Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This is it!

So today is the day.  I am actually 60.  Who knew it would happen when I still don't feel grown up.

Had lunch with a dear friend yesterday.  We celebrated our joint birthdays - hers is the 6th - on the 7th.  Aren't we clever for old folks?  She gave me all these funny gifts; pink curlers for wearing in public, a terry lined shower cap for wearing in public, a razor to remove my eyebrows and a pencil to draw them back in, bright red lipstick with directions to overdraw my lips, a Rain Hat With Full Visor designed for bouffant hairstyles, a sleep mask, and a blue and gold thong for the cheerleader of 2010.  She is so clever.  I got her a card and a sleeve of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  So lame.  In spite of my lameness, we had a great lunch laughing all afternoon and ending with dinner with our hubbys.

So what am I thinking on this day?  I'd like to say something profound - but who are we kidding here - its me!  I have been so blessed in this life.  I've been a sister, wife (twice!), mother, step-mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, great aunt.... and I am still so annoyingly ordered that I tried to put the "titles" in order of occurrence and realizing how silly it is, stopped!

My sons are happy, healthy husbands and fathers (one is a grandfather!).  Any lasting and horrible mistakes Lew and I made raising them - they have been kind enough to keep to themselves - mostly.  So I don't know what they are - except I never let Dann play football.  Claims he was scarred by that :-).  I have been fortunate enough to be a part of Bill's children's lives, too.  They have included me in both their important life moments and their daily lives.  For that I am also very grateful.  Hmmmm, I wonder if there is any scarring there....... sure hope not.

So, that's it.  On this auspicious day, I am happy.  Life is good.  This blog is ended and a different one has started.  I was playing around with it about a month ago.  "One Year Left Before 60" only works until today.  Makes me think of the Plan Ahead sign where the e-a-d does not fit on the line.  Should have thought of a better title!  Then I wouldn't need a new one.

So this time it is "Life Happens After 60 Too" - who knows - I could live to 120!

Linda and Pepper circa 1953

Thursday, July 15, 2010


54 Days Left

I'm beginning to have a Tourette reaction to hearing water drip. I was sitting here perusing my favorite blogs when I heard a funny "drip-sploosh". Now I still don't know what it is or was, but I hear it about every 10 minutes or so. It can't be good.

We have had our share of leaks - I was going to say lately - but actually water has been an ongoing source of interesting problems since we've been married.  Soon after we moved in, we had hurricane leftover rain.  That brought about 11 inches of water in the basement.  So Bill, Bryan and Steve dug trenches around the house to create French drains to take the water away. 

The next basement flood was only about 3 inches.  This time we discovered that the sump pump was taking the water from the sump and pumping it to the other side of the house and dropping it next to the foundation.  So we had to re-route the sump outlet to carry it farther from the house.

The next time the basement flooded was about 1 inch and this time the sump wasn't able to handle the load of water.  So Bryan and Bill dug out a second sump well.  This is twice the size of the original and is now the primary pump.  Fingers crossed!

So the ground water leaking into the basement seemed to be fixed.  Imagine our surprise when the basement had water in it again.  After investigation we discovered no rain caused this, but it was a pinhole in the copper pipe.  It was a pipe we could get to in my garage.  So he cut back the drywall until he got to the little sprayer.  Bill fixed it.  We took everything out of the garage, fixed the drywall and painted the garage.  It needed it.

A couple of weeks ago I go to get in my car one Sunday morning and there is water dripping from the garage ceiling.  Had to cut open the drywall and find the leak.  I won't even tell you how many pipes were cut to find/fix the leak.  Nor how much drywall was destroyed.  We ended up staying in a hotel that night 'cause we couldn't turn the water back on.. The next day he struggled to get the pipes soldered.  The banging and grunting were memorable.  He got it fixed enough that we could turn the water back on.  The third day he got it all fixed. 

Then about a week later he came into the bedroom fussing about the cat peeing on the carpeted stairs in the foyer.  I cleaned and dried it up but was confused why the cat would pee on the stairs.  The next day we discovered it was actually a pipe with a pinhole...... again.  Back to the garage to cut open MORE of the drywall.  Pipes are fixed now - fingers crossed.  Soon we'll fix the drywall.

None of this includes running toilets, leaking shut off valves, dripping faucets and shower heads.  AAARGH!

The dripping, sploosh noise has stopped.  Well, the TV is on in the kitchen - maybe I just can't hear it.  At least there is no water on the floor - or in the basement.  I feel the Tourette tics starting again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


59 days left!

This is my grandmother Jennie Hillegass Slotter. This was taken on or about her birthday in 1960 or '61. As the story goes - Daddy gave Mrs. Bauman some money to buy Grandma a glass of wine at her birthday dinner. They, Mrs. Bauman, Lucy Bauman Kern, baby Mark Kern, took her to the Collegeville Inn for Dinner.

It is the first color picture I remember seeing of Grandma.  Lucy Kern gave it to me 3 months ago .  Notice the “old” cars in the background!  Grandma died around 1965.   
Lucy and I were talking about aging today versus then.  Seems people like Grandma and Lucy's mother was a lot older at 65-70 than people are now.  She was probably the age I am now when I would travel on the bus to Allentown with her.  We would go to Hess's where Grandma would go to the exotic foods counter and buy some candy.  Next was Farrs shoes where we would put our feet in the xray contraption that showed you whether you had enough room in your shoes!  At some point we took a taxi to Grandma's doctor.  I went in the room with her and watched as she got what I can only guess were cortisone shots in her hands and knees.  The doctor would massage the "shot place" for a few seconds - was it painful?  I think it was. 

I just remember a much older woman than I think I am.  Yet she came and took care of us after Mom died.  That had to be hard.  She stepped into a grieving household of her son and the five kids.  I'm sure we didn't appreciate what she did.  Heck - who does appreciate their parents?

Anyway, for some reason I was thinking about her today.  It is good to see the photo of her.  Many memories came flooding back.  I often spent the night at her house.  It was good.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


My husband took me to a nearby park for a quiet lunch. It was peaceful, romantic and delightful. We haven't done this since I worked near Valley Forge. He used to come down and we would go to lunch at the park. Sigh! It was really nice.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


70 Days

Sunday we had the closing of Vacation Bible School.  Nine of the 12 kids were in church to sing the song my helper Lisa Krause created.  I just spent about an hour trying to get a clip from the service DVD, but I have to buy software to do that. :(  So, no clip today.

I haven't taught Sunday School or VBS for many years.  So I wasn't exactly nervous, but I was unsure how I would relate to the kids.  First, I am new at the church so the kids don't know me.  Second, kids are different than the last time I taught (or so I thought).  Finally, I am significantly older than the last time I taught.  Would that be a problem?  After all, these kids are from 3rd to 6th grade.
Our lessons this week were about God's Heroes.  Now you'd think that would be Paul, Noah, Elijah, or Moses but no our heroes were generally unsung characters making things happen.  In our lesson one night we talked about God's plans and how often we don't see the whole picture.  As an example, I cut a small hole in the face of a file folder.  I placed a picture of something inside the folder so that all you could see of the picture was through the small hole cut in the front.  They were to guess what the picture was.  So some pictures were easy to guess, some were impossible and some were just a small view of a whole wonderful view. 

Also that night was a story about a teenager who befriended a poor girl.  Through her friendship, the poor girl got help she needed and other good things happened.  This is the kind of "quiet hero" story we taught about all week.  Encouraging each person to make a difference in some life.

Before we left that night, Lisa confided in me that the story about the teenager really hit home to her.   Her daughter did step up and defend a boy with cerebral palsy that kids were harassing and making fun.  Her "reward" was being physically attacked by 5 girls.  This was two years ago when she was in fourth grade.  She has been through counselling since and has come to terms with it.  She is coming out of a shell.  As I understand it, significant changes occurred in the school as well.

So I am driving home and thinking about the evening.  Lisa's daughter had been acting up a bit - not in a nasty way, but a bit disruptive. I was trying to decide what to do about it, if anything.  Here is my "AH HA" moment. I suddenly remembered the file folders.   We really can't see the whole picture, can we?  You never really know what is around the corner, or what someone else had lived through.  Here I was thinking about separating the giggling group, when it was a healthy sign for her to be acting up a bit.

Well the whole week was good.  I'm glad I did it.  Kids are kids but I must admit, some things they had to explain to me.  For example, I couldn't remember kick-ball rules or how to play it at all!  Amazing because we used to play it all the time.  The rules: The tree stump was first base, giant tombstone was second, flag was third and the flip flop was home.  If you kicked the ball into the street or if you hit a headstone it was an automatic out.  Most interesting to me - we didn't keep score!

So my days of studying and preparing the lesson are done for now.  I think I'll do it again next year.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This and That

89 Days Left.

Less than three months to 60 - but the more surprising thing about it is that when I turn 60 all the kids will be back in school after their summer vacation.  Most around here aren't yet done with school. 

My garden and bushes and trees have had no attention from me this year - yet.  We got the outside of our house painted which I used as an excuse to not do gardening.  It actually was a good reason, but now I have to get cracking. I am annoyed how quickly the weeds take over.  My rhododendron, azalea and iris flowers were still beautiful a week ago and now are shriveled, brown and icky. 

My/our biggest problem is spots.  These little black spots appeared last year at the end of the season.  They are on the deck, plastic hose box, my herbs, flowers etc.  I tried an assortment of chemicals to get rid of them to no avail.  So, I wrote to the Penn State extension.  These are called artillery mold.  Called so because they can shoot spores over very loong distances.  They can last years protected in the spots.   AND IT COMES FROM WOOD MULCH!  Probably most distressing - your best bet is to scrape them off - chemical cleaners have little or no affect on the spores.  ARGH!

So think of me sitting out there scraping dots off the stuff on my deck.  Of course, Homer will be watching.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Aggression, Anger, Avenge

Yikes!  106 Days Left

In the last two weeks I've had two car incidents.  Or rather two incidents in the car.  It has heightened my awareness of driving aggression both inside and outside my car!

The first incident I started.  On a highway, I pulled around a slow truck.  Soon after I pulled out this car comes barrelling up behind me, tailgating like I cut him off when I pulled out.  I passed the truck and pulled back into the right lane.  As the goof  passed me, I flipped him the bird.  Not proud of it, but I justified it by telling myself he had no right to harass me.  Well, that really ticked him off (note - I am saying "him" but in truth, the windows were tinted and I couldn't see).  He whipped in front of me and slowed down a bit.  Well, I realized what was happening and didn't try and pass him.  I figured I only had another 2-3 miles before I got onto another highway then 1 mile until I got off.  He was going to stay on the current road, but when I pulled over to get on another highway, he got in front of me and did the same.  On the exit ramp  he starts whipping the car right and left like a NASCAR driver before the green flag.  So I come up to my exit and figure I'll finally be rid of him.  Wrong.  He sees that I am pulling off, he does the same.  I decide to take the next exit and get back on the highway, he does the same.  Remember he is in front of me.  I waited until the last second - and he was past the exit - I bolted off.  Heart pounding - I was finally rid of him. 

Made me think about how I actually started it by thinking I was funny.  Ended up I wasn't!  I decided  I need to be a nicer person especially in the car.  So I figured a test would be coming soon.

The next day I was running errands and decided to stop at a fast food place drive through.  There is one way to access the drive-through line and a cut-in-line way to access it (marked with a Do Not Enter sign).  So this guy cuts in front of me.  I tapped my horn.  He waved thanks.  Amazing...... I get up to the speaker.  Them "Can I help you with anything?" Me "Yeah, you can stops jerks like the one in front of me from cutting in line." Then I ordered.  As I pull around I hear the waving man say to the cashier, "This lady behind me nearly had a heart attack.  Screaming and yelling!  I don't know what was the matter with her."  I pull up to pay and say "I really wasn't screaming or yelling.  But I did tap my horn when he cut in line."  Cashier says, "I know.  We would have heard you.  He does this all the time."  So I think it is over, pick up my food and park in a nearby lot to eat and listen to the radio.   Out of the corner of my eye I see his car coming toward me, he pulls beside me about two slots away.  I poke around in my bag, unwrap my sandwich and put the straw in my drink.  I'm thinking of the Dog Whisperer advice - No look, no touch, no eye contact.  He pulls behind me, pulls around the other side, and pulls in front of me.  All the while I pretend not to notice.  Finally he leaves and I am a bit shaken. 

Every time I resolve to do or not do something, I get tested.  I don't think being nicer means getting walked on, do you?  If I were inside a building, in line and someone cut in, I would tell them the line forms in the back.  But conversely, if I was walking and inadvertently cut someone off, I would apologize - not flip the bird.  In both incidents I made one other mistake.  I did not get the license plate of the car.  My phone has a voice memo and it would have been easy to record the plate. 

Steven saved me from myself when he introduced me to audio books many years ago.  Those books allowed me to disengage my aggression and anger while driving.  My journeys are usually very short now and I seldom read this way.  Obviously, I still need to disengage aggression and anger.  Maybe by the time I turn 60.......  there's always hope.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hey Guys!

226 Days Left

Is any other woman offended by a waiter or waitress referring to a group you are in as "Guys"? Not just a group - it happens when Bill and I are alone are the group.

"Can I get you guys anything to drink?"
"You guys plan to have dessert?"
"Are you guys ready to order?"
"You guys need refills?"

In this day and age of right speak, or whatever you want to call it,  I am surprised this has not been the subject of any discussion.  Since noticing it a year or two ago, I have really become sensitized to the address "guys"  So I thought about a substitute word, and have concluded that "guys" is redundant.  It is always preceded by "you" and if removed from these examples ceases annoying me.

Now, I have thought of myself as "one of the guys" in sports, business and a myriad other areas.  But I never expected to be called a guy. 

So all people out there, help me get "guys" removed from restaurant speak.

Or as Elvis would say, "Thank you, thank you very much."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Time Zones

228 Days to go.

I know it is silly - but I always wanted to live in the western time zone.  Actually - to be more accurate - I always wished that this time zone was the western one.  I don't want to live on the West Coast as it is too far from friends and family, but the time zone is another thing. 

Imagine working for an east coast company.  They don't really expect you to be at work until 11 AM EST.  Then at 5 or 6 PM EST, everyone in the east goes home.  Essentially you have a 5-6 hour work day.  Watching sporting events must be great.  The first football game is on at 10 AM.  (Hmmmm - interferes with church. Would have to figure something out.)  And the baseball and basketball playoffs are actually over at a reasonable hour.  Yes, I think I would really like that.  All the other programming is at the same time as the east coast.

The real issue is how our lives are dominated by thoughts of time.  Need more time, takes too much time, no time left, time's up!  (How many days until I turn 60?) Do we even think about time when there is more than we need?  Is there ever more than we need?  If the doctor says, "Get your affairs in order", I can't imagine we'd think - Thanks for the heads up.  I probably would think I didn't have enough time. 

As I get older, I do wish for more time.  Especially time to spend with the people we love: our children, grandchildren, siblings, their children. The list goes on.  Do we appreciate each other more if we see each other less?  What would it be like to all live in the same town, on the same homestead?  How much time together is the right amount?

I guess the time zone isn't that important after all.  What is important is what we do with the time we have.  I save my time for important things.  Just ask Maxine..........

Maybe I could rearrange my priorities - a bit.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Go Team Go!

242 Days Left

I got to thinking about sports teams and how we root for a certain team.  And it is all very simple yet very complicated. 

It starts with picking a team to root for (or is it - for which to root?).  I probably like Philly teams because I grew up here and my family rooted for the Phillies and the Eagles.  But I find that if someone I know well has a different special team, it can make me like that team, too.  However, there are certain teams that I can't imagine rooting for: The Cowboys, Red Sox, Mets come to mind and come to think of it - that might be it. 

I never developed game day superstitious behaviors, but I watch these games like I watch scary movies. First, I have a book in my lap that I can look at if I don't like what is going on. Second, I can escape to the kitchen if it gets too tense. Third, I listen to the announcers so I know when to look up and cheer or look away (Drat!). Finally, I am happiest when the game is an Eagles / Phillies blowout - then I can settle in and watch the game.

So there is a big game for the Eagles vs. the dreaded Cowboys this Saturday night.  I'm thinking that they will be better off if I don't watch the game.  I haven't been home to see many games this year - but I have watched BOTH losing games against the Cowboys.  Herein lies the problem.  Coincidence?  Perhaps not!  Maybe I'm cursed.

I am getting a complex about the teams I cheer for even casually.  Last night I liked Texas longhorns - they lost.  I rooted for Florida in the SEC championship game - they lost.  Cornell was beating Kansas (Basketball) until I started paying attention to the game - then Cornell lost.  Maybe if I employ reverse psychology and root for the team I don't want to win.........

That's it!  That will be my win-win scenario.  I root for the Cowboys and if they win, hey - that's who I rooted for and the curse is broken.  If they lose - the Eagles win!  Good news again! (Although there still might be a curse).

I don't know - I'm still playing around with my options......

Here is my favorite Eagles photo.  Thought I'd share it with you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

249 Days Left.

Ho hum - another year is gone and a new year begun.  I've never been one to get wrapped up in new beginnings or do-over dates.  I never made a New Year's resolution - at least I don't remember ever making one.  I think if it is worth the resolve, then do it when you realize it. 

I may not do resolutions - but I must be superstitious.  Today - like every other New Year's Day - we had pork and sauerkraut.  It was really good.

And what a difference a digital thermometer has made to my cooking!  Is that a beautiful pork roast, or what?  It (the thermometer) has eliminated dried out meats. 

So, now I officially have 249 days until I have to get a new driver's license photo.  Hate it!  Oh well, as a wise friend once said - You may not like how you look today - but 5 years from now - you'll marvel at how young you used to look.

Time to exercise......