Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baby You Can Drive My Car

My dad had the ability to drive me crazy. No, seriously. I am talking absolutely out of my mind, over the edge, certifiable loony tunes crazy. I don’t think he did it on purpose and he also didn’t do it all in one big push over the sanity edge. No, it was a slow drip, day after day…after day…after day…after day… We are talking Groundhog Day here!

One of the things out of the many the old coot would do is announce upcoming sights every time we were driving in the car. Sounds cute…and sweet…and old man darling, right? It was…the first 847 times. After that, I needed a valium just thinking about those daily trips we took.

We would get in the car and the conversation would go like this…every…single…time.

“Be careful backing up out of this driveway. Do you want me to back the car out of the garage for you so you don’t hit anything?”

“Um, no dad, thanks but I think I can handle it.”

“Suit yourself.”

Then we would head down the street.

“You’re driving awfully fast. There are little kids on the street. You better be careful.”

“I’m only going 20 miles an hour, dad. You watch for the little kids. They’re worth 20 points each.”

“Ah, don’t start that foolishness again. 20 points. What’s wrong with you?”

“Indeed, what is wrong with me?”

That would get his mind off the road and onto what was wrong with me long enough for us to reach the highway. Then, the actual FUN would begin.

“See that cemetery? It’s a Mexican cemetery.”

“Dad, that is not a Mexican cemetery. It’s a cemetery for anybody that’s dead. They only discriminate if you’re still breathing.”

“Whatever.” …………. “Look at those cows! I use to have a ranch with 1,000 head of cattle. Do you remember that?”

“No because you didn’t. You had 100 baby calves that we had to bottle feed. I know because I slept in the barn with them.”

“You’re crazy!”

“Yes, I am. Next point.”

“Morgan Road…County Line…Council Road…Rockwell Avenue …there’s a Taco Bell…Home Depot…IHOP…Did I ever tell you about the time I was in Tijuana and I created the Caesar Salad?”

Yep, these are the all too true conversations I enjoyed with my dad every time we got in the car which was every day. I never thought I’d say this but I really missed those drives to the edge of insanity after he died. Then I met Jesse. Jesse is my 93 year old friend. We hang out four times a week and go driving quite often. Here is today’s vehicular conversation between Jesse and me.

“Be careful backing up out of this driveway. Do you want me to back the car out of the garage for you so you don’t hit anything?”

“Um, no Jesse, thanks but I think I can handle it.”

“Alright then.”

“You’re driving awfully fast. If a cop sees ya, you‘ll get a ticket. You better be careful.”

“I’m only going 25 miles an hour, Jesse. The speed limit is 25 so I’m good.”

“You’re good? I didn’t ask if you were good. I said ya need to slow down.”

“Indeed, what is wrong with me? Slowing down…”

Once we reached the highway, the actual FUN began.

“See those cows? Oh no, you can‘t see em cuz you‘re driving so fast.”

“I’m doing 50 in a 55 zone. That’s not really fast, silly.”

“Well, drive 35 in here. That’s what I do so I can enjoy the scenery. Look at those horses over there.”

“Now Jesse, if I drive 35 in a 55 zone, I will get arrested and sent to prison for driving too slow. You don‘t want me to go to prison do you?”

“Prison? Well, I’ll be! You’re funny!”

“Yes, I am. Next point.”

“There‘s a red roof…Now, that’s a green roof… Well, I’ll be, look at that blue roof. Did I ever tell you about the time I was in Hawaii and Don Ho took me to dinner?”

I can’t wait for my turn in the passenger seat. Did I ever tell you about the time….

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Try To Pharisee It My Way

A few days ago, I posted this. It was the honest ramblings of my searching heart. I received some encouraging and concerned responses, including some emails from people I love who are very concerned about my state of thinking. Honestly, this surprised me because I didn’t think what I wrote was all that shocking. Actually, I can think of other things I have written that should have had people calling the loony bin for an immediate delivery of a straightjacket. Anyway, I have been thinking about how to honestly answer so, here are some of my answers as honest as I know how to be.

My cousin Cher wrote ~

So now a pastor? Hugs to you, maybe you are just having a tough time transitioning, losing your parents, Living with adult children (that alone will make you look at yourself as if you are crazy)it also could be that they make you think you are. Also Kelly is getting ready for another MD appointment. This will pass so again I am sending hugs and wishing you happy reflecting or should I say transitioning which ever way that sends you. EAT CHOCOLATE. Love ya cuz, Cher

My response ~

A pastor? Are you crazier than I am? Haven’t I screwed up enough people’s lives without you encouraging me to lead a flock straight over a cliff? You are right though. Dad’s one year dead anniversary is fast approaching and this orphan thing is not working for me. My parents are so selfish, leaving me here alone to deal with life. I’m not ready to be left alone. I’m not. Stupid parents anyway. Who needs them? Me…. whimper, whimper. The adult children living with us….yeah. They are great. No, really, they are. Actually, they are the favorites of ours out of the entire litter. Did I mention they read this blog? As for Kelly and her cancer and constant trips to MDA in order to keep breathing….again, selfish. What about me? Doesn’t she realize I have needs to? Did I mention she is my favorite sister? I can’t remember if we are speaking this week and she may be reading this.

One last thing, about the EAT CHOCOLATE command. What is wrong with you damn Swiss women? Food does not fix everything. My emotional needs will not be met through overfilling my stomach. Have you learned nothing from our mother’s mistakes of the past? Now, I am so upset thinking about our dead mothers, I can no longer respond to your comment. Going to make a meatloaf and a chocolate cake. I’m feeling very hungry all of a sudden. Love you!

JJ wrote ~

I realized that I don't have to believe in organized religion to believe in God.

My response ~

That’s exactly what I am talking about, JJ. I have been a part of organized religion my entire life. Well, except the six years I was a part of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Damn ‘70s! I just don’t think I want to DO church anymore. I want to BE the church. I am ready for a real relationship with God based on what He says, not what people are telling me I have to believe. If the churches can’t even agree on who God is or what He wants, how do I even choose who to listen to? Why is it wrong to want to listen to what God says instead? James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” That’s what I want. True religion from God’s view. I’m not against going to church. I like going to church. I just don’t think we know as much as we think we do.

Brian Miller wrote ~

many would say questioning is bad...honestly i love it...for me, in reading your words the problem is in equating it to trying hard to be really good which has something but not necessarily the most important thing to me in my spirituality. if it was i would be in a lot of trouble. it would be like saying you tied hard to do things for your hubby, not necessarily with him. and i imagine that would get old pretty quick. let us know about your journey...i look forward to reading and riding along...

My response ~

Right Brian! I am beginning to see that God isn’t asking me to be good, He is asking me to just be, as in be still and let him be God so I don’t have to be. You know I think I am Him sometimes and therefore I simply must control everything. I know, I need therapy. Anyway, just being is so much harder than I ever realized.

Nicole wrote ~

…I finally gave up on the books and decided that I am me, good and bad. Happy, sad, really pissed off and the life of the party…I do believe that you can believe in something greater and not have to be religious. Or part of a religion. I also believe that it shouldn't define you…Dig deep to find what you believe. And make it for you, not for anyone else.

My response ~

I would dare to say we have probably given up on some of the same books but you are right, Nic, we have got to get to the place of accepting who we are, just like we are, the good and the bad. God made us, He knew what He was doing, and there is a purpose for every bit of the crazy in us. That, I believe! As for the religious part, I don’t ever want to be religious again. I want to be real. The Pharisees were religious. Jesus was real. Big difference from my view. I have made a much better Pharisee than reflection of Christ for most of my adult life and it has defined me. I differ with you a bit on this point. I think what we believe, no matter what it is, does tend to define us whether we like it or not. I just want to make sure that the things that are the definition of me are accurate. Digging deep…for me!

Ain’t for city gals wrote ~

You know when we start hitting menopause we lose all that wonderful estrogen and we just don't want to caretake or nurture anymore…The word GUILT is no longer in your vocabulary!…Our brains really do get re-wired.

My response ~

What?? This is just menopause? Well, for heavens sake, somebody send me some estrogen already!! Seriously though, I did the menopause thing years ago due to an emergency hysterectomy at 30. I am pretty sure this crazy is just the real me.

Teresa wrote ~

have you been reading my mind??? we are definitely on the same wavelength in many areas...When you find the answers, let me know what "we" found. OK???

My response ~

I will let you know what I find but you better be letting me know what you find. We are all on this sinking ship together, sister!

Kfred wrote ~

You are NOT going to make me repost my reply to you when you are down, are you? You remember, the one where I pledge, among other things, to help:

When you are blue -- I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

When you are scared -- I will rag on you about it every chance I get.

When you are worried -- I will tell you horrible stories
about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.

When you fall -- I will point and laugh at your clumsy ass.

I do these things because I like you (and i don't even know you!)

Imagine what would happen if I knew you.

My response ~

You would make a great pastor!

Marie wrote ~

Okay Girlfriend, pull up those big girl panties and give up that guilt thang! YOU, are an amazing person....and somewhat of a masochist...sorry, someone had to point it out ;)…Kids will come and go…remember who has taken care of you all these years and never left you....regardless of your insistence to torture yourself in any way possible...just sayin :)

My response ~

I so seriously love you. I absolutely, positively love you. Why did I ever move so far away from you, my beautiful, tall, skinny, blond, dear friend? Was it so people would stop thinking we were twins? I don’t know. Anyway, thank you for slapping some sense into me. Guilt is a waste of time, much like dieting. Both will eventually kill me if I don’t wise up. It’s the masochist in me. I need to be nicer to me. I just tend to get on my nerves so very often. I can be quite annoying…but you already know that. As for the revolving kids…go already! You’re right as usual though. I do know who has taken care of me and never left me. Thanks for reminding me. I love you, Marie!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Unrequited Love

I spent the day with Jesse today. He is such a wonderful man. I feel quite lucky to have found him in my life. It never fails when we are together, he always wants to hold my hand, tell me how lovely I am and that he wishes he could marry someone just like me. He always adds he knows I am married and would never want to disrespect my husband however, I am pretty sure he is flirting with me. It’s the way he looks at me, laughs at all my jokes and wants to walk arm in arm everywhere we go. Then there are the things he says to me.

“You are one of the nicest women I have ever met.”

“Thank you, Jesse!”

“I really mean it. I so enjoy spending the day with you. You always make me feel like I really matter to you.”

“You really do matter to me, Jesse.”

“Well, I appreciate that. I’d marry you if you weren’t already married.”

“Well, Jesse, I don’t think Bob would like me marrying somebody else but thanks for thinking of me.”

“Don’t worry. I will always behave like a gentleman when we’re together. By the looks of your arms, I think you could deck me.”

“Um……thank you?”

“Besides, I’m ninety-three years old. How much trouble could I really cause you?”

“Well, Jesse, I have a funny feeling if left to your own devices, you could cause more trouble than anyone could imagine. I’m just saying….”

There May Be Snow on The Roof
But There's Still Fire in The Furnace

Monday, September 27, 2010

Butts and Ashes ~ Revisited

A year ago, I began this blog. Yep, one entire year. Where does the time go? Last year, I was caring for my dad and I needed an outlet for all that was going on in my head. I really don't remember where the idea of a blog came from but I'm thankful for it. Over the last year, I've written some things I really loved, some I still think are pure crap. What I wrote seemed to make people think, laugh or seriously mad. And still, it was all worth it, for me anyway. Butts and Ashes has taken me in some directions I didn't expect and I still have no clue what I am doing with my writing most days. Anyway, here's the first post I ever wrote, if you're interested. If you're not, well.....go do something else.

No, I am not a smoker although I have given it consideration during times of great stress. I was bemoaning to a friend one day that my life seemed to come down to two things, butts and ashes. Having somehow been elected the family caregiver for the last twenty plus years, I can assure you, I have seen a great deal of both. The funny thing is, I don't think I would have had it any other way. I have come to realize what an incredible gift it is to love and care for someone from end to end.

I never intended to be the butt wiper of so many relatives. I also never intended to make so many funeral arrangements or carry so many ashes home in the back of my car. But then, I never intended not to either. The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus says intention is something that one hopes or intends to accomplish. Now here is the absolutely amazing thing about my lack of intention to be a caregiver. Finding myself in this role has led me to more than I could have hoped for. Being a caregiver has also accomplished more in me than I would have ever imagined possible.

In the past, I have cared for my aunt, my mother, my mother-in-law, my uncle, an elderly neighbor, my sister and now my father. Of course, this does not include our seven children I raised or my grandchildren. No, this blog is about caring for the people you never intended to care for. The people who cared for you first really. It's an entirely different kind of gig for those of you who have never had the opportunity or privilege to do it.

Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting this last year. It means more to me than it should. I hope you'll keep doing both.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Self Exams ~ Not For The Faint Of Heart

I can’t seem to stop thinking about my life lately. I’m sure many people think about their lives on a daily basis. The difference is, I never use to think about it. I just lived it. Maybe that’s part of the reason I am so bent on examining every minute detail of it now. As I was just living it day by day without thinking about it, things were happening that I simply ignored. Life was happening and I simply ignored it and went about my day. And now, I am here. So where is here?

Here is miserable at the moment. But since misery loves company, according to the experts anyway, you’re all invited to listen in. Life feels completely out-of-control. Financially, physically, emotionally but more importantly, for me anyway, life is in a tailspin spiritually. I suppose some might say these feelings are just a sign of the times. It’s because of the state of our economy, or the state of our world, it’s because of terrorists or Muslims building mosques near ground zero or because Obama is in office. Ok, I admit, I really need to stop watching the news hoping for answers. I am pretty sure, no, I am positive, none of those things can explain why I am so retrospective at the moment. Believe it or not, none of those things freaks me out. Oh, I have opinions about it all, just ask anyone who has known me for five minutes. I just don’t blame life for my life. I blame me.

I truly believe when we live our lives with integrity and honesty, choosing to be present in each moment we are given, things will go generally well for us. I don’t mean we won’t have hard times or sickness or sadness. I do mean we will walk through each day able to make it with our heads up knowing tomorrow is a new day and today and all it holds is not all there is. Believing this and living it seem to have escaped me somewhere along the way. I feel lost.

One of the things I have said a million times to my children and to others is, “Know what you believe and why you believe it.” Well, I thought I knew what I believed and why I believed it but all of a sudden I am just not sure anymore. Is it because we are in the toilet financially at the moment? Is it because I have fifty extra pounds on my 5’2” frame and all I can think about is, “How the hell did that happen?” Or maybe it’s because I have a child that is completely lost and wandering and hating every fiber of my being right now and there is not a thing I can do about it. I’m not even sure I would if I could which makes me less than the perfect parent I have always hoped I would be. Maybe that’s the problem and the answer.

Perfection. I have focused on being perfect for as long as I can remember. Knowing my parents or teachers were disappointed in me when I was a kid just about killed me. I never wanted to let anyone down. Ever. Then, as a teenager, I lost my mind and went wild. I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. That season lasted about six years until I found Christ at nineteen years old. I believe this is where I really screwed things up in my thinking.

For the last thirty-three years, I have run myself into the ground trying to be good, trying to be a “Christian”, trying to please God, my family, my friends, my neighbors, strangers, the mailman. I have an endless supply of guilt that fuels me on a daily basis. Guilt for never being good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, pleasing enough. Guilt that reminds me daily what a crappy mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, fill in the blank, I am. Where does this guilt come from? I have no idea. Maybe I just don’t want to know.

Anyway, that brings me here. Today. Rethinking life. My life. Ok, everybody relax. I am not leaving my husband, disinheriting my children, (they’ll each still get their $1.75 when I croak), or trading the minivan in for a sports car. That would be silly. Have you ever seen a fat, middle-aged woman stuffed behind the wheel of one of those things? Ridiculous! I am also not becoming an atheist. I am, however, seriously questioning what I believe and why I believe it. I want to live a life of integrity. I want to be able to look in the mirror and honestly say to the person looking back at me, “You, my friend, are the real deal.”

Now that would be worth an examined life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hair ~ Not The Musical

One of the blogs I follow is My Life In Purple. She is a great little gal, young and cute and full of spunk. We have absolutely nothing in common and yet she fascinates me. Sometimes after visiting her blog, I find myself wanting to exercise, dress better and have an appletini (if I drank which I don't but I might if it made me look like MLIP). Anyway, awhile back she started Ten Inches For The Cure. For October's Breast Cancer Awareness month, she asked women to grow their hair out to meet the donation requirements (10 inches) and then donate it on October 1st to make wigs for children suffering from medical hair loss. That got me thinking because I did that very thing three years ago to honor my little sister who has cancer. By the way, my sister Kelly does have cancer, it does not have her. She has it by the throat and is choking the life out of it day by day. Much like she does to me every time we talk. Did I say that out loud?  Anyway....

I am chopping my locks off on October 1st and donating it to Ten Inches For The Cure. When I do this, I will be thinking of and honoring five women.

The first is my sister Kelly. You remember her, the Courtney Love look-a-like. And NO.....I will not post that picture I posted HERE...and HERE...and HERE! That would be wrong so stop begging because I won't do it. But I will chop my locks off in honor of her. She is one of the bravest, toughest, most robust Swiss women I know....and I know a few robust Swiss women, believe you me!

That's Kelly in the orange. She hates this picture because she is sitting in a wheelchair. She worries about what people will think. Ummm....they'll think we all look really stupid taking a picture with a fake talking donkey? By the way, why is my boob in your ear? Just wondering....

Anyway....the next two people I am doing this in honor of are Silver Strands and her mother. Both these women are amazing. Both inspire me. Both make me yearn to be a better person. Seriously. Denalee's mother was diagnosed with cancer. Being her only child with silver hair, Denalee decided to shave her head and donate her silver strands to make a wig for her mother to wear until mom's own silver strands grew back. Like I said....amazing! So, I am donating my own strands not yet silver in honor of these two beautiful women.

Confession....I may be a bit jealous that SOME women look good with or without hair. I'm not naming names....just saying.....

Finally, I am chopping my brownielocks off to honor my daughter-in-law Amy and her sister Katherine. A year ago in August, their mother and my friend Ellen lost her battle to breast cancer. This year, Amy and Katherine did the 3 day Susan G Komen walk in honor of their mother. That's right, Amy and Katherine walked 60 miles in 3 days in memory of their mother and to raise money for a cure. I could not be prouder of you girls. It still makes me tear up.

Amy and Katherine. How did I get so lucky to have these girls in my life?

So, there it is. The plan. The reason. are the before pictures.

Sing with me!!!

Gimme a head with hair

Long beautiful hair

Shining, gleaming,

Streaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there hair

Shoulder length or longer

Here baby, there mama

Everywhere daddy daddy
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair

Flow it, show it

Long as God can grow it

My hair

Monday, September 13, 2010

Do You Pray?

I have a blog friend that I truly love. Her name is Unknown Mami. She is funny and serious, ridiculous and profound, honest and kind and real. Her blog is one of my favorites because she is one of my favorite people. Mami has reached out to me in friendship through email at times when I really needed a friend. Now, it's my turn to reach out for her.

Mami is in her 17th week of pregnancy with her second little baby. She received some very bad news today. It appears her baby has no kidneys. I am so angry and scared and not wanting to believe this is happening. But I am also not ready to believe it.

Here is what I do believe. I believe that God is bigger than anything that comes our way. I believe He can heal our bodies and our hearts. I believe prayer works. I don't know what you believe but I am asking for everyone that reads this to please pray. I don't care what you believe or what faith you are or aren't. I believe God hears our prayers even when we have no faith. So, will you please pray for my friend. Pray for a miracle. Pray for comfort and courage for the days ahead. Please....just pray.

Oh, one last thing. If you know Mami or you don't, please stop by and let her know you care. We are all in this life together and we really do need one another. Thanks guys.

Unknown Mami

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Labor Of Love

We have seven children. That’s right, seven. If that fact alone isn’t enough to explain the true meaning of Labor Day, well I just don’t know what is. I am not even talking about the moaning and groaning part of delivery although that was involved with all seven. Even our four adopted ones involved plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth before they were delivered into our arms permanently. No, I am referring to the day in and day out labor of loving our children. Believe me, it’s a labor of love daily. One I wouldn’t change for anything.

This is the norm in our house. Constant people. Good times!

I know I have mentioned our children throughout this blog, showing embarrassing photos and revealing intimate details of their foolishness. You’re welcome kids! But today, I thought I would focus on one kid in particular and the recent labor of love we were involved in on his behalf. Yes, I believe that is what I shall do.

This is our youngest son, Andrew. Isn’t he pretty?

Well, a few months ago, Andrew married his long-time sweetheart, Tori.

Aren’t they pretty?

We live in Oklahoma. The wedding was in California. So we got to travel in a ridiculously large group, mostly because we are a ridiculously large group. Sorry Southwest Airlines and of course, we will be happy to find another means of transportation in the future.


Anyway, once we hit the streets of Cali, it was off to my sister Debi’s house. She spoiled us rotten. It was like being back at my parents home. Seriously. Deb got mom’s gift for hospitality and that is the truth. It was wonderful.

This is my sister Debi holding our youngest grandson, Cavan.

For the next few days, we were included in some of the preparations. We didn’t have much to do because Tori’s family had organized just about everything before we arrived. They did an absolutely amazing job putting it all together. It was really beautiful.

Friday night we had the best time at the rehearsal dinner. Anyway, I think we had the best time. I remember margaritas and karaoke and someone singing Stand By Your Man…really loud and a bit off key. Ok, a lot off key. They say it was me but I don’t drink and I don’t sing so I am not sure I believe any of it.

Then Saturday morning, it was a flurry of activity getting ready for the main event.


We were told repeatedly, for months beforehand right up to the very moment of walking down the grassy aisle, that all we needed to do was relax and enjoy ourselves. That was it. No special instructions. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. This should have been our first warning. Anyway, we did as we were told, relaxed and enjoyed and went with the flow of things.


As Andrew walked me down to be seated, he forgot it was a fairly steep incline. He also forgot he is tall and I am not. The crucial thing he forgot is that I never wear hose and I have tree stumps for legs. I finally had to tell him to slow down.


Then he said, “Mom, not now. Just keep smiling and walking.”

Then I said, “Andrew Luis, if you don’t slow down right now, my inner thighs are going to spontaneously combust and people will talk about your wedding for years to come… and not in a good way.”

Then he said, “Mom, I will get you for this!“ Then he slowed down.

Then I thought, “I aint skeered! What can he do to me besides kill me and there are too many witnesses."


So, finally everyone was seated and the bride showed up and things moved along beautifully.


The ceremony was sweet and touching and there may have been a tear or two. Bob is such a crybaby. Then it was over and the music started playing and the new and improved Mr. and Mrs. Hansen danced up the aisle. I thought, “How sweet is that! They didn’t tell us they were doing that. Very cute!”

 Then the bridesmaids and groomsmen danced up the aisle and I thought, “How sweet is that! They didn’t tell us they were doing that. Very cute!”


Then Tori’s parents danced up the aisle and I thought, “ What the hell!!! They didn’t tell us they were doing that! Are we suppose to dance up the aisle? We can’t dance! Somebody kill me now!!”


The I leaned over to Bob and said in my most wife of thirty-four years voice, “Listen up, cowboy! You better dance!! Do you hear me? Dance!!”

To which Bob replied, “Wha….dance??? Marla!!!” To which I replied with The Look!!

And so…..

We danced….Well, one of us danced while the other one shuffled behind trying to hide his two-step behind the crazed moves of his spouse.

He made up for it later.


And so did his son.

It was a great wedding. Everyone got in the act.

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Hansen.

We hope you like labor!