Thursday, December 24, 2015

12. 24, 2015 Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2015

Dear everyone I know,

Right now I’m in Coeur d’Alene Idaho, sitting at Josh and Megan’s kitchen table, looking out the window at 15 inches of snow!  I’m here to celebrate my newest Grand Baby Elizabeth’s first Christmas with her and her parents.  J  It’s warm in the kitchen, Megan is making spritz cookies, baby is sleeping, and Josh is working…so I thought to use this time to get this letter written.

We not only have a new Grand Girl but also a new Grand Boy!   Scott’s son Brad and wife Megan had their son Elliott Scott on February 10 and 12 days later on February 22, Elizabeth LaRue was born. Both are thriving cutie pies with big smiles; I have to admit that Elliott has a lot more hair than Elizabeth.  In fact, my sister has called him Prince Luscious Locks.  

Scott and I had a good 2015; not as much travel this year as last year… if you read my letter last year, you know we traveled the country for six months. As wonderful as all that was, I needed to find a job and in January I started work at Greenwood Middle School as a 6th grade instructional aide.  This past September I switched over to the Central 9 Career Academy, a vocational school for 9 school systems.  I’m doing basically the same thing at C9 as I did at GMS…friendly nagging and crowd control.

Travel.  Last Easter I came to Idaho to meet Elizabeth and contrived to hold her for the whole week.  Once school was out in May, we headed west again in our RV with Sam and Jenna as co-pilots.  Stops included the Corn Palace in Mitchell SD, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Wall Drugs, and Little Big Horn, ending up here in Coeur d’Alene for some family time.  Leaving Sam and Jenna here to tickle Elizabeth, Scott and I continued to Oregon, meeting up with Cousins Sue and Bob Wilkins, and then driving and camping up the coast, ending up in Seattle.   Back home by mid-July, we had the house re-sided and the roof replaced, and then I was back to work.  Work really puts a damper on things, doesn’t it?  Scott is still enjoying his retirement – he makes noises about finding a part time job but he’s not looking really hard. 

My son Josh and wife Megan are having fun with Elizabeth, watching her grow.  Josh programs from home for HP and Megan is an elementary school counselor.  Idaho is way too far away from Indiana for my liking but we skype often and they’re good about sending me pictures of Elizabeth’s smiley little face.  I crocheted her a blanket before she was born, the colors of the rainbow.  It makes me happy to see that it is her favorite blanket, the one she sleeps with it every night!  

My son Tim and Mary are both teachers in the Lafayette Indiana school system.  Mary is an English teacher at the high school and Tim is teaching 8th grade algebra.   They’re doing so well with raising their boy Clark – he’s a fun little guy and I love it when I get to hang out with him.

My son Sam and Jenna are living in Bloomington Indiana.  He’s working as a Tech Writer, hoping to get a novel or two published, and Jenna is working as a Costume Technician for the Jacobs School of Music, at Indiana University.  

Scott’s a lucky guy – both of his children and their families are mere minutes down the street.  His daughter Jessica and her husband Shawn have two girls.  Kaylinn is a high school freshman and Kamryn is in 5th grade.  Brad and his wife Megan are handling two babies…their daughter Gretchen is 19 months and Elliott (aka Prince Luscious Locks) is 10 months.  

My boys and their girls, Scott’s kids, and all the Grands make us very happy.  Grands are the best, aren’t they?


It’s now Christmas Eve morning and I’m back at the table, sitting next to Elizabeth as we both eat our oatmeal.  It’s still snowing! There has to be almost 20 inches out there on the porch.  Yet when I talked to Scott this morning, he informed me that yesterday in Greenwood it was 60 or so degrees and a tornado hit the area.  Weird Weird!  

As I was making my oatmeal, I heard Megan tell Elizabeth that it was her very first Christmas Eve!  And I had to laugh because it’s my 58th Christmas Eve.  And wow, how the cast of characters in my life has changed!  Life is as weird as that tornado but as long as I’ve got Scott and my boys and girls and all those grands to hug and roll around on the floor with…Life Is Good! 

HO HO HO and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

09.16.2015 A chance meeting at Steak and Shake

09.16.2015  Below is something I wrote on 9.11 and posted on Facebook as part of my 2015 Picaday.  It has nothing to do with the huge American tragedy that happened 14 years ago when so many people lost their lives - the date is just happenstance.  I'm posting it here as part of my blog because I didn't want to lose what I'd written after I met Shirley, a little old woman who lost her husband just over a year ago.


Scott and I walked over to Steak and Shake for a quick supper.  As we walked to our booth, I noticed a little old lady over by the windows.  She was sitting by herself, slowly sipping her coffee, playing with her napkin, just looking at the other diners.  Scott and I sat down and ordered our food.  I looked over and she was still by herself, looking kind of sad and lonely.

So I went over and slid into the seat across from her and said "Hi!  I saw you sitting here by yourself and I was compelled to come over and say HI!"  She smiled a big smile at me, straightened up a bit and said in a soft voice "Do I know you?"

I said "Nope!" and smiled back at her.  We started talking.

Shirley is 88 years old a pretty woman with a soft wrinkled face.  Her husband of 65 years died about a year ago.  They would often eat at the Steak and Shake, since it's close to where they lived and she eats there still.  "I eat my sandwich and pretend that my Rex is sitting across from me."

She misses him so much that at night alone in her apartment she cries for him.

I asked about children or grandchildren - she has them but none live close to Greenwood and everyone is so busy she hates to ask very often for some time.  She was upset that her photograph album wasn't in her purse - she wanted to show me a picture of Rex.  I asked her what color his eyes were and she smiled and said they were a little blue, a little green "and he had a beautiful smile."

Eventually I went back to my table but kept an eye on her as I told Scott of our conversation.  She smiled over at me as she packed up her onion rings and paid for her meal and then stood.  I hopped up, went over and gave her a big hug.  She hugged me back, looked up at me and said "Thank you so much for coming to my table.  I'm not so lonely right now."

She followed me back to my table, thanked Scott for sharing me for a few minutes and then left.  I tell you what, I wanted to ask her for her address and phone number so I could take care of her but you know, little old ladies shouldn't give out their info to just anyone.

I'm so glad I went over.  :)  If you see someone sitting by themselves, don't be afraid to go over and say HI.  You might be just what they need.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

02.17.2015 Tim has inspired me to return to this blog!


I contributed to this blog fairly regularly for awhile...and then when I was hanging with my grandson on a daily basis, I also posted on a daily basis.  But then, I stopped.  and it's crazy, but 2014 was full of changes and adventures for me and this blog would have been a good place to write all about it.

But I was living it and didn't really have the time to write it all down properly.  Maybe I'll blog about it all in my next post, because THIS post is about...

50 Shades of Grey.   I read the first book.   I took the book out from the Greenwood Library, using the automated checkout lane so nobody really knew I had it ( not the reason I used the auto checkout..I always use it)  but I DID find myself a little embarrassed when I turned it in and one of the nice women who work there commented on it...."ooooohhhhh you've read this, hmmmm?" with a sly little grin.

And really, as I used to tell the boys, " if you can't stand there with pride on your face and tell your grandfather or me exactly what it was you did or are planning to do...well, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place  at the LEAST think long and hard about it to see if it's all gonna be worth it because I will find out."

so maybe I shouldn't have read it in the first place, but I really wanted to know what all the fuss was about.   I read it and was darn happy I was not sitting on a bus or on a couch next to a kid while I was reading it because  "sheesh" and "whew" and "just what is she thinking?"  I didn't bother to go on to book 2 or 3.   I figured it just would be more of the same and I didn't care enough about the characters to find out how it all ended.

Anyway - last night I was reading online a few articles written by people who are completely outraged by the movie.  And I get while they're outraged... they say young impressionable people will view the movie and think it's all a good thing, perhaps leading each aforementioned impressionable person down the path to wrack and ruin.

And I get it.  But you know?  It's a movie.  A movie based on a book.  It's a book.  It's not real.  And I know that lives can be changed for better or worse by a book...but when you get right down to it, it's fiction.

I was a middle school librarian when the first Harry Potter book came out.  Witches!  Sorcery!  Dark Magic!  OH NO!  And was I gonna put it into the library?  Yep.  And each elementary put that book on the shelf as well.  The kids READ.  Did any of them become witches or warlocks?  I do not know.  But sheesh.  FICTION.  It's a book!  Fiction!  and wow, look at all those kids reading, zipping thru those enormous books!  They're Reading!  It's a MIRACLE!  Where's book 2!!!??/

One night I was at choir practice and there was a great brouhaha going on about the new movie coming out based on a novel titled  The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.  I'd read all 3 of his Dark Materials books and really enjoyed them.  I never thought any of them were based on fact, but the brouhaha?  Oh my goodness people!  It's FICTION.

I understand the power of the written word.  I understand that some people can't tell the difference between right and wrong, between black and white, BUT a talking armored polar bear or a talking lion (let's just go ahead and drag Narnia in here) is fiction.  And if the writing is good and the book starts people talking or omg, THINKING...well it's ALL GOOD.

So 50 Shades of Grey?  No, I won't go see'd be a waste of my money.   And really,'s FICTION!  If you want to read the book or see the movie?  Go ahead!  It's NOT REAL..  Just don't get into somebody else's face if they want to read or watch.  Sheesh.  It's NOT REAL.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

12.24.2013 Christmas Eve...have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!


Christmas Eve.  So I worked a few hours this morning - they let us go at 11.  Did a few errands and then Scott and I went to the movie theater and saw the Desolation of Smaug was REALLY good!

Christmas Eve - it's an interesting one..just me and Scott.  No boys, no girls, no grands.  Just Scott and Me.  Sam and Jenna are with Josh and Megan.  I'm glad of that.  Tim and Mary and Clark are with Mary's parents, but we'll see them Saturday at my Aunt Diane's house.  We'll go to Jessica's house tomorrow around noon - Christmas is so different than it was years ago.  I've always understood how Mom and Dad felt when the holidays were spent on their own in California, without kids waking up in the house... but now I really KNOW it.

 Merry Christmas to my Mom and Dad and my Grannie and Gramps and my Grandma and Grandpa and my Uncle Red and  Zuzu...Merry Christmas.

Christmas can be so hard.  I'm going to try to NOT become all melancholy.Thank Goodness for my Scott. We will make each happy and cuddle on the couch with the Christmas lights glowing.

12.24.2013 Merry Christmas 2013 Newsletter

12.24.2013  I took the easy way out as far as my newsletter this year.  Instead of mailing it out to everyone I know - I sent it via facebook or an email.

Bad I know.  But I ran out of time!

I did send a hard copy to a few people - My Uncle Bill and Aunt Nan, my Aunt Ruth, My Auntie Flo, Carole and Moose Cameron (Josh's in-laws), Lynn and George Davis (Tim's in-laws,) Ruth and Jerry Kelly (Sam's in-laws) and one of my earliest friends Laura Michalik.

Merry Christmas 2013 and Happy New Year 2014

I know that Christmas newsletters are hardly needed anymore.  News is shared fast with Facebook, email and cheap cell phone plans.  But there are twenty years of Christmas letters in my computer and I can't stop now! 

I’m living in Greenwood, Indiana with my wonderful traveling companion Scott Smith. He retired in January after 34 years with the Post Office but still gets up each morning to eat oatmeal with me for breakfast.   Many weekends we drive the back roads of Indiana in the quest of completing my ongoing photo project – there are 92 counties in Indiana and I want to take a picture of each county court house.  I’ve only a few left. What will I do with all those pictures?  No idea, but it gets us out of the house and we travel well together.  Without me, Scott journeyed to Maine with his son-in-law AND enjoyed a North Carolina beach vacation with his daughter, grand girls and Auntie . 

With me?  Well, we had two weeks in Great Britain!  First we were going to drive ourselves around, and then we saw a YouTube video on the MAGIC ROUNDABOUT OF SWINDON.  If you get a chance, watch the video.  You’ll see why we threw out the idea of renting a car and instead, signed up for an 8 day Trafalgar bus tour.  We were driven all over England (Stonehenge! Bath! York! Stratford upon Avon!) with a side trip to Wales and a few days in Edinburgh, Scotland. When the tour was over, we still had 4 days in London on our own.  Scott had us nipping on and off the Tube like locals as we saw the Tower of London and Big Ben, attended The Mousetrap, roamed cathedrals – we even saw Prince Charles by chance AND took the train to Paris!  Scott sampled the beers of Great Britain while I developed a fondness for bangers and mash served at Mabel’s Tavern.  This trip was simply fantastic and I enjoyed every minute of it.  

We  flew west to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for Thanksgiving week with my Josh and his wife Megan.  The week before our visit, Josh and Megan's step-dad Russell drove from Idaho to Indiana and back FOUR pick up a truck Josh has been working on with his Dad.  A Very Tiring Adventure - FOUR days, 3600 miles, and they're still friends.  :)  Josh and Megan are doing great; he works from home for HP, programming for the state of Ohio, and Megan works as a counselor at Fernan Elementary, just a few minutes from the house.  They live in a beautiful area, just about 10 minutes from Lake Coeur D’Alene.  Beautiful yes, but too far from me, that’s for sure.  

What are Tim and Mary up to?  Both teachers at local Lafayette schools, they’re also dealing with Diapers and Bottles;   my Grandson Clark Davis Franklin was born on August 7, 2013!  I was lucky enough to see him when he was only a few hours old. Luckier still, I was his Granny Nanny Oct. 14 - Dec 20.  I'd drive up to their place on Sunday and stay until Friday afternoon.  I'm not retired - my Boss allowed me to support my clients via cell phone and laptop.  Clark is a cute little guy and I miss him already!  It's back to the office for me and Clark starts at a day care in January.  I posted a picture each day I was with Clark on my blog

Sam married his fiance' Jenna Kelly this past May.  Two days later, she took off for a summer job in Normal, IL at the Shakespeare Fest and he worked in Terre Haute.  After returning to Sam in Terre Haute, she found another theater job at the Cardinal Theater in Bloomington Indiana.  After teaching a semester of freshman English at ISU, Sam packed up their gear and moved there as well.  He starts a new job soon; more on that in Christmas Newsletter 2014.

So Tim, Mary and Clark are 90 minutes north of me.  Sam and Jenna are 60 minutes south.  Josh and Megan?  29 hours northwest.  Five out of seven fairly close at hand – could be worse!   :)   My kids are simply the Best.  I've posted some  pictures on my Flicker  photo account -

I was really hoping that 2013 would be a year without sorrow, but that was not to be.  My Brother Steve’s little girl died this past spring; a stupid accident, she drowned in her bathwater.  Zuzu was only 4 ½. Every time I think of her, with her sweet little face and big smile, I’m SO sad and my heart breaks for my brother who loved her so much.    

What will 2014 bring?  ONLY good things (knock on wood!) I’m thinking lots of travel with Scott and lots of time with my boys and girls. I hope to see some old friends and perhaps meet some new ones.   Love and hugs to you and yours from me and mine!  Have a wonderful Christmas 2013 and a 2014 full of adventure, love and hugs!                 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

12.20.2013 Nine Weeks With Clark


Today was my last day as Granny Nanny to Clark.  So many emotions today!  Yes, I'm ready to get back to my own life but am I ready to NOT see Clark every day?  That's got to be a BIG NO, i am NOT ready.   And the bigger question, is Clark ready for day care?  We'll all find that out as he starts day care in 2 weeks, after the Winter Break is over.

Today was a busy day; when he was awake he was practicing his rolling, shrieking, raspberries, etc.  When he was asleep, I was busy washing clothes, packing up stuff, loading up my car.

I wish they lived just down the road from me.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

12.19.2013 Nine Weeks with Clark


Hard to believe I only have one day left of these Nine Weeks with my Grand Boy Clark.  It's been hard, exhausting, and mind numbing and I wouldn't have missed it for the world!

Actually, he slept most of the day today.  I kept peeking into his room to see just what was going on in there - and each time, he was peacefully sleeping.  I'm not used to him sleeping for so long - it made me anxious!  But when he was awake, he was busy, legs moving, arms waving, turning over and over and over, lifting himself up on his arms to better see his world.  And of course, the Shrieking for the joy of Shrieking and the constant raspberry practice.  :)  He's getting pretty good at that actually!

Just chillin' in the kitchen