Thursday, June 19, 2014

Grave Robbers

I am on the level of peeved, appalled, and downright disappointed. I stopped at my dad's gravesite in Belding's River Ridge Cemetery last night a little after 8pm. I had not yet visited the cemetery this year, due mostly to the fact when I have been to town in recent weeks I've been on a tight schedule, or at least on my arrival and left after dark. For as long as I can remember my mom has purchased flowers and baskets and has adorned loved ones grave sites prior to Memorial Day. This is a ritual of respect and remembrance honoring those buried beneath the sod. With the Winter cold lasting longer into May, I had asked mom around Mother's Day if she wanted me to secure flowers, since we live near a mega, family owned greenhouse. She and Doug had already purchased baskets and a few geraniums to plant. She had told me her disappointment with the grounds just prior to Memorial Day. She had returned to the cemetery with a rake as the leaves on my Uncle Marvin's grave were 4' deep! When I was younger, I remember how beautiful the cemetery looked. I asked my mom if the cemetery in Alma was still as picturesque as I remember, because River Ridge certainly was not!

I let the 10" high grass & weeds slide as it has been raining a fair amount in the past few days. Thankfully, I had mosquito spray in my vehicle, something natural, not homemade, but still disgusting to have to spray on. I pulled out a pair of scissors I keep in the glove compartment and trimmed all around the headstone, pulled weeds, and wiped off the stone. No big dilemma, as I know some mowing crews don't get close to headstones if there are flowers planted or adornments. It was disheartening to see the large rectangular earthen space where the hole had been dug for burial to be so obvious.  It was permeated with dirt and weeds instead of green grass. If there were any blades of grass, they were camouflaged in the weeds. Considering dad has been buried for over five years and that dirt rectangle looks as if they filled the hole last month, perhaps I should hand till it and plant some robust forbs for the deer! Then the weeds will SERVE a purpose.

As I prepared to back out, it struck me something was missing...a shepherd's hook and a patriotic hanging basket.  I looked around to see if any other graves had shepherd hooks or basket frames(thinking maybe groundskeepers had to move them to mow). There were several in the SW corner. There were other taller shepherd's hooks standing at attention devoid of any flowering baskets adorning them. One in particular had two twin hooks, yet only one purple flowering basket graced one of the hooks. Had mom removed the hook and basket on dad's grave or had someone helped themselves to the flowers placed by my mom and others? I called mom and they had been up last week to water flowers on my dad and uncle's graves so flowers were still there. She told me of the recent retirement a few years ago of a longtime, 80 year old caretaker. Well, that might answer why River Ridge is not so serene anymore.

This morning I called and spoke with Kareen at Belding City Hall. Sadly, she has also personally experienced grave robbing thieves at Saint Joseph's Cemetery. Not wanting to excuse the lack of care of the grounds, she explained many other projects have kept city workers away, but would notify the proper department of the lack of grass. I can understand their rationalization but one must also consider the fact that when burial plots are purchased there is a perpetual care grounds fee attached. These funds are generally invested so there is always funding for maintenance of the grounds. Are these paid fees going into the General Fund, leaving the cemetery without funding?  If the city of Belding does not have the manpower, I could suggest a solution to possibly more than just maintenance of the cemetery grounds. Of course, it would require a staffed person to oversee since who, in our society of  'I deserve to be paid, wants to volunteer' for any beautification projects? With that being stated, I am sure there are members of society within Ionia County that need to perform Community Service.

My sinister side would like to set up any unsuspecting five finger discounters with an electrifying experience to help them gain wisdom as to why one does not take something that doesn't belong to them. We will replace the planter and once again, it might take a walk with a disreputable malefactor. I am thinking of attaching a note or writing directly on the container, a catchy phrase to make the next thief ponder their actions. Why do I doubt there would be any contemplation?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day

In the past few weeks I have gathered with family and friends for somber moments of reflection & celebration of a life on earth, abbreviated. Through tears & heartache, a humbling certitude brought sincere gratitude to my life. There were people that I had not encountered face to face in years, due to living our life in different cities or states. I was the only child born to my parents, yet I was rarely a lonely child. My parents opened their hearts & our home to family & friends that needed a safe harbor. My dad was an alcoholic for many years. His drinking & ugliness encompassed the time frame some of these people lived with us. Personally knowing how awful those years were in a sometimes violent environment, it's daunting to think it was still a desired place these young people wanted to be.

My dad was sober from my 7th-12th grade years. He chose a life of sobriety when I was 26, at which time his first grandchild was 6 months old. Sobriety is never an easy battle but he was valiant in his effort, choosing to speak honestly to those that were once like him, & didn't want to hear what he had to say. He was called upon to speak at local & regional levels, to audiences small to large. I'm proud of my father for not giving in to those that found the need to berate his soberness. It was his desire to be an active participant in his granddaughter's life. Courtney & Kelsey were his pride & joy until the day he died, in February, 2009.

Not that I ever doubted, but I am humbled by those that have shared with me, the positive impact created & difference my parents made in their life. When I was young & long after I moved away from home, I heard stories of ongoing life lessons learned from my dad. His mentoring came through a walk in the woods, teaching how to clean & take care of a gun, included a youngster on a hunting outing, home remodeling & repairs, car engines, strumming a guitar & teaching many to play guitar. The more important lesson was how music can soothe your soul. One of the best traits my dad had was his ability to listen & discern. We could talk & listen with each other for hours, trying to solve the world's problems. There was always plenty of conversation left for another day. I miss those moments.

As this Father's Day comes to a close...HAPPY FATHER'S DAY in Heaven, Dad. Your love & sincerity is ever present in those around me!

Happy Father's Day to Dave, my husband & daddy to our daughters & to Bob, my father-in-law & grandpa to our girls. My life is blessed because of each of you.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Uttering Without Intonating

Almost 10 trillion messages will be sent through mobile message and SMS in 2013. Not all will be equally received. Gone are the days of humorous, indirect, read between the lines type of comments. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CONVEY EMOTIONS, BODY LANGUAGE, OR INTONATION through a text message! This is true for all social media, aside from Skype and FaceTime like interactions. The emoticons, symbols, and punctuation marks might be semi-effective but DON'T reflect true personality. Think of the people you interact with through texting: friends, strangers, business clients, a future date... Perhaps this is how the term 'hooking up' evolved. (That's another blog...SMH). The most painful gaffe is hitting the Send or Post tab when you are correcting or deleting something. Sometimes hitting the Send or Post button altogether, is the only faux pas! Happy texting troops ;)

I find shock value in the shameless use of vulgarity onscreen and off by the Millenial Generation. My parents were not believers of corporal punishment. I must say, had I uttered a fragment of many of the words my children and their friends use, I would have been slapped into reality and probably chewed on a little soap. I think the overall narcissism portrayed by this generation of young people is reflective of their use of social media and lack of quality face to face interaction. Never in my 50 years have I felt so restrained in the words I choose to communicate with my own children and their friends, whether face to face, on the phone, or via social media.

Stay-at-Home Mom doesn't really describe me. We were active when we wanted to be, having fun by learning, creating, contributing to society. We raisied our children in a loving, Christian environment; with family oriented activities; dinner and devotions around the table as a family most nights; hugs, kisses, story time, and prayers before bed; lots of love, giggles, and all out laughter. We have opened our home to two young people in the International Community to join in the craziness of the thing we call family. We remain like parents to each of them in their respective lives outside of college. Somewhere in the muddle of high school and college, the interactive lines of overall communication became strained, in regards to our biological children. Yes, I know that gap is normal, but after talking with friends with older children, this is a different kind of gap. I'd say more like a trench. We have been reminded by our 'children' and their friends that we are well liked by their friends. We try to have fun. I always wondered, are their parents not fun? As they matured, social media and a 24/7 connection became available. It was in this realm, that our family rules no longer held the same value. Sources outside our family also influence our children's decisions. Lines are crossed and values challenged.   

As my husband and I enter mid-life, thinking of ((gasp)) retirement and attempt to guide our girls in a positive direction beyond the walls of their childhood home, we try to keep our composure(aka: opinions to self ). To alleviate student loan debt, we sacrifice greater personal pleasures by assisting them with tuition expenses and books, as long as they reside at home. Each child acknowledges their own understanding of respect for rules and moral compass. We assign them responsibility of their car insurance, tags and health care co-payments. They need to employ themselves to afford gas, entertainment, and clothing expenses. As they strive to be accountable adults, they are reminded it takes family interaction to make a household run smoothly. I have been blessed to call them mine. I pray they feel the same for me.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy 12th Birthday to our big boy, senior Brittany, Stripe! I'm a little late to the party. He celebrated his big day on Thursday, April 11, without a lot of fanfare. It was chilly and rainy so no long walk in the field or woods...maybe tomorrow.
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blooming Basement

I am posting a couple of pics of our evolving basement/family room space taken on May 19. It has changed a couple of times since then, with the addition of a big, comfy couch that now occupies the orange wall where the entertainment cabinets are. The couch was in need of a little reinforcement, which my handy husband took care of with a few dabs of Gorilla Glue & some clamps. As it was purchased 2nd hand from Craigslist for $100, it seemed to need some additional pillows along the back. I had purchased a few Euro Shams for under $5 each a few years ago with a color scheme in mind. All I needed was some 24"x24" filler pillows, which can be pricey, even at 1/2 price at the craft or fabric shop. I remembered seeing some top quality quilted ones on clearance at Marshall's for $13 each. As I was walking down an aisle heading to the clearance shelf, a designer pillow setting on a chair nearly screamed at me! The main color looked to be the same deep taupe as the couch. Accented with cream, sage green, dark orange, & aqua, it was a fantastic find. The hunt was on for 2 more! I did buy all 3 of the plain 'filler' pillows, just in case my search for the additional designer ones failed, besides I already had a plan for those. Ultimately, I only landed 1 more designer pillow which were $24.99 each, but I purchased a king duvet in the coordinating Hillcrest Paradise set, with the thought of sewing a 3rd Euro sham. I have another seating project, a vintage settee & 2 chairs from a late 1800's hotel parlor, waiting for my attention in the barn. My design plan became more concrete with the duvet purchase. New king pillows were snagged for the pillowcases, which should fit nicely across the back of my project seating. Now, if I could only land the cute accent pillows that match for a whole lot less than the $35 starting price on ebay!

The brown wooden chairs were a prototype picked up for $5 each a few years ago, from the personal shop of a designer employed at one of the local, big office furniture giants. I had the 'oops' color tinted at Home Depot to a deeper brown. It looked great when in the can, but not quite what I was desiring. I'm thinking of repainting them; still undecided if I want to go cream or my original plan, a deep ebony brown, which would match closely to the storage pieces. I have a bright sage green planned for that parlor set, so that will add a big punch of unexpected color to the space. We haven't solidly chosen which of the several bolts of fabric we already own, will adorn the seats of the wooden chairs or the parlor set. I had originally thought about a fun animal print on the parlor set but it is still evolving. Look for new photos soon of the couch & pillows. The other projects will get due attention soon enough.

We are swimming in produce as Dave grew a huge garden this year. I've canned 3 different recipes of pickles. The last time I assisted fermenting cukes I was probably in middle school. We know our blind dog, Ruskin, likes them. One of the jars had leaked & it must have been vinegar & garlic bliss for his sniffer because he was rooting around in the quart jars in a box on the floor. The difficult part about pickles is exacting a perfect recipe, as they need to set to develop their yummy goodness for about 3-6 weeks. I've put up seasoned tomato sauce, as Courtney & I get sick from store bought. We have been snipping, slicing & freezing beans, peppers, zucchini, & squash. I've baked zucchini bread & cupcakes. I'm hoping to make salsa yet & try my hand at summer squash soup to freeze. We have been eating all kinds of delicious freshness from our garden! Our early raspberries were a bit of a fizzle, with lots of small berries that fell apart in your hand. Dave's mom & dad trimmed them back to prepare for the 2nd round. We should have ripe berries in 7-10 days! I found some recipes for canned pie filling that I would like to try. Dave brought our fair cow home from the processor on Monday. We delivered 2 large coolers full of frozen zucchini to Degage Ministries to make room. Dave emptied the 'berry' freezer of berries gone bad(freezer burn), thus the desire for a canned method. I also will try vacuum sealing 1 cup servings for smoothies. Our 3 year old Food Saver vacuum sealer also quit working last week. They determined it was probably the motor & not replaceable...NICE...NOT! I snagged a fab deal & ordered a new one..ugh. As of yesterday, we are back to the business of packaging & freezing.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Life's Renovations

I guess I am not so good at keeping the BlogSpot updated. It seems I have no problems staying active on Facebook. I always say I'll do better...but fail miserably. Its hard to believe that I used to journal everyday in my youth.

It has been a complete year since Kelsey graduated high school. When Courtney graduated High School in 2007, she was still involved with outside activities that we attended. While she was in HS, her & Kelsey were in many of the same activities so it was shared time. Having both girls, plus Nick & Amy, in college has been a different stride in my daily walk. I love being able to interact with them on a less hectic schedule but I do MISS the chaos that sports & music brought into our lives.

Kelsey had planned on running in college, although choosing Nursing as a major,
grades weighed heavily, add the need for additional tuition funds on top of sports $$ being offered at select universities, her desire of not wanting to run Cross Country in the fall & not wanting to be gone every weekend...she settled with Grand Rapids Community College. Last year, Courtney changed courses from Nursing to a path toward Physical Therapy. When course selection became very competitive at Grand Valley State University, she was enrolled & ready to transfer to Baker College in Muskegon. She was finally able to secure classes & continue her path at GVSU, without having to give up so many credits! She will hopefully graduate in LESS than 2 years with a Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation. While many of her friends & her cousin, Christine graduated this year, after 4 yrs of college life, she perseveres through change. Depending on job selection upon receiving a BS, she will decide if she will continue on for a doctorate in Physical Therapy.

Courtney works at Ulta, a retail beauty supplies store & salon. She loves her job. Kelsey works for Dave in the rare event that he needs help, therefore she has actively been looking for additional employment. Filling the gas tank takes a healthy part time job to say the least. Both girls are free of classes for the summer. They can usually come up with free or low expense activities to make life a little more exciting. I've been trying to stay fresh with photography, looking to launch a website soon.

We have been sorting and purging, painting and decorating, mostly the basement. Dave ordered enough cork flooring to complete Courtney's room, so her carpet was ripped out this past week. A few more planks & it will be done. In March of 2010, we undertook a renovation project involving of our kitchen, living room, laundry room, bedrooms & garage. We even moved to our RV inside the barn for 1 1/2 weeks. We installed cork in our bedroom & Kelsey's bedroom but didn't have enough for Courtney's room. Now, in hind sight, Dave wishes he had purchased the whole LOT that was being offered at a phenomenal savings. It would have covered all 4 bedrooms & the 3 walk in closets.
Looking for granite for my mom on Craigslist, when we saw all that was for sale, I called Dave to come with the checkbook =) We were only able to secure just under half of the cork flooring originally offered, as someone else snatched it up quickly! We also brought home a good amount of composite granite, pendant lighting, 2 different sets of cabinets & a vessel sink from a high dollar Downtown Grand Rapids office property that was never used. Kelsey & I wanted some other goodies, but even at unbelievably inexpensive prices, the bank account can only stretch so far. We paid $500, or maybe it was $600 for the cork. Had we taken the original LOT it would have been ONLY $100 more. The bargain price we just secured to complete a few square feet....$533!!! I told Dave tonight he should have put something different in Courtney's room...AAHHH! I'll try to post some pics of the finished areas soon.