to a preview this past week as Luke was preparing to edit some scenes and I have to give them credit….a few of those scenes showed some interesting creativity!!!  LOL

On another Friday, when things were starting to “heat up” (if you catch my drift), I separated a few of them by sitting them down with papers and pencils and proposed that they draw blueprints of their dream home.  From these few samples, you can see which amenities figured most prominently in their design features!

While the sports enthusiasts among us are currently engrossed in my most favorite of all sports’ seasons……..college basketball………we here in Ohio are still savoring the ever so sweet victory of the football Bucks over the Ducks in the NCAA National Championship Play-Off.  Bobby put together an impromptu play-off pool for the family for which there was no entry fee (he probably figured he would never see the money anyway!!  ha, ha).  He did, moreover, generously offer to supply the first, second, and third prize winners with OSU sportswear, and he even awarded a “booby” prize (courtesy of Clark cousin, Mary) to the last place “winner”….. Christine!!!!  (As publisher of this blog, I hereby grant myself bragging rights to note that my entry came in second, narrowly missing the first place prize to niece, Tori!!)

I was recently asked to join our Immaculate Conception Parish’s Centennial Committee in preparation for the 100 anniversary of the Consecration of the church which will be celebrated in 2016.  I suppose they were looking for “older” parishioners who had a long history at I.C.  I qualified on both counts!!!  Since Jimmy began 1st grade at I.C. in the fall of  1953 through today, the Clark family has had an unbroken succession of family members attending the school. And so, in pursuit of memorabilia to provide the committee, I have been delving back into the “archives” of photos which are currently stored haphazardly in numerous unmarked plastic containers (my one concession a few years ago to “organizing” pictures was to move them from cardboard shoe boxes to plastic containers!!!).  I am slowly scanning some of these photos, but I have simply transferred the disorganization to my laptop…..the only concession I made to organizing on the computer is that they are uploaded into folders according to the month that I scanned them……..I know, I know…….a very poor system.  The reason I am giving you this back story is to showcase this gem I discovered from my kindergarten days at Glenmont Elementary.  I discovered that I have saved every report card from kindergarten through my junior year in high school…..for some reason, I have not found the one from my senior year……not sure why it would be missing as that should have been a “good” year for me as I didn’t have to take a math course!!!  Anyway, it was my kindergarten report card that really caught my eye, particularly the “days absent” report.  Newly enlightened, I now realize that truly the apple does not fall far from the tree!!   To further explain……as pre-school was not prevalent back in the 70’s, kindergarten was for many children, a brand new away from home experience.  Of our four kids, Megan and Stephanie were the most resistant (a.k.a terrified/willful LOL) to the idea of being away from home for even a few hours…..I remember chasing Megan around an old air hockey table we once owned and just when I thought I had her in my grasp, she broke away and scrambled underneath and sat in the middle of the table until I got down on all fours and crawled after her.  Having observed the trauma of watching Megan’s failure to elude going to school, Stephanie tried a different tactic………she waited until it was time to get out of the car (in front of countless Moms whose children were all sweetness and smiles as they waited patiently in line!) and then she would begin to cry profusely and endlessly, her eyes spewing huge crocodile tears, her face turning ever-changing colors of pink and red as she clung with death-like tenacity to my hand/arm/leg/jacket.  All the while, I am struggling to get her to steps of the school so that her long-suffering teacher could help to pry her away from me and proceed with the “well parented” children into the classroom.  Now I suppose Jenn, Meg, Steph and Chris will read this and swear that their real fear of school came only from a sense of panic and dread that when the school bell rang at the end of the day, they would be left standing in the school yard as the last, lone, forgotten student.  I will therefore confess that on a few occasions, I was just a wee bit late in returning to school to pick them up.  But sheesh……their teachers always managed to persuade them (often with a reassuring lollipop) that their Mom always, always, always came back to get them!!

This past month the Schultheis card group managed to get together for another fun-filled evening of poker and……..my family favorite……..”pass the trash”.  Judy and Bill came up from Cincinnati for the evening and per usual, they cleaned us all out and then left for home!!  Bill’s presence certainly helps to fill the void that our little card group feels without the “Hardy Boys” (Crick and Mark) around…….poor Jay……those two left him stuck with all the women!!

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There is definitely nothing quite like family and friends to soothe our weary minds and souls…….whenever I am feeling tired, down, stressed or out-of-sorts, I know I am only a phone call or a card game (LOL) away from those who are always ready to fill my “glass half-empty” to overflowing with their laughter, their encouragement, and most of all, their love.

This curiously ties right into one of the readings at Mass today and the homily given by our good friend, Bud who happens to be the Deacon of our parish.   I couldn’t help but feel a sense of unanimity with the Scripture passage of Job 7: 3-7

 I have months of futility assigned to me, nights of suffering to be my lot.  Lying in bed I wonder, ‘When will it be day?’ No sooner up than, ‘When will evening come?’ And crazy thoughts obsess me till twilight falls.  Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle my days have passed, and vanished, leaving no hope behind.  Remember that my life is but a breath, and that my eyes will never again see joy.

Obviously, Job did not have the benefit of Crick shaking him out of his despair by his single pronouncement to, “Just be glad that you were able to wake up and put two feet on the floor”! Job did however, and more importantly, have his faith and while it was constantly and severely tested by Satan as the 42 chapters of Job reveal; Job eventually learned to continue to trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses.  This kind of trusting, however, did not come naturally to Job.  It was for him a spiritual crisis of the will in which Job had to consciously choose to exercise his faith.  Bud explained that in the exercise of our faith, we can choose either the almost despairing attitude of Job reflected in this chapter, or we can choose to embrace the philosophy championed in a poem from which he read the following:

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church….a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.                                                       Charles R Swindoll 

Do you suppose that Crick felt that he had been living, for all of our married years, with a modern-day Job????  Do you suppose he is wondering when he is going to be proclaimed a saint????  Was he channeling Bud from beyond today to read the poem, Attitude????  Is that why I had the feeling at Mass that “someone’s” eyes were burning a hole in my head????  Was he channeling me from beyond and that is that why I had a dream about him last night????  Uummmmmmmm

Questions to ponder…………TNT

TGW