Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This and That

     I want to thank everyone for their kinds words and thoughts about the loss of our much loved Nike last week. It has been very different at our house without her. After 16 years of stepping out of the shower to find her waiting outside the bathroom door for me, it seems so odd not to have her there. Many of you have asked if Zoe has shown signs of missing Nike. I can only say that she looked for her the first few hours and then she started to "party, party" with the excitement of having the house to herself. She is a wild one and we just keep hoping that between the classes she will have in July and a bit of maturing she will settle down a bit.

     We didn't have any plans for the holiday weekend, which was nice because it was so hot here that I was glad I got to spend the heat of the day indoors. We spent Saturday looking for new carpet for the living room and the three bedrooms on the main floor of our house. We haven't shopped for carpet in a dozen years, so I had to do some research to even know what I might want. The past several months with a failing dog had sealed the deal on having to recarpet the house, so we have known that as soon as we lost her, carpet would be an immediate purchase. I had a bit of "sticker shock" when I saw the prices and I had lots of confusion about what material and brand to buy after reading reviews online. We finally decided on something that we both liked (at least in the sample) and now we just wait and hope that we like it when it covers so much of our house! There will certainly be pictures in a few weeks.

     While my husband was working on outdoor projects, I finally went through some old pictures and magazines that I have collected over the years. Some of the pictures my father-in-law gave me before he died, others I had picked up at garage sales. I had way too many and finally decided that all those craft projects I thought I would do with them, weren't going to happen. I put a few things so far on Ebay and still have the postcards and sheet music to get listed. I hadn't tried Ebay for quite a while even though I should do it more often. I have to push myself to list things. Once I get started though, I tend to stick with it for at least a few listings.

     We were talking over the weekend about a Memorial Day weekend a few years back when we went to visit my in-laws, who were living in Marion, IL at the time. I looked up the date and realized that today is the 30th anniversary of that day. On that afternoon, as we drove into Marion, the sky was dark and the weather looked ominous. As I told my husband yesterday, "the me I was back then, was very uncomfortable". The "me I am today, would have been screaming and yelling until he turned the car around"! You see, we drove into what we didn't know was a tornado. As we pulled into town, we saw many emergency vehicles and assumed there must be a large fire or wreck. We soon learned that there had been a massive tornado just minutes before we arrived in town. What I learned yesterday when I looked up the date of May 29th, 1982...was that it was a Category 4 tornado. As we pulled into town that day, we still had no idea of what we would see next. We noticed some damage and figured out it was a bad storm. We arrived at my in-laws to learn it was a tornado. We soon learned that the damage was extensive and that 10 people died and many more were injured. I wanted to head for home and the officials wouldn't let anyone in or out of town. It was frightening, but I was too young to realize just how lucky we were. Yesterday I read that a car on the interstate that we were on, exploded from the storm. I couldn't believe as I read yesterday just how unaware I was at what we drove into and how lucky we all were.

I hope you all had a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.
I will be getting around and visiting
your blogs in the next day or two!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

There Are Good Days, Bad Days and There Was Yesterday


     We knew it was coming, but that didn't make it easier. I thought that after losing 3 parents in the past two years, I knew horrible grief and this would be somehow different. I knew that she had lived longer than any dog I had ever known. I knew that she had been spoiled beyond belief and had the best life a dog could ever want. My brain knew all of that, but my heart did not.

     Her AKC paperwork shows her name as Nike, The Duchess of Air. Named by my children, who at 11 & 13 when she came to us, were just falling in love with the sport of running. To us, she was simply Nike. The runt of a litter of puppies from Indiana, found on the internet (I was high tech even in 1996) and fitting into my hand the day we brought her home. I thought a lot of that day yesterday, how she whimpered all the way home...how we stopped along the way to walk her, how she didn't stop shaking for about 3 days and mostly how she was immediately loved.

Nike in her prime (sorry kids)!

     She was a beautiful beagle, mostly brown and so well-behaved from the day we got her. My daughter said a few days ago that she wasn't her pet, she felt more like a sibling...and I think that was true for all of us. She was family, for 16 years. She was family when my kids were growing up. She was family after they left home. She was family through all of our ups and our downs, always the one to love unconditionally and to know just the right time to curl up in your lap and give you a moment of peace.

     We had hoped that she would pass away in her sleep. The past year we have seen her failing. The past four weeks have been really sad. She woke one morning to front legs that seemed weak and would barely support her, yet she still managed to stagger around the house. There have been days where she wouldn't eat or drink and days where we hand fed her bits of salmon. For the first time in a year, she wanted to be held again and I carried her around like a baby. She lost half her body weight in four weeks and yet she didn't give up. She wasn't in pain, so we tried to let her go on her own...but, when we carried her outside Tuesday morning and she fell over and couldn't get up...we just couldn't let it go on. Later that day, she was walking around again...but, we knew it was time.

Nike-Yesterday, in her favorite spot.

     We made arrangements to take her in at 4:30 yesterday afternoon. So, I tried to give her a really good day. I held her most of the day. We went outside and I laid her on a blanket in a sunbeam so she could feel the warmth of the sun and smell the grass. I fed her as many tiny biscuits as she wanted and one last bowl (bites) of salmon. We talked about all of the things that we had done over the years and I wept like a baby all day long. Losing Nike isn't at all like losing my mother...but, it was Nike that I held on to when I cried after losing my mom. It was Nike that curled up next to me for days on end a few years back when my son got off track and tried to drive us insane for a couple years. It was Nike who was my only friend when I moved to a new town and empty-nested at the same time. It was Nike who meant I was never truly alone. She was as much a part of this family as the rest of us and today, we grieve and are so thankful for having her in our lives for all these years. She was the "family dog" and while having Zoe (who at 9 months shows no signs of being nearly as well-behaved as her big sister) helps...she will be loved, but she will never be the dog of my children or the dog that shared all the memories of them growing up.

     The wonderful place where we board our dogs when we travel is located about 20 miles from our home, in the woods. It was a place that Nike loved and a place where she was loved. They have a pet cemetery and yesterday they were coming to pick her up at the vet to bury her there. We will visit in a few days. I hope she is running after squirrels and rabbits, nose high in the air and giving that beautiful beagle howl as loud as she can. Goodbye, sweet friend.

Monday, May 21, 2012

You Should Be Dancing!

Only in the 70's could you wear a halter top
for your engagement picture!

     I've been feeling a bit nostalgic lately. I have a high school class reunion coming up in June and for the past several months, members of my high school class that have "found" each other on Facebook have talked of little else. Every time I see a name added to the list of who is coming...I'm either flooded with memories OR I'm reaching for my senior yearbook to try to figure out who the person is!

     My high school class had 300 some people in it, and at this point we have around 100 actual class members (plus spouses) coming to the weekend event. There are names that aren't on the list that I wish were, people that I can't wait to see and people who really surprise me that they are coming. For someone like me, who left for college at 17 and basically didn't ever go back "home", it has been a real trip down memory lane as well as a brain teaser to put my head back that many years. The funny thing is that I really thought I knew everyone in my class and I know now that there were many people that I never knew at all (several of those will be at the reunion)! I know there are people who hate class reunions, but I can't wait. It is hard for me to understand why everyone (who can afford the travel expenses) doesn't want to hang out for a couple of days and find out what happened to the people that they started their lives with.

     I have found that time is the great equalizer. You can't live as long as we all have and not have faced wonderful highs and devastating lows in your life. We have had the joys of college, marriage, careers, children and grandchildren but along with that has come divorce, troubled kids and certainly at this time the loss of our parents. That seems to be happening weekly for our class. Back in high school, some of us were "popular" and some were invisible. Some of us came from wonderful homes and some were not so lucky. Rarely did the two groups cross paths. It simply doesn't matter anymore. As we look at the list of 30 classmates that we have lost over the years, I think most of us are simply glad to have survived!

     We may not still look exactly like the pictures. I have to add that I am still proud to have been a "charter member" of The Wavettes pom pom squad...which still exists today at MHS. Some of my class has gone gray, some have gained weight and some have faced illness that has changed how they look. I'd like to say that I don't care how I look at the reunion, but I'd be lying. I wish I'd lost a few pounds, I wish that I could wear a turtleneck and cover my neck which seems to be changing (not in a good way) daily...but, those things aren't going to happen. One of my friends posted a picture during his chemo session captioned  "getting well for the reunion" and I am so glad he is coming and so thankful that all I was worried about was a few pounds. I've read others who now have fought cancer, hearing issues, heart problems, trouble walking...and I count my blessings that at least for today, my biggest complaint is that my neck looks "old"!

     We were the generation before AIDS and the generation who thought smoking pot and drinking watered down beer was wild enough (I didn't even smoke pot). We didn't have the money for fancy trips, shots of hard liquor or expensive drugs.We worked in restaurants and gas stations during high school and were simply glad to be paid anything. Our weddings didn't have wedding planners, catered dinners and bachelor parties in the islands, followed by exotic honeymoons. We wore bell bottoms, wedge heels and tights...big earrings and high boots. I still love the fashion!

I actually had brown suede hot pants...

...and wedges with designs in them!

This was my school clothes look, lots of plaid kilt skirts
but usually with a matching blouse and sweater for me.

     Somewhere in this house is a dress exactly like the one above. My black "disco dress" from the 70's and I loved it. We even took disco lessons (it wasn't a good thing). I can't end this post without mentioning the other things that have made me nostalgic in the past few days. Most of us of my generation probably have a copy of the Saturday Night Fever sountrack in a box somewhere. There is no doubt that the music from the film is more than just a bunch of songs...it takes us back to a very special time. It was a time before most of us knew pain, loss or really anything bad in our lives. It was a time when anything was possible and we all had big dreams. In the past few days we have lost 2 of the voices of that time.

     Donna Summer was truly the voice of the disco era. We may all be a little hardened to the lyrics in today's music, but when she came out with Love to Love You Baby, it was shocking to us. She was gorgeous, talented and so different from anything we had heard before. You may want to listen and remember (or learn)!

     We also lost Robin Gibb, one of the Bee Gees, yesterday. I have always been a Bee Gees fan and for many years bought everything they released. Now, after starting with four brothers (including Andy) there is only one Gibb brother surviving. How sad.

     For those of you who remember these times, I hope this post made you smile. For those too young to remember...maybe you learned a little history lesson! For all of you, I would suggest that if you have lost contact with your high school class members...consider trying to reconnect. I hear people say, "I didn't like those people in high school, why would I want to see or talk to them now". I didn't have that experience, I really didn't dislike anyone in high school...however, there were people I didn't know well. I do know that now that it is a few decades later, the bond of growing up at the same time, in the same place with people who remember your parents and remember you before life changed us all...is something very special. It is a support system that you don't realize you have...and don't we all need that?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spring Greens!

     I got a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Mother's Day and I decided this morning that I really had to set the table "around them". When the flowers came, they actually had iris where you now see hydrangeas...such a sweet surprise. I didn't do anything fancy...just a simple luncheon table. The runner and fabric daisies were purchased on our trip at a place called Mr. Tablecloth (isn't that a blogger's dream shop). The dinner plates are Certified International, the salad plates are Now Designs and were purchased at Epcot a few years ago. Wm. Rogers flatware and garage sale wine glasses finish the look along with Pottery Barn hummingbird napkin rings. 

We had a cute little visitor in the yard last night!

I am joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch
for Tablescape Thursday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Good, The Bad and the Pretty

     I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day. I had a very nice day and our weather was perfect. I'll start this with "the pretty". Some people don't believe that husbands should buy wives Mother's Day gifts, and every year I tell my husband not to...but, he ignores me. This year, one of my gifts from him made me so happy!
     There was a time that getting something for the house would not have been my idea of a gift...but do you see that photo above of my new doormat...I couldn't be happier. When I made the wreaths for the front of the house for this year, I had in mind what kind of doormat I wanted to put outside with them. I couldn't find one anywhere. We have looked in countless stores, on our trip, online and I finally bought a mat that I really didn't like just to get something out there. I guess my husband was listening because if I had designed my own, it would have looked just like the one he found! Woo Hoo!

     You may remember that I decided to use oranges and yellows on the front porch this year. That was an entirely new look for me.

     I decided to add in one deep purple plant in each pot just for a little contrast. Of course it is the purple that is taking off like crazy.

     The soft orange in my hanging basket is so pretty.
I really hope I can keep it alive all summer!
The sweetheart rose bush was a Mother's Day gift from my dad.

     The lantern is a recent purchase from Z Gallerie. It was on the sale table for $15 because the glass was broken out of it. It was also white wood. A can of spray paint and you would never know it isn't metal. I didn't want to spend much on the front porch this year because the front step that you can't see in the pictures was just replaced for $500. It isn't decorative, but the old step separated from the porch (it evidently wasn't installed properly when the house was built) and it was gradually sinking. Nothing like spending a lot of money on a slab of concrete! 

    The "good" is that it is almost time for an exciting event for our family. My beautiful niece is getting married in just over 3 weeks. It is the first wedding we've had on my side of the family and it is going to be wonderful. She is getting married at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, outside on a Saturday evening. My main focus has been figuring out how to wear a cocktail dress without high heels. I won't last in heels more than 30 minutes. So, I've been collecting jeweled sandals and sparkly flats to take with me. My dad is driving home, my daughter is flying in and hopefully, everything will just fall into place. 

    The bad...our older beagle is in her last days. In fact, we just can't figure out how she is still here. We are in the third week of what we thought would take just a few days. She woke up a little over 2 weeks ago and her front legs were barely working. One paw is turned under and she walks as if she is drunk. She is only eating a few bites and taking a sip or two of water daily. She is so thin. She isn't in any pain and at this point we have opted to try to keep her comfortable at home and let her pass away on her own in the place she is happy. We evaluate that decision every day. If she shows any sign of pain, we will have her put down, but she is so afraid of the vet and she seems to still enjoy being held and sitting in the grass with that beagle nose taking in all the spring smells. She will be 16 in June and has had a long, happy life. Even the wild, baby beagle seems to sense what is happening as she is no longer jumping on her "big sister". She is however, jumping on everything else in the house and chewing on things and biting at us when we try to keep her controlled. So, she will be starting obedience classes in July!

Hope you all have a great day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Bittersweet Mother's Day

     It is Mother's Day, a day when we honor our mothers for all they have done for us. It is also May 13th. On May 13th, two years ago, my mom died. On May 13th, 46 years ago, her mother, my grandmother, died. So, May 13th is an strange day for me. At the beginning of the year as I put things on my calendar, I noticed that this anniversary date was falling on Mother's Day this year and I had a moment...but, now that it is here, it really doesn't matter much to me. I know for some people, holidays and anniversary dates are really hard and I expected that to be the case for me after I lost my mom. What I have realized, is that I miss her so much every day, that these anniversary dates and holidays can't make me miss her more than I already do. So, I choose not to spend the day feeling sad. I choose to count my blessings for the fact that I had a wonderful mother and that I am lucky enough to be a mother. Happy Mother's Day Mom, I wish you were here!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Horses, Artisans and Baseball Bats

This is the last post about our trip, I promise. However, some of the best places are on this post...so, read on!

     Do you see it? My beautiful handcrafted dough bowl...love it! When we decided to visit Berea, KY on our way home from Asheville, I knew that the one thing I was going to look for was a dough bowl and I found it! I read about Berea in Southern Living magazine and I couldn't wait to visit. It is the home of Berea College, which has an interesting program where the students tuition is waived as long as they agree to work a certain number of hours per week for the college. It is a very small town, known for its community of artists and we were very impressed with the quality of the crafts. The first shop we went into was The Honeysuckle Vine Gallery and there she was...my gorgeous bowl, handmade and rustic...exactly what I wanted. I flipped her over expecting to see the $150-$175 price that I had seen online for bowls not nearly as pretty and it said $45! She was mine! Don't you love that piece of walnut that is striped through her?


     I was perfectly content to just "window shop" the rest of the shops. I had my bowl and I didn't need another thing, until we walked into the next shop. Nora Swanson Arts creates metal jewelry using no colorant dyes or paints and the patinas were beautiful. I was leaning towards a bracelet that was plain with an almost turquoise patina, until I saw this beauty. What you don't know is that my wedding band has a seashell on it, so could this be more perfect?

I also found a beautiful, simple stone necklace at
the Lindsay Gallery. Then, I stopped shopping!

     Of course after shopping, comes eating! There aren't a lot of restaurants in Berea, but we were very happy with our recommendation of the Main Street Cafe. I had a salad with goat cheese that had been lightly breaded and fried green tomatoes and my husband had a delicious wrap sandwich with homemade chips.

     We aren't "bed and breakfast" people, but the college owns the beautiful Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant. It is right in the heart of all of the little shops. We enjoyed our day in Berea. What we did find is that it is a place to go "on the way" to somewhere else. We had planned on staying 2 nights and we easily did the entire town in less than a day so we changed our reservation to one night.

     Our next stop was Lexington, KY. So, they really do wear those big hats! We actually walked into a Stein Mart and saw the hats, hats and more hats!

     We knew that while in Lexington we wanted to visit Keeneland Racetrack. We had never been to a racetrack and Keeneland is beautiful property for Thoroughbred racing. Some of the biggest names race there as a stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby. We had read that in April you can go in and walk the beautiful grounds or go early in the morning and see them exercise horses. 

     We knew something was up once we drove back onto the grounds. We started seeing lots of cars. It seemed like too many to just be there to explore the grounds. Once we reached the parking area and I saw the women in the huge hats, high heels and flowered dresses...I knew we were in over our heads. Men in seersucker suits and pastel ties were everywhere! There were a few people dressed like us (capris and jeans) but not many. We almost bolted, but we opted to stay and I'm glad we did. It was race day and there were 20,000 people there!

We had a chance to walk through the horse barns.

     We had lunch in the track kitchen with owners, groomers and jockeys. It was so much fun. The food was just like grandma makes and so bad for you. It was cafeteria style and you only had a couple things to pick from...all for $5! Some man next to us took pity on our lost look and explained to us what we should do to see the races.

     We paid our $5 general admission fees and in we went. We watched a race and then we had someone else show us how to bet on a horse. We each bet (and lost) $5, but it was so exciting! Believe me, this is a culture all its own. People were drinking mint juleps, so dressed up and I fully expected the Kennedys to show up! If you notice, people were not so dressed up in the general admission area where we were standing!

     After a couple of races, we were on our way to Louisville, KY. Louisville is home of the Louisville Slugger factory and that was on my husband's wish list. We visited the museum (where he got to swing Mickey Mantle's bat) and took the tour where we watched them making bats for Derek Jeter. We had small bats made for the little grands with their names on them. It wasn't really my kind of place, but it was interesting and air-conditioned!

     Of course we couldn't leave Louisville without a stop to see Churchill Downs. It was a bit of a disappointment after seeing Keeneland. Churchill Downs is right in town in a neighborhood that has seen better days. It wasn't nearly as pretty as the beautiful horse country with rolling fields and white fences in Lexington. I'm sure it is quite exciting on race day...but, I'd go back to Keeneland instead!

     This was a different kind of trip for us with lots of short drives and overnight stops. We had such a good time and can't wait to go back to Asheville and Lexington again.