The best Mother’s Day Gift

I had the best gift for Mother’s Day…time with my son!  My husband took us to see a movie of my choice…The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Not their cup of tea, but hey…it’s Mother’s Day and they always let me rule the day!  Then we went to the mall shopping for my son’s girlfriend’s birthday gift from me and had a delicious meal at the Cheesecake Factory.  I had the Shrimp Scampi with Steak Diane…sooo yummy!  When my husband asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day, I said “To spend time with you and Justin”!  All of our parents have passed away, so we have a small family now and I’m grateful for them.


Happy Mother’s Day!

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70 is the new 60!

We’ve all heard that expression, 50 is the new 40, 40 is the new 30, etc., well my Aunt Colleen shows that 70 can be the new 60!  I attended her birthday party Saturday evening and my present to her was an enlarged photo of a small scanned photo of my late mother when she was in her 20’s.  When my mother passed away a couple of years ago, I remember my Aunt expressing an interest in this particular photo.  I asked that she open my gift first because I had another party to go to.  This photo is a little blurry, but there wasn’t another one of us.  I know it touched her because I took a couple of photos of her while she was opening it and it looked like she was going to cry.  Anyway, the party was so much fun.  It was held at my Cousin’s friend’s house, which was amazing and I’ll post photos of the house tomorrow.


This is my Cousin’s wife Courtne with two of their children and my other Cousin’s daughter…


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A Piece of his Heart

There’s a fairly new surgery called the Wolf Mini-Maze that has a 90% cure rate for Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) and my husband had the procedure done a few days ago in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Community Heart and Vascular Hospital by Dr. Randall Wolf.  Here’s a photo of him holding a piece of his heart.  Many people have a procedure called Ablation to help with the irregular heartbeat, but typically they have to return every 5 years for another ablation.  If you’d like to read about the procedure, here’s a link.  What’s really interesting is Randy works for Atricure, the Company that developed the instruments used for the surgery, in conjunction with Dr. Wolf.  He makes the prototypes.  How cool is that!

Randy’s looking quite happy in this photo because he’s on pain medication…


The hospital has an agreement with a number of local hotels offering patient’s families a discounted rate for their room.  I stayed at the Candlewood Suites located just a mile away and loved it.  Anyway, after the surgery Dr. Wolf handed me the small container with Randy’s left atrial appendage that’s removed during the surgery and said, “Here’s a piece of his heart”.  I took a photo of it in the hotel room and put it on Facebook for friends and family to have a look.  I thought it was pretty funny.  One of my friends said “Glad he’s doing well, but YUK!”  This photo makes it look really big and had another friend worried that they removed so much of his heart.


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Easter Day

My Easter Day today was great!  My son and his beautiful girlfriend (pictured below) spent the night and after a leisurely morning with coffee and internet time, I prepared some mushroom omelets and toast for breakfast.  He’s really tall–like 6’9″–so he makes her look shorter than she is.  We attended a new church today that’s very near our house and it was quite interesting.  To give you some background.  Although my family didn’t attend church,  I attended church with a girlfriend when I was 12.  And through the years have gone to a variety of churches…all different denominations…Presbyterian, Baptist, Church of God, Methodist, Catholic, Jewish, etc.  I have my own personal beliefs, as everyone does.  Anyway, the preacher at this particular church was quite loud and full of spirit.  He was so loud on the microphone that I had to plug my ears with my fingers throughout much of the sermon (but I could still hear him).  He would start off at a somewhat normal pitch and within a few sentences of each point would be almost screaming.  He said that he knows that hell is real because on YouTube he saw a video showing a team of scientists drilling into the core of the earth and their drill bit began to wobble after they were deep into the ground.  There are only two reasons a drill bit wobbles…either it is bent or you’ve reached an area without any matter…such as a cavern.  They placed a microphone down into the hole and heard human voices screaming.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m not poking fun at religion…merely repeating what I heard this morning.  Enough about that.


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Lessons in Hot Yoga and on Facebook

A couple of days ago, I went to a Hot Yoga class in Loveland, Ohio at a studio called “Simply Power Yoga”.  There were 22 of us sweating profusely in the over 100 degree heat for an hour and fifteen minutes.  At the beginning of class, the teacher read the following to the class.

Letter from a Mother to her Daughter:

“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.

When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love.

I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter.”

– Unknown

Here is a photo of my mother and I on a cruise back in 2004.  She passed away in June of 2011.


As the teacher read this…I found myself welling up with tears, trying to wipe them away without anyone noticing, and remembering back to all the times I wasn’t patient with my mother.  When she was finished reading…she made eye contact with me and knew I was touched.  Then yesterday on Facebook I saw the same letter posted on an acquaintance’s page.

I also remember all of the times I was patient and sweet to her.  Calling her almost daily.  Buying her diamond rings and hiding them in her glass of champagne or wrapping them in multiple boxes.  Flying her to see me in Germany when I was in the military.  Quitting my job to take care of her when she was in a nursing home and finally, again, the week before she passed.

I realized that we are too hard on ourselves.  We beat ourselves up.  I learned the lesson of forgiving myself and realizing I’m not perfect!

Christmas Celebrations…a time for Friends, Family and Gratitude

I’m sure most of you have multiple Christmas celebrations…with all of the divorced families and grown children splitting their time between families.  I enjoy being able to have lots of opportunities for spending time with family and friends!  My first celebration was with my son and his girlfriend last weekend.  He is spending Christmas with his father, step-mother and sister in Texas.  He was excited about seeing his 14-year-old half-sister and I’m so happy that he’s happy!

I received a really special gift from him this year…one of my favorite photographs that I took in Namibia, Africa…framed!


Friday night we spent a wonderful evening with my long-time girlfriend from middle school and her husband.  She prepared a delicious fish entrée and then we had game night…a couple games of pool and Wii bowling.  Downstairs was decorated for a party their teenage daughter was having the following night.

The photo on the top right is after we arrived home…Randy bringing wood in for the wood burning stove.  That’s how we heat the house in the winter!


Saturday night we had lots of fun at a friend’s (more like family) house, along with my brother, his wife, and my niece and nephew.  Lynne…the hostess had decorated the table so festively…


We had a different wine with each course…


After the gift giving and white elephant…we sang songs…mostly Christmas songs using a Karaoke machine that hooks up to your I-pad, that Lynne received as a gift.


I was a bit obnoxious with my camera…snapping photos throughout the evening.  But, hey…that’s my thing!

My husband was a bit melancholy because all of our parents have passed away.  It can be a difficult time for people…but I read an interesting article recently that helps people control and redirect their thoughts.  Basically…imagine there is a computer in your head along with a trash bin that you can drag negative thoughts into.  I’m usually quite optimistic, so I don’t need to utilize the technique extensively, but it’s amazingly effective.


Christmas day we’ll go my cousin’s in the afternoon and then to the neighbors’!  We’re blessed to have such good friends and family!!


Preparing for Christmas

I’ve been quite busy since arriving home from my six-week–4,200 mile–road trip through the Southern U.S.  In addition to the normal duties one has when returning from a trip (i.e. unpacking, laundry, opening mail, paying bills, cleaning house, grocery shopping, etc.), with the holidays right around the corner, I decorated the house…


did some Christmas shopping, met a friend for happy hour, responded to party invitations, and took my doggie hiking at the nearby trails.  A couple of days ago, I looked out in the front yard, saw the frosty grass and the shadows stretching across the yard and thought how pretty it looked…so I captured the moment…


Tomorrow evening my son and his girlfriend are coming over for an early Christmas celebration because he’ll be going to Dallas to visit his father over Christmas.  I’m really looking forward to seeing him, since the last time I saw him was before I left for my trip. I’ll be cooking dinner and a delicious dessert!

In memory of the slain children, here is a photo I took a week ago in Florida of happy frolicking children by the sea at sunset…


May their families hearts not break from the sadness.

Wishing everyone a joyful weekend!

Thanksgiving Day in Florida

This year my Thanksgiving is being celebrated in an unusual way.  I’ve been traveling for three weeks now and am spending the next two – three weeks in Ft. Myers, Florida and stopping somewhere in Tennessee or North Carolina on my way back to Ohio.  Typically, when our parents were alive a few years ago and my son was living with us, I would have a group of 10-15 family members (which is small compared to many families) gathered together to celebrate.  Things have changed and the few of us left decided to travel to various locales this year.   I’ve always been one to embrace change and I have much to be thankful for…including the generosity of family for the use of their condo here in Ft. Myers!

I picked my husband up at the airport last night and he’ll spend the next week here enjoying the warm weather and spending time with me!  We started our day out driving less than ten minutes to a small beach area to watch the sun rise…

I prepared a turkey day feast of an eight pound turkey, stuffing, corn, sweet potatoes and pecan pie for dessert!  We ate our dessert first and had our dinner very early… 11:00am…followed by a nap.  And…since it’s a beautiful day here…we soaked up sun at the pool.

It’s odd to see a pool decorated for Christmas…

We had the pool to ourselves…

We rented a movie for later tonight.  It’s an unusual year for us…but it’s wonderful!  Happy Thanksgiving and make it a great one!


Family Fun

Friday night we went out with my son and his girlfriend (pictured below).  Originally we were going to go out to dinner and then to a haunted theme park, but it was raining, so we had dinner and then went bowling.  I haven’t bowled in a few years…it was fun!  We went to a place in Franklin, Ohio called J.D. Legends.  It was our first time there.  They also have outdoor sand volleyball, concerts, a bar and restaurant.  Sometimes it can be a challenge to find something to do (that everyone wants to do) with an adult child!

If he looks tall compared to her…he is.  He’s 6’9″ tall and I’m guessing she’s about 5’4″!

I tried to get a few “artsy” pics…

Don’t most bowling alleys have dusty disco balls?

Posing for the camera!  I’m such a ham.  At least I admit it!

I’ve never taken photos of people bowling, so it was fun to see everyone’s style (or lack of — on certain throws).  Randy looks like he’s going to fall here…

Justin has a long way to get down…

Ashley beat us the first game.  One of the cool things this facility has is the ability to display how fast you are throwing the ball.  I was the slowest…usually clocking in around 13 mph, then Justin and Ashley around 15-16 mph and Randy around 17 mph.  Randy’s fastest ball was over 20 mph.

Randy said I looked like “Tinkerbell” walking down the lane and releasing the ball.  But, I got the most strikes in a game!

Although we have a small family, all of our parents are deceased, and we rarely see our siblings, I’m grateful we have each other!

My Old Kentucky Home

Had a great weekend!  Went 4-wheeling/gun shootin/fishin and of course photographing in Kentucky at my husband’s cousin’s cabin.  My son and his girlfriend joined us and we brought our dog “Jake” for the first time on a car trip longer than 30 minutes.  It was a 3 hour trip and he panted the entire way there.  Next time I think we need some doggie downers!  He had such a good time exploring the property and tracking all of the smells…the ride was worth it!

Here’s some of the land surrounding the cabin…

After unpacking the vehicles…I made sandwiches for them and had a huge salad for myself.  They snacked on organic cheeries/grapes/strawberries/blackberries and celery/carrots/apple with hummus.  I tried a trick with the apple that I found on Pinterest…cut the apple and put a rubber band around it so it won’t brown.

Then…it was time for the 4-wheelin fun!  We used to own 4-wheelers but sold them about 10 years ago…so it was a treat to get to ride again.  Here’s my son and his girlfriend looking like “The Terminator”…

After taking a quick ride, my husband and I went for a hike.  We walked in the glorious sunshine and stopped occasionally for me to take some photos…

We came up through the woods to find our way back to the cabin…

Then it was time for more photo fun…

I like it when people aren’t afraid of looking silly!

The porch had a lovely view of the fishing pond and was a great place to kick back!

This was calling my name….”take my picture—please”!

We did lots of target shooting!

A different perspective.

I brought along the ingredients for Se-mores…but I was good and only had a chocolate bar!  The next morning the lighting was different so I took this photo of the cabin…

We went fishing and I caught one.  This photo is of my son taken from the cabin with my zoom lens…

Jake wanted to ride in my lap for a few minutes on the drive home…

It was a wonderful weekend and we’re blessed to have our family and such a wonderful place to visit!  I hope you had  a great one too!

The Ashe Keeper


A few weeks ago I took my mother’s ashes to the cemetery where my Aunt (her sister) is buried and spread them on her grave.  My mother died a year ago from Cancer at the age of 78.  She was one of eleven children born into poverty and she was closest to this sister.

My father passed away in 2006 from Cancer, my grandfather (his father) passed away in 2004 (at the age of 100) from old age, and my father’s mother passed away in the 1980’s at the approximate age of 80.  At one point, I had all of their ashes.  A few years ago I took their ashes to the Voice of America Park in West Chester (Cincinnati), Ohio and found a spot down a road without anyone around to sprinkle them.  The reason I chose the Voice of America Park was because my Grandfather had been one of the first engineers with them over in Germany in the 50’s.  He and my Grandmother probably would have preferred being spread in Germany, but I didn’t know when I would make it back there.  I was stationed there when I was in the Army back in the late 70’s.

My Grandfather led a very motivated life…was a talented Violinist in addition to his career as an Engineer, and other interesting endeavors/inventions.  If you’d like to read more about him, I have a post here that I wrote over a year ago.

Anyway, back to my Mother.  She believed she had a ghost that lived with her for about 10 years, until she moved in with me back in 2008.  She had some ghost detection people come out and spend the night to see if they could pick up anything with their equipment, and they did register some activity.  She told me before she passed, that if I felt something brush against me, that it would be her.  A few weeks after she passed, I was sitting here at my computer and felt something brush against my leg.  I didn’t think anything of it, just took my hand to brush at the spot.  Well…it happened again and then it dawned on me.  Have any of you had experiences with ghosts?

Back to her ashes.  I’m sure that cemeteries have a rule against doing what I did, but I couldn’t think of a place my Mother would have rather been.  I asked her before she died and she said to keep her for a while and then put her where I thought best.  Having never visited my Aunt’s grave (she died when I was nine years old), I found online what Section she was in and the general location.  This particular cemetery is very large, so once I parked by the Section, it took about 20 minutes of walking around to find her grave.  Some grounds employees drove by me in a golf cart and I tried to keep her bag of ashes cradled in my arm, so they wouldn’t stop to investigate.  I have two brothers, but I’m not in contact with one of them and the other one hasn’t asked about her ashes, so I didn’t think he’d be interested in accompanying me.

I also would like to be cremated.  I think it’s a waste of space and money to put dead people in expensive boxes and bury them.  When I die, I’d like people to celebrate my life if there is a funeral.  Make it a party!


Happy Easter

I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Easter!  I’ll be spending mine with ex-family–I know it’s complicated.  We’re going to my brother’s ex-wife’s sister’s house.  My brother won’t be there because he and his wife have other plans (we all usually get together).  Hopefully my son will make it there.

I made a centerpiece for his ex-wife and her sister.  Here’s a photo…


I found the idea on Pinterest.  They’re quite simple (a little labor intensive) and inexpensive to make.  Hardboil four dozen eggs, color them, and add real or “fake” flowers.  I chose fake so that they can be used again next year.


Walmart glass containers               $12

Eggs @ $1.00 per dozen                 $ 4

Dye                                                      $ 1

Flowers (from the dollar store)     $12

Total                 $29 divided by 2 = $14.50 each

Sending peace, love, joy, happiness, safety and clarity to you!


Peace in the Face of Death

As each day goes by, my mother approaches her impending death from Stage IV cancer…with acceptance.  We talk about death and what both of us envision after life will be like.  Although she has rarely gone to Church, she believes in God and Jesus and hopes that she will be with relatives that have already departed.  Her life has been difficult, having grown up very poor, one of eleven children, and having gone through most of life’s greatest stresses…divorce, the chronic illness and death of her second husband and most of her siblings and parents, and many more of life’s disappointments.

I think about what it will be like once she’s gone, when I forget and want to call her on the telephone and realize…she won’t answer.  Grinning, she says, “Once I’m gone, if you feel fingertips brushing your arm, it will be me”.  You see, she’s been the type of mother that would do anything in her power to protect her children, blurring the line between motherly nurturing and co dependence.

She tells me the same story every week of when I was little and looked up from my stroller and said, “Me push Mommy, let me push”, and of how independent I was, even then.

I am proud of the grace that she is showing during this process and realize I am my mother’s daughter.

My Mother

When my mother was living with me last year, I composed a five-page typewritten mini “autobiography” for her. Following the ideas from a website called “Living Legacies”, I questioned her extensively and discovered many things about her that I previously wasn’t aware of.

When she was born in the early 1930’s, there was a mid-wife to herald her birth. She was one of eleven children, born into poverty. Her parents did share-cropping for a few years and life was difficult in the country.

There was no electricity or running water. Coal oil lamps were used and there was an outhouse. They didn’t own a car, so walking was a necessity. A horse and wagon was used to transport their possessions when they moved. The boys were the horsepower to pull the plow for farming!

Rainwater was collected to wash hair and bath time came around once a week. Her mother would cut everyone’s hair when necessary. Although mom was a tall and skinny girl, she chopped wood, carried water from a spring, helped with doing laundry on a washboard, and would knock hens off of their nests, so she could gather their eggs. One of her sisters milked the cows. They had pigs and usually a few dogs and cats.

The boys would sleep together in one bed and the girls in another bed. Mom remembers having to pick dandelions for soup, because they had very little food. There were the cherished memories of her mother making cornbread, fried chicken, milk gravy, chicken & dumplings, bacon, eggs, and homemade blackberry pies.

Mother wore hand-me-down clothing and Grandma would make broom-stick skirts for the girls. When the holidays came, there were peppermint sticks for Christmas and Turkey was a treat for Thanksgiving.  She has fond memories of playing hide-n-seek, swimming in the creek, playing with dolls, and her brothers making homemade toys out of sticks.  They picked berries and shelled walnuts.

Gathered together, sitting on the floor, the children enjoyed listening to radio broadcasts of “The Shadow”, “Inner Sanctum” and the “Squeaky Door”.

She left home when she was 17 years old and lived with one of her older sisters for a year, before moving to the YWCA. She married my father in her early 20’s.

Life was difficult for Mom as she was raising her three children, because Dad changed jobs frequently and the lack of money was a constant. She felt frustrated because she couldn’t provide much for her children in the way of clothes or any activities that required money. There were no family vacations, except for camping.

Dad and Mom owned a Deli for a while, and Mother worked behind the counter, while Dad grew his beard long and traveled through Amish villages, purchasing meats and cheeses from them.

Mother’s next job was laundering napkins at a restaurant/nightclub. I had left home at this point and was in the military.

There was much turmoil through the years in my family and they ultimately divorced in 1981 and Mother moved to a small apartment. She met her next husband shortly thereafter and remarried in 1983.

For the past 20 years she was an Apartment Complex Manager and her husband was the Maintenance Man there. She has fond memories of her years with him, before he died in 2001. They went fishing, had picnics and grilled out, went to dinner with her sisters, had friends that lived in the apartment complex and enjoyed many good times with them.

Beginning around 1995, Mother had a ghost that would harass her every night in the apartment that she and her husband lived in, until she moved out in 2008. She had a team of paranormal investigators spend the night once and they recorded activity.

In November, 2008, Mother was informed that she has a giant aneurysm at the base of her skull and they didn’t want to operate on it. She was in a nursing home and not doing well, so I quit my job and she moved in to my home so that I could take care of her. She improved rapidly and a year later she moved into a senior citizen apartment nearby.

Just recently she fell and broke both of her arms…so she went back to a nursing home for a month before returning home.

The following are some of mother’s thoughts, beliefs and opinions:

• She believes in God, heaven and hell.

• If she could have three wishes they would be to own a small compact house, that my older brother would stop drinking and that her aneurysm would disappear.

• Her advice to young people is: To live life without drinking too much and without anger.

• Her advice to married people is: To love one another like you would love yourself.

• She is sometimes afraid of the thought of death and other times, not.

• Her greatest challenge in life has been her oldest son, because he has been mean and angry with her for most of his life.

• The most generous thing she’s ever done is: sacrificing many of her wants/needs/money in trying to change her son into a loving son.

• The meaning of life to her is: It is what you make it. God gave us life to see what kind of individuals we would be on earth.