Thursday, January 27, 2011

A void inside a void....nothingness

Have you ever had an "empty feeling" moment in your life?  I recently heard that phrase used during a TV news anchor's interview with a relative of one of the Arizona shooting victims.  It made me pause and think about the empty feeling moments that I have had in my life.  I'm sure you know those moments....they go hand in hand with "heartache" moments and "gut-wrenching" moments.  When these moments happen in my life, I feel an overwhelming emptiness that starts behind my left ribcage and radiates all the way into the pit of my stomach.  It feels like something has been ripped out of your heart and left a void about the size of a football field.  I sometimes think I have had more than my share of those moments because I have battled depression most of my adult life...but that's another story for another day.

They are a sense of darkness, these moments fact, they occur because of the loss of something in your life that you hold dear.  The very first memory I have of such a feeling, I was only seven years old and sitting on the steps at the side entrance of my elementary school.  During recess, we all noticed that there was a huge cloud of smoke outlined in a red glow north of the school about two or three miles away.  Even as a first grader, I knew the direction of my house and a little sick feeling started creeping over me.  Forty- five minutes later, when a neighbor showed up to pick me and my sister up from school, the feeling deepened.  As we drove by where my house had just been that morning, a pile of rubble and one lone rocking chair with the charred remains of a doll sitting near the road was all that was left of my once happy home.  That empty feeling stayed with me awhile.

The next one that I remember was sitting in French class my sophmore year in high school and hearing the principal announce the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  A deep loss was felt by our entire nation that day - the whole country grieved for the loss of the man and the loss of an innocence that our great country has yet to find again.... that void has never been filled.

As we get older, our lists grow longer.  I could expound on each of the following, but it would be a book versus a blog......
  • the loss of my Mom and Dad, my two brothers and my sister - each left an irreplaceable hole in my heart.
  • a brief separation in our marriage
  • weak moments in my faith
  • the Space Shuttle "Challenger" disaster resulting in the death of  Christa McAuliffe and the other astronauts aboard
  • the terrorist attacks of 9/11
  • a mammogram scare
  • the critical illness and near death of my best friend Marlene
  • and especially the abuse or death of any child
Loss is a natural part of life, but it's never easy.  Some of these are my own personal losses and some are the empathy I feel for others on their losses.  As difficult as these moments are, I am grateful that I feel the pain of others.  Without God in my life I'm convinced that I would not feel their emptiness.   Slowly over time, God helps fill these voids with things like the birth of grandchildren, the love of friends, but especially the healing power of His hands.  Without faith, how would we get through these moments in our lives?  Pretty soon we would just waste away.....a void inside a nothingness.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Eeny Meeny Miny Mo - what can stay and what must go.....

Last night as I was making a list of all the things I need to get done this week, I had another one of those revelations that I mentioned in my post, Blame it on Mama.  I looked at the list and asked myself, " Really, Glenda - how much of this stuff will you actually do?"  "Uhhh...maybe half of it....?" I answered.  For years on Sunday evenings, I have faithfully made a little list - sometimes a mental list, but most times on paper - of appointments, house tasks, meetings, errands and other stuff that are important to me at the time.  The next Sunday evening about half the stuff I had planned for the prior week goes right back on my list again. 

This list making was pretty necessary when I had a full-time job.  I have a calendar, but the calendar gets a little crowded when you schedule the mundane things like - clean toilets - Wednesday - 8:14 a.m.  The calendar is saved for things like: Gen - Bus Stop -Monday and Tuesday, 2:15 p.m.; Church supper - Sunday, 6:00 p.m.;  VW Woman's Club - Thursday, 7:00 p.m.; Kids & grandkids over - Saturday, 5:00 p.m.; and TV.. American Pickers - Monday, 9:00 p.m. (can't miss that show).  Now back to the list -  finish chapter 4 in my book looks more like finish Chapter 4 in my book at the end of the week. Same with clean out hallway closet, organize shelves in office, find ways to make more money, and the list goes on.

So, I'm finding the time to do the necessary things and ignoring the others?  What does this mean?   I have always been busy, busy, busy - even if I am just spinning my wheels which I often do.  For the first time in my life, I think I am finally realizing that rarely does a person accomplish everything he sets out to do in life and I'm accepting that I may not finish my book until I'm 75, I may never clean out my attic (who's going to know anyway).  Does this mean that I'm totally giving up on those things?  No, it just means that from now on I'll be setting more realistic goals.  I'll continue doing the important things as highlighted above.  Maybe I'll stop stressing when I have to mark things off my list.  Heck, I may not even make a list anymore.  Ahhh....maybe this means that I'm finally realizing the meaning of retirement.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Let's blame it on Mama..............

Those of you who have dropped in on me unexpectedly from time to time know that I am not Ms. Suzy Homemaker.   And those who know me well know that I am a master at placing blame for my inefficiencies on other people.  Well, I have always blamed my messy housekeeping on my mother.  I was always the “outside” worker in my family.  It was my job to help in the garden, mow the grass – feed and water the animals, etc.  My mother didn’t particularly enjoy housekeeping either so we had a house cleaner, Miss Josie, who came in on Saturdays - and it took us the rest of the week to find what she did with all our stuff.

I can remember going for sleepovers at friend’s houses and we all had to pitch in to wash the dinner and breakfast dishes.  I very rarely had to do that at home .  The dishes just always seemed to get magically washed sometime between bedtime and breakfast.  On Saturday mornings, under stern instructions from Miss Josie, I did have to pick up my room and put all the dirty laundry in the hamper.  “Girl - you ought’a be ashamed o’ yourself, piling up those dirty clothes like that – don’t yore mama teach you nothin’!”  I can just hear her say it now.  So logically, it was my mother’s fault for not teaching me to clean house.

But recently I had a revelation, which I have quite often now that I’m retired.  Not the Biblical kind of revelation but like the revelation of realizing that the job you held for almost 30 years will not crash just because you left – or like the revelation that not working means you can’t spend as much money – you know, those minor little things.  Well, anyway, it hit me that I only lived in my Mom and Dad’s house for 18 years and I have lived in my own for 45.

Children do learn by observing the adults in their lives.  But we have plenty of time in our adult lives to learn what we need to know.  Maybe I’m just a slow learner. Whose fault is it anyway that I haven’t learned how to keep a clean, organized house?  You’re off the hook Mama - and you did teach me how to love, laugh and be a good mother so you did OK!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Parkwood High Class of '66 - this one's for you....

Recently, several of us from our Class of 1966 got together for an impromptu lunch.  We spent a couple of hours talking and reminiscing, but mostly just enjoying each other's company.  Four of us have kept in close contact throughout the years, but the other two, I had only recently reconnected with on FB.  It was as if we had gone back in time a few years - we instantly picked up right where we left off 45 years ago.  Our generation who embraced the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Mamas and the Papas and all those wonderful bands of the 60's will always be young at heart.  In our minds, we each still feel 17 - and I'm sure each of us could still do The Twist and the Locomotion  if push came to shove.

Each one of us has had our personal trials.  We've lost parents, we've had health issues with either ourselves or our spouses... and we've lost friends.  When I look at a yearbook, I count the friends from our graduating class that are no longer with us.  All died way too early in life - Sammy in his late teens and a husband and wife couple, Rita and David in their late 40's - early 50's.  And several others.

I learned that day how much we all have in common.  We all have children and spouses that we love; we care deeply about the welfare of others; and most important, we are all Christians.  We are strong women - women of our generation have helped change the world and have made it a better place.  Each line on our face is a testament to how much we have given others and each smile line is proof of how much we have been given.

I love my high school friends - Marlene, Linda, Brenda, Sandy and Vicki.  We will keep in touch and add more friends to our lunch dates along the way. God bless you all.

Welcome to "Beautiful Downtown Van Wyck"

A lot of my blog readers have never heard of our sleepy little village of Van Wyck, South Carolina, bordering the Catawba River and located about halfway between Lancaster, SC and Pineville, NC.  The old timers here have tried to keep it a secret all of their lifetimes so it will retain it's warmth and charm.  Then you have the newcomers like me who go and blab about how wonderful it is and before you know it, you will have swarms of people living in here breaking up the monotony of the days. We've been here going on fifteen years, but yes, we're still considered newcomers.  Heck, Henry and I alone have increased the population of the village by seven since we've been here.  Our daughter, Krista and her family moved here shortly after we did - and recently Dave's father, Ken became a full time resident.  All we need now is get our other daughter and family to move here and we will be "self contained".  We do need to curb the growth though, so when I tell you what a wonderful life we have here, please - shhh, keep it to yourselves.

 If you google "population, Van Wyck, SC" you will find it in It gives the following information: Van Wyck, South Carolina is part of Lancaster County. Population for Van Wyck from the last gathering is 7059. You can view Van Wyck venues that host many Van Wyck SC events every year. Currently Van Wyck has an average listing price for homes for sale on the market of $514,000. This compares to the Lancaster County average of $183,542.  Van Wyck South Carolina has a latitude of 34.8583 and a longitude of -80.8461. Van Wyck zip codes include 29744.     I was flabergasted to learn that the population for Van Wyck was so large.  I was going to estimate about 300 - I would love to know where the other 6759 people live.  They don't live on my street.  Of course we do have what we call "Van Wyck" and then there's "Beautiful Downtown Van Wyck" where we live. 

One of the advantages of living in Van Wyck is our night life.  If you're looking for bars, fine restaurants, fireworks, etc., you may want to look elsewhere.  But take a look at one of our "event" calendars published in our church bulletin, and you will see what an exciting life we lead.  There's Van Wyck Woman's Club on the 1st Thursday night of each month which, by the way, you have to have an invitation to join in case you were thinking of popping in on us sometime :-).  Then, there's the Community Watch / Crime Prevention meeting on the 1st Tuesday night of each month - it's free for all.  There's Van Wyck Presbyterian Women's meeting on the 3rd Tuesday night, Presbyterian Men on the third Wednesday night, Yoga at the Presbyterian Church every Monday night and exercise classes every Monday and Wednesday mornings.  We have our huge annual event, the Celebrate Van Wyck Festival, our annual community yard sale, and we're the hometown of gold medal Olympian Shawn Crawford.   And if you belong to a small church like ours, you are on at least three committees which meet at least once a month.  I mean we have meetings just to schedule other meetings!  You can see why my calendar stays full and why I, uh.... have to turn down so many of your social invitations.

But wait, I've really gotten off my subject matter here.  I was going to tell you about all the good food we have at some of those meetings.  Last night was our Presbyterian Women meeting.  We have tried to make rules to only have light snacks at these meetings, but everyone ignores them.  No one wants to be the first to break the tradition.  One of the native Van Wyckians, Betty Broome, was in charge of refreshments last night.  The menu was her famous homemade chicken salad sandwiches, roasted pecans, grapes, and homemade key lime pie.  I think there were some other things too, but I tried real hard not to look at what she served because I'm on the infamous diet.  I didn't even get a plate.  I put four grapes and four toasted pecans on my napkin - pitiful!  When it's my turn to serve, I'm going to abide by the rules.  Camille told me I should serve sugar-free jello.  I can just see the headlines of the fictional Van Wyck Press now - Newcomer to Van Wyck- run out of town on a rail by angry mob for serving Jello at a Circle meeting."  Huh - uh Camille, you're always trying to get me in trouble.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gumby and Pokey ride again

Since I haven't written anything about the old South Beach diet in the last week, I'm sure everyone thinks I blew it.  I'm happy to report that I did not!  I have been true and blue and on this 12th day, I am eight pounds lighter - those old scales say I weigh 125 pounds - and they must be accurate because twelve days ago they said I weighed 133 pounds...... and if you believe that, I have some land in the desert that I'll be glad to sell you. 

But really - I am 8 pounds lighter - that's almost two five pound bags of sugar!  It's not that I can really see the difference that much...but I can feel the difference - and I can get into jeans that I had put in the back of the closet because they kept laughing at me each time I opened the door.  I'm sure they were amused that each time  I've put them on lately, I've had to wriggle and twist into shapes that would make Gumby jealous in order to get them zipped.  By the way, does anyone under 50 even know who Gumby is?   He was a little bendable, posaeble guy invented back in the 50's. Santa brought me Gumby & Pokey for Christmas one year.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Me too, too.

It is with great sadness that I write this post.  Five year old Makayla Woodward was attacked and killed yesterday by two pit bulls owned by her next door neighbor.  Makayla's grandmother was critically injured trying to protect the child.  I didn't personally know Makayla or her grandmother, but I do know several family members and this family will never recover from this.  How could they?

The day that Makayla was killed by the pit bull, I found news reports of two other children attacked in the United States on this same day by pit bulls, January 12, 2011.  A 10 year old boy  in Vallejo, CA was mauled  requiring over 100 stitches in his leg - and in Palm Bay, Florida a 5 year old boy was mauled -  crushing facial bones and one ear partially ripped off. 

There are laws in place in some states, counties and communities that require "responsible ownership" of aggressive dog types. In fact, the county I live in, Lancaster County, SC has a vicious animal ordinance - requiring Pit Bulls and Rottweilers to be confined inside a house or within the confines of a chain link fence - but there was a pit bull within 100 feet of my house today - no leash, no fence - simply running free.  I called Animal Control but these laws are rarely enforced.  The town that Makayla lived in has a similar ordinance.  The owner of the dog had been warned and neighbors had complained repeatedly; however Makayla's little body lies cold - never to live or laugh again.  These ordinances simply do not work.  I'm not sure that there is such a thing as responsible ownership of an animal that is capable of killing a human being.

Owners of these animals are in constant denial that their dog could do such a heinous thing.  There are websites defending these animals.  There is even a YouTube video that is titled "Pit Bull Viciously attacks Baby".  When you click on it, it shows dozens of pictures of innocent little babies less that a year old, being licked and "loved" by their family pet - a pit bull.  The video's purpose is to show you how "sweet and gentle" these dogs are with babies. I found the video appalling!  These babies have no choice but to lie there with the dog - how quickly could this parent get the dog off the child if it were to have one hair trigger response and decide it wanted to kill the baby.  It is reprehensible that a parent would care so much about a dog that he/she would take even the remotest chance with their child's welfare.  Pit bull owners, please wake up before it's too late.  Take a look at the following link (blogspot) for what these "sweet and gentle" beasts have done and the blog is by a former pit owner who's dog turned on him. Copy and paste the link into your browser bar:  - however, if you are squeamish, you may not want to look.

In all fairness (if you can be fair to a pit bull), pit bulls are not the only dangerous breed of dog - there are also rottweilers, dobermans and even some crazy chows are known to attack and maul.  But the highest number of attacks and deaths are by the pit bull type.  I have spent the last two days doing  research and pit bulls are hands down the biggest killers.
A 2009 report issued by shows that 19 dog breeds contributed to 88 deaths in a recent 3-year period. Pit bulls accounted for 59% followed by rottweilers with 14%. Of the 88 fatal dog attacks recorded by, pit bull type dogs were responsible for 59% (52). Even the pit lovers can't argue the facts.  This is equivalent to a pit bull type killing a United States citizen every 21 days during this three year period.  It is what it is.

There are many aggressive wild animals and reptiles in the world.  The United States alone has mountain lions, grizzly bears, alligators, wolves and even coyotes are considered dangerous around children. But these are animals that you encounter in areas that are known to have a concentration of them and we know to beware. It's different when we are attacked in our own backyards - especially innocent children who have no fear and innocent parents who don't know that there are threats lurking around the corner.  For instance, the next door neighbor who keeps his animals inside, but just that "one time" lets the animal outside without a leash.  We lost six beautiful pet chickens to a neighbor who did just that. They didn't deserve to die that way.  And we almost lost a grandchild to a neighbor's "sweet" family pit bull who had one minute been playing with their niece inside and within seconds had run out their door to our daughter's backyard making a vicious, growling run for our six-year old sweet Genevieve. If their family eskimo spitz had not intervened and my daughter's husband had not been at home, she would have been another statistic. He had the presence of mind to run for his gun. The animal is no longer alive but thank God, my grandchild is.

Out of all my research and the words I have written here, with one short sentence my husband just summed it up much better than I have with all these paragraphs. I should have let him write the blog:

"It makes me so mad - that pretty little girl - dead - over a mangy-assed dog. It's sickening!".  Me too, too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Cats in the Cradle and a Silver Spoon.....

Every night at bedtime, its "play hide and seek with the cat" and I'll bet you can't guess who's hiding.  Cello is a warm weather "outside" cat and a cold weather "resigned to the laundry room with the door closed" cat.  After a shower and brushing teeth (my teeth, not the cat's) I start my nightly ritual.  "Henry, have you seen the cat?"  "Not lately, the last time I saw him he was curled up in the blanket basket."  I start with all his favorite snuggle spots - the basket beside the TV, then on to the stash of Ebay boxes in the office, then to the sunroom and if I haven't found him by then, I go get the cat food bag and start shaking it all around the house.  That cat food bag usually does the trick - that cat loves to eat.

 Tonight after going through all his regular hang-outs and the cat food trick, still no cat to be found.  Thinking he may have breached his cold weather contract, I opened the outside door and called him to no avail.  If I wanted to get a good nights sleep without Cello jumping in our bed in the middle of the night kneading his huge paws in the middle of my stomach, I know I'd better do a clean sweep of the house.  Open closet doors, no Cello.  Look under beds, no Cello.  Look under the sofa and the dining room table, still no Cello.  Go upstairs where he rarely goes, don't see Cello.

Ah ha!  I remember putting some Christmas boxes in the attic this morning - so I open attic door and hear a purring noise somewhere in the deep dark depths of my spooky attic.  Remember this is the same upstairs where Jim the resident ghost usually hangs out.  You really don't want to go in my attic.  It's full of relics from past lifetimes - I usually stuff something in there and then shut the door real quick.  I tried calling Cello, he didn't answer.  I did this "kitty, kitty, kitty" scratch, scratch, scratch thing that we do when we're playing cat & mouse, he didn't respond.  But I still hear a snoring sound, so I bravely get a flashlight and start moving boxes.  There he is!  He has his great big cat body stuffed into a little wooden toy cradle that the girls used for their dolls when they were little. I wish I could say that I had my stash of silver spoons stored in the cradle so that I could live up to the title of this blog, but this is a true story so I can't add any embellishments. Since he was so sacked out, I just carried him, cradle and all to the laundry room.  Get some good z-z-z's Cello.  Maybe you'll dream about "little boy blue and the man in the moon".

If you're over the hill, why not enjoy the view?

The messages on church marquis signs are supposed to provoke thought and this one got my attention. "If you're over the hill, why not enjoy the view?"  I read it aloud to Henry and we both came up with different ideas on what we thought it meant and I started thinking about the many people who drive by those signs and just what they think when they read them.  Below are some of our thoughts:
For instance, a recently retired person (like me) might think that once she retired, she would do all the things she had dreamed of - traveling,  snuggling up on the sofa with a good book , join exercise classes, volunteer, etc.  At least in this economy, a reality check sets in.   With gas over $3 per gallon now and steadily rising, there’re a lot of us who will put travel plans on hold for awhile.  Instead of reading a good book or volunteering, I'll sit down at the computer to sell on-line trying to make a few extra dollars to make up for the income we're losing with Henry's business off.   Heck, even our hobby that turned into a job will be affected by gas prices – unless we just move down to the beach for the summer which may not be a bad idea.  We thought we would be "enjoying the view" at this time with more relaxing things.
Then there are the people who are always in a rush.  They rush to advance their careers, make more money, have a family,etc.  When they finally reach their goal, instead of sitting back enjoying what they have, they rush to have more, and more, and more.  The family they rushed to have are left to fend for themselves - they buy their children material things to keep them occupied rather than spending time with them.  They aren’t satisfied with the career move that can give them a comfortable lifestyle - they have to keep on moving up and making more money.  It's a vicious cycle - going up the hill but not taking the time to enjoy the view.
Eventually every one of us will be “over the hill”.  What we do when we get there will be the test of our true character.  We can sit back and whine about our aches and pains or we can get out there and live.  We can enjoy looking back on our accomplishments, but best of all, we can look to see what is to come.  We may not have a very long future left, but we can spend it wisely.  Enjoy our family and friends.  Impart the wisdom that has come to us from life’s experiences to those we love.  Give of our time and talents to our churches and communities.  Help those who are less fortunate than we are.  I think that’s what God intends us to do with our lives.  Traveling, snuggling with good books, etc., doesn’t quite seem so important anymore to those of us who have God in our lives.  Enjoying what God has in store for us does.  If you’re over the hill, enjoy the view – God’s view.  He has many plans in store for you.  Just stop long enough to listen.  And by the way, what does that message on the church marquis mean to you?  I would love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Where is the dessert?

Day 2: South Beach Diet.  Day 2 was a little easier for me and I do mean was, not is because right now, I'm obsessed with dessert. On the South Beach you live for your night time desserts.  You remember how Henry and I fought over the last bite of sugar free jello last night?  We did not fight over the last bite of our desserts tonight - as a matter of fact, I only ate a bite or two of mine and tried to pawn the rest off on him like I was making a big sacrifice.  He gave me the "I know you are up to something" look.  I never share my food - never.  It was a recipe from the South Beach book called Mocha Ricotta Creme'. I've had the Lemon Zest Ricotta Creme before and it wasn't half bad, but I figured with chocolate, it would be better - big mistake. I bought fat-free ricotta thinking it would be more beneficial that the part-skim that the recipe called for - the texture was weird, yucky and tasteless - won't be trying that again anytime soon.

But all in all, it was a good day.  I had a small piece of sausage, an egg, and some low-fat cheese for breakfast - then a Turkey sandwich made with a slice of turkey between two lettuce leaves for lunch (it's flimsy with no bread).  Then a delicious dinner.  Greek seasoned chicken breast sauteed in olive oil, lima beans and a green salad - yummy!

I know that all this talking about diet food is making everyone hungry - by now all of you are thinking of rushing to the grocery store to buy ricotta and jello. We've come a long way from the pies, cakes, cookies, brownies and M&M's from last week.

The lack of dessert has not curbed my appetite, but it has played havoc with my creativity. The words are not flowing, the brain is numb, I have no energy and my stomach is whispering to me "I think there's still an unopened bag of Christmas M&M's somewhere in the kitchen cabinet".  I'll avoid that cabinet, but I'm goin' in the kitchen to make some more jello so we'll have something to fight about tomorrow night.  I think I'll make peach. be continued.... 

Would rather be on a beach in South Florida than on the South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet was the brainchild of Dr. Arthur Agatston, a Miami cardiologist.  He designed this diet for his patients who were overweight to lose weight before having heart surgery and also as a preventative for cardio problems.  For those of you who know anything about this diet, you know that the first two weeks are a drag.  The "can't haves" far outnumber the "can haves".  But, after about the fourth day, the "can't haves" don't hold the same appeal anymore.  You are breaking your addiction to bad carbs --- and it really works.

When you have subsisted for most of your life on potatoes, breads and pastas, this seems like a daunting challenge.  But once that connection to bad carbs has been broken, it's really a pretty easy diet to follow. During the second phase, it's actually a pretty flexible diet.  You add back some good carbs and just resign yourself to the fact that the bad carbs will have to be thrown out the window.

Half the battle of following any diet is preparation, mindset and convincing your spouse to go on it with you.  I spent years failing on diets because I was not prepared with all the right foods, or I had not had the right mindset - but mostly because Henry sabotaged my diet by eating luscious looking foods in front of me.  I'll have to give him credit though, he has begun to support my diets and actually giving them a try. When I went on the South Beach 6 years ago, he went along for the ride and lost 30 pounds.  He was lookin' good!!!  This time he is following the rules also - he even cooked a South Beach breakfast this morning.

Yesterday was DAY ONE - the first day is the hardest because you are not far enough into it that you can't just call it quits when you have an unrequited hunger attack!  We both fought off those attacks with a few almonds, a hunk of low fat cheese - and you should have seen us fight over the last bite of sugar-free jello last night at bedtime.

I'm proud to report that we made it - and I feel good about today.  Hopefully we can see some results this week.  If not, at least we're eating healthier - and oh, I threw out the last of the Orange Slice Candy Cake that kept calling our names.

Will keep you posted on our be continued.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Missing Joe

What is it about the holidays that make us so much more suceptible to grief?  I've had my brother on my mind so much this week.  I'm sure it's because he left this world so close to the holidays and his birthday was in December and it's the first Christmas that I haven't received a phone call from him. 
And all of sudden I'm beating myself up for not staying with him the night he died.  He died alone and for that I wish I could go back and change the decision I made to come back home from Durham that night. Why didn’t I stay….and why am I just now dealing with this? 
My relationship with Joe hit a few rocky spots over the years.  You really have to work at relationships when a sibling is 19 years older than you and was off at college when you were born and married shortly thereafter. I didn’t grow up living with him at all like most people do with their siblings. 
I loved his first wife, Johnnie.  They had no children and she (more than he) treated me like I was her child.  As a matter of fact, my sister recently told me that Johnnie begged my mother when I was born to let her adopt me and raise me as their own.  Then when I was 13,  their marriage fell apart.  Joe remarried as soon as their divorce was final.  My heart was broken – Johnnie’s heart was broken.  She dealt with it the best way she knew how – she withdrew from our whole family.  I carried the hurt and bitterness toward Joe around like excess baggage for many years.  Many years later when Johnnie came back into our lives as a friend, she urged me to forgive Joe.  She told me that she was partially to blame and went on to give some flimsy excuse why.  But with God’s help, and knowing that she still loved him and had forgiven him, I finally forgave.  .
We built a wonderful relationship from there and I learned to love him like a brother again.
Thank you Johnnie for giving me that.  Joe and Johnnie never quit loving each other but remained faithful to their second marriages.  The two of them are with each other again and with God – for they were both believers – they loved each other from a distance for all those years.  Joe later told me that he realized right away that he had made a mistake, but he couldn’t right a wrong with another wrong by leaving his second wife.
I can’t go back and change the decision that I made the night Joe passed away.  But I can move on and I can share with others to do what is in your heart and listen more closely to God’s wishes instead of trying to be reasonable.  A brother’s love defies reason.  But Joe would have forgiven me as Johnnie forgave him.  I love you Joe – breathe that fresh air in heaven that you could not get enough of here on earth with your broken lungs.

Fragile - I'm on a diet - DO NOT TOUCH....

I don't like New Year resolutions - mainly because I have never kept a single resolution that I have made on January 1st in my life.  Oh, I have tried, but I must admit that I've never been very committed - how can you be committed when you are coming down off of a Christmas High.  Christmas creates an adrenaline rush like no other time of the year.  I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to get a little depressed after all the lights and decorations are down.  I pack up each ornament in tissue like it's worth a thousand dollars and pack it in a box labeled: FRAGILE - Old Ornaments - DO NOT TOUCH!!!  I usually shed a tear or two as I'm putting my Precious Moments manger scene away.  And I personally tell each of my Santa collection figures "goodbye, old boy - see ya next year".  They go carefully in the attic - they are gone but not forgotten.

And then, I'm supposed to make a resolution?  Lose weight, start exercising, get organized, keep my house cleaner, blah blah blah.....  Well, I wanted to find out who started this stupid tradition in the first place, so I turned to my best friend, Mr. Google - he has all the answers.  The first recorded resolution stemmed from the Babylonians about 4000 years ago.  I've always thought of them as the evil ones -  always beating up on the Israelites.  Wouldn't you know they would be the ones to to start the odious New Year tradition of making commitments?  It seems like it all revolved around returning any borrowed farm equipment, as their New Year coincided with the start of their farming season.  The scenario probably played out something like this:  Meshach goes up to Shadrach and says, "Here's the plow I borrowed from you last year.  I bent the blade a little, but I'm sure it can be fixed".  Shadrach says "that's nothing, here's the rake I borrowed from you - I broke the handle off it, but I'm sure that too can be fixed".  Then they get in a fist fight and Abednego has to come and break it up.

Not long after that the Romans were the next recorded people to make resolutions.  Remember, they were pretty rotten to God's chosen people too.  They would count their stock at the end of the year and resolve to increase their stock in the coming year.  I can just picture those Roman guys walking around in their smelly wool togas and sandals counting their goats and sheep and bragging about how many more they would have next year.   No wonder we don't like to make resolutions - this practice was started by the bad guys.  It just seems plain wrong.

I am begrudgingly making a New Year's resolution starting Monday morning to lose 15 pounds on the South Beach diet.  For two long-g-g weeks, I will eat no potatoes, no bread, no pasta of any kind, no sugar, no fruit, no carrots, no tomatoes (because these last three have natural sugars).  After the first three or four days, it won't be quite so bad - I'll lose my cravings for all those things.  I've done this before so I know I can do it - but I remember how happy I was when those two weeks were up.  I could actually eat 3 chocolate covered strawberries - I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

I will post my ups and downs on my blog site.  I may be a tad grumpy and Henry has threatened to put a label on my forehead that says "FRAGILE - I'm on a diet - DO NOT TOUCH".