Thursday, May 30, 2013


Last spring I bought a van.  It's a Honda Odyssey, and I got a great deal on it because it had hit a deer.

You can read a little about it here (but beware... that's a post I wrote when I was still quite sick, undiagnosed and unmedicated for my lupus).

Lately, I've been spending a great deal of time in this van.  Last night was the third night in a row that I got to sleep in my own bed after many nights away, and I tell you, it has been wonderful to be home.

My most recent trip was a whirlwind jaunt to Illinois to look for a house with Shawn.  Prior to that, I'd gone to western Pennsylvania and also to Minnesota through Cleveland.  Actually, I've been seeing quite a lot of Cleveland lately, and Interstate 90.  Incidentally: Madison, Wisconsin is a beautiful city.

Back to the van.  Ever since we bought it, it's had a jiggle, a vibration, a shake.  This is unnoticeable when driving around town and neighborhoods, but it increases exponentially on the highway.  I attribute it to the collision with a deer that lurks in the van's past history.  If you get over 80 MPH, the drive smooths out, but, of course, that's not safe either.  So we drive, and shake, and 6-12 hours later, when I get out, my body continues to quiver for quite a long time.

Monday, on our way home from Illinois, the first seven hours of the drive were not so bad.  The worst thing was all the dead deer.  I've never seen so many dead deer.  There were big deer, small deer, mangled deer, bloated deer, deer by the median and deer by the shoulder.  Strangely, on Saturday, on our way out, there had been hundreds of police pulling people over everywhere.  On Monday, on our way home, multitudinous dead deer had replaced the multitudinous police forces.

As the sun set and the highway darkened, the deer carcasses took on a more macabre tone.  We didn't see them in the same way; the shadows hid the bodies.  The van whizzed along through the black night, vibrating.  At random, unpredictable intervals the fan of illumination from our headlights swept across blood on the road, and our eyes would follow the bloodstain to the humped over carcass of a deer off on the side.  During the day, I never noticed the blood, but at night it glistened red under the moving lights on the black asphalt, thickening near the roadkill.  It was a dark night.

In Buffalo we noticed that we were out of gas, but we decided that it would be quicker to continue on to the next thruway service center, rather than getting off and searching for a gas station in the city.  Going west into Buffalo, there are a couple of service centers right before you arrive.  However (and we should have known this), coming east out of Buffalo, there is not a service center for a good, long time.

Finally we saw the sign for the Pembroke service center in 15 miles.  The gas gauge was awfully completely registering empty, but we tightened our jaws and set our faces, praying under our breath, and continued on.  There was nothing else to do, and by the grace of God we arrived before the tank gave out.  After the darkness of the thruway, the bright lights and garish, cartoony red and orange signs for gas and soda assaulted our senses despite the relief it was to be there.  Between the lateness of the night, the vibrations of the van (now after more than nine hours), and the fast food I'd injudiciously eaten for dinner, I was feeling very carsick, with a strong stomach cramp.  We filled up and set out once again for our last lap.

I can never rest while I am in a vehicle.  I have to watch the road, as if by watching, by straining my eyes, I can somehow control our safety.  I huddled in my seat, arms crossed over my cramping midsection, and kept my eyes peeled out the dark windshield.  There was nothing, nothing, nothing, and then, from out of nowhere, a deer was standing in the middle of the road, silhouetted like a cardboard cut-out.  I saw bristled white and gray hairs on its side, illuminated by our headlights.  It was completely still, and its head was oddly down, as though it was grazing on the tar.  It was directly in front of us.

Shawn gasped as I screamed, low and guttural, the kind of scream that rakes your throat and almost gags you.  Shawn's strong hands grasped the steering wheel hard as he swerved onto the rumble strip on the shoulder as the quiet night filled with desperate noises, my scream, the thundering road, a horn honking long and mournful.  It was our horn, I found out later.  He'd squeezed the wheel so hard, the horn just sounded, almost as involuntarily as I had screamed.

He missed it.  And he got us back onto the road.  I cupped my fingers over my mouth and sucked deep breaths through them, trembling, thanking Jesus, worried for the cars behind us, sorry for the deer that would surely not live to see another sunrise.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Five things I wish I could do before I leave Syracuse...

1.  Ride the train in to NYC and see a Broadway show.  Twenty-five years in Syracuse NY, and during that time I have never once visited NYC nor seen a play on Broadway.  In a way, that's impressive.  Impressive, but rather sad.

2.  Go to Biscotti's, order something delicious and chocolate, sit at a table with coffee and desert and eat while looking out the window at North Salina Street.  I have never been to Biscotti's.  It seems as though most of the other members of my family have.

3.  Use my passport and drive to Montreal where I would spend a weekend trying to speak French, eating in sidewalk cafes and pretending to be in Paris.  I will never live as close to Montreal as I do now.

4.  Visit the historic house museum in Liverpool near the corner of 2nd and Sycamore.  I see it every year when we are in the village for the Memorial Day Parade, and sometimes other times too.  It never happens to be open when I am there.  I wish/hope/dream that someday I will write down the hours and visit it when it is open.  Or perhaps it is not even a museum anymore, and I am already too late.

5.  I would really like to see the University Hospital area near Almond and Adams finished and complete, not under construction.  I declare, during the entire 25 years that I have lived here, that area has been under construction and bedecked with temporary trailers, temporary chain link fences, piles of dirt, orange cones and miscellaneous construction equipment.  (I hope I have a better chance of achieving some of the other items on this list than I have of this one.)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

House showings -- 10 things I have learned

Note to self:  In your next life, don't put your house on the market during the week leading up to your son's college graduation.  That is all.  Maybe.

10 things I have learned:

1.  It is impossible to have everything perfect, all at once.  It's OK.

2.  When the viewers show up 35 minutes ahead of schedule, you may not be able to dry the clean dishes and put them away.  You may be stuck leaving them in the dish drainer.  This is not the end of the world, and you do not need to cry about it.

3.  After a viewing, you will return home to find some lights turned off (because you turned ALL of them on), and often the shower curtains will be rumpled.

4.  After a viewing, you will not find any information or feedback on Facebook, as much as you might wish for it to be there.

5.  Even when you know a good length of time in advance that people will be viewing your home, it is hard to master those last 20 minutes before you leave: polishing every counter and mirror, wiping the last doggie nose smudges off the sidelights by the front door, straightening the bathroom towels and making sure that a pie is in the oven, baking away at 325 degrees to give a nice, warm, homey smell and feel to the kitchen.  And swiffing the floor behind you on the way out the back door.

6.  Getting ready to leave your house in the hands of a realtor and his client makes your heart pound and your armpits sweat.  It just does.  This is not because you are doing anything wrong.

7.  It stinks when you work for 2 hours, cleaning, polishing, arranging... and then your neighbor tells you that the people only stayed and looked for about 10 minutes.  But, at least they were not no-shows.  It really stinks when you spend 2 hours cleaning, polishing and arranging for a no-show.

8.  If you want fresh flowers in your vases, carnations last a lot longer than tulips.

9.  Everybody has different taste.  This is OK.  You are not a bad person if you like old fashioned things and your buyer likes ultra modern.  The converse is also true.

10.  God is in control.  The house will sell to the people he has designed to buy it, at the time he designated for them to make the purchase.  So... no worries.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us...
                                             Acts 17:24-27

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


The house is clean.

It isn't perfectly clean, but it is empty.  It feels empty.

I literally jump when I go around the corner into the kitchen and come face-to-face with the bare, naked refrigerator which has been stripped of all its glory and the chronicles of our life.

David's desk has been removed from behind the sectional in the family room, leaving a large empty space and some dents in the carpet.

We took the leaf out of the kitchen table and put two of the chairs into the basement.  There's so much space in there now, it makes my stomach suck empty air.

I suppose there is mercy in this phase, this time of removing our personality, our us-ness, from our home.  Perhaps this will help us set our faces towards the new home God has for us, the one we have not quite discovered yet.

Last time I blogged, I wanted to post pictures of our house, not selling pictures, but pictures of the way it has looked as we have lived here.  I was in a rush, and the pictures were taking forever to load, and I gave up.

I will try again, not to get everything into one post, but to dig out a few pictures that express my heart.

The family room while DJ's desk was still in it.

Another view of the family room.

The kitchen table, already stripped down in size.

My kitchen before I "de-cluttered" the refrigerator.  
Personally, I like refrigerator clutter.  It is how I scrapbook.

Our dining room, which up until now was Shawn's office, and this is one change 
that I am not sad about... I love this room when it is done as a dining room. 

The dining room from the living room.

The sofa side of the living room (the piano is on the other side... 
I'll need to get a picture of that, too, before we leave).

The stairway, whose woodwork we just had redone in oak.

The study, where I sit and look out the window at my roses 
(except they aren't blooming yet).

My bedroom with its new wood floor.

It is not the most fantastically beautiful house in the world, but it is just the way I like it.  I get tired thinking about starting all over.  But it will be OK.

Monday, May 6, 2013

NOT the realtor's pictures

We took the kitchen table down to a four-seater from a six-seater.  I guess this is OK.  I wanted to get pictures of my house before I leave.  And I wanted to do it before the realtor got everything all sanitized, with the pictures on the refrigerator and such.  But the table has already been reduced.

The cherry tree in all its glory.

The front, a week ago...  the buds and blossoms exploded since then.

The daffodils, because I love them.  I will need to plant new ones at the next house.

Skipping to this one... too many problems uploading, not enough time.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Aaron and Bre's wedding

When we received the invitation, I didn't immediately pick up on why there was typewriter type in the background and the term "love story" in the copy.

A wedding at the YMCA of the Rockies.  This sounded very interesting.  As a child, I experienced most of my family vacations in Estes Park, Colorado.  On our one-year-anniversary, Shawn and I drove through Estes on a massive western road trip before we settled down to become responsible, employed members of society (well, anyway, Shawn is employed).

I had not been to Colorado in 24 years.  Now, the opportunity to reconnect with the vacationland of my youth, and see a bunch of family, and attend a beautiful wedding just sounded wonderful to me.

Of course, I should have been at home getting my house ready to put on the market.  However, Shawn was kind enough not to guilt trip me, and generous enough to make a way for us to go.

We flew on Friday, April 26.  It was a long day.  Colorado is nowhere near the east coast.  Laura also found this to be true, as she met us there after a very long layover in Dallas.

We rented a cabin at the YMCA, a cabin with a kitchen.  So we stopped at the grocery store on our way up (literally up).  This is the grocery store parking lot.  I could really like grocery shopping if it always afforded a view like this!

Shawn and I look pretty happy here at the Y, 
especially considering the intense day of travel we had just undergone.

Likewise, Laura looks quite perky with the mountain sun shining on her face.  
There was plenty of sun, even through the scattered clouds.

Saturday morning was even sunnier, though,
with hardly a single cloud in the brilliant blue sky.  
I had to include this photo,
because I get such a kick out of the shadow of the photographer.  
You can tell that we come from a land of clouds,
where the photographer does not often have to think about
where her shadow is when she is shooting.
Here, Shawn and the photographer are on the deck of our cabin.

This was the view from our cabin's deck.  Unbelievable!  
When we drove up, Shawn said, "You have got to be kidding!"

Here you see the back of our cabin and our sweet rental car upgrade.
There was snow on the ground, but the air was warm and dry.

Besides resting up after our long trip,
making breakfast, and getting ready for the wedding, 
there was not a ton of time for recreational activities on Saturday morning.
We did stop over at the chapel
to hear Uncle Paul practicing the piano in preparation for the big event.  
Auntie Alison turned his pages.
Shortly thereafter, we returned to the cabin to gussy up, 
and then drove over to my sister's cabin to pick up my parents for the ceremony.

Cute touches... outside the chapel there was a table with souvenir golf balls, 
printed with Bre and Aaron's names and the wedding date.
They also provided a list of things for the guests to do
between the ceremony and the reception.  
You could mini-golf, or go on a scavenger hunt,
or choose from a number of other activities.

There was a lovely trail mix bar with paper bags for you to mix up your own trail mix.
Bottled water was also available.  A lovely afternoon snack.
They kindly demonstrated concern for their guests' comfort and enjoyment.

And then...
                it was time for the wedding to begin.

Here is Grandma.  She may not have been supposed to be in her spot quite yet, officially.  
You must understand.  She wanted to hear Uncle Paul play the piano.

Aaron the Groom, 
and the-mother-of-the-groom, my sister, otherwise know as Auntie Beth.

Aaron hugs Grandpa while Grandma looks on.  Weddings are times of much hugging.
More pictures of hugs will appear later.

I was sitting on the groom's side (Aaron is my nephew, after all), 
and the pictures will now be from a remarkably static vantage point for awhile.
I like this one from behind of Uncle Greg, Auntie Beth, Grandpa and Grandma.

There were ten bridesmaids and ten groomsmen.  I never did get a picture of all of them, 
but here are eight of the ten bridesmaids.

A close up of Cousin Abigail, because she is my niece.  When they were little, 
she and Shannon were sometimes asked if they were twins, when they were together, 
which was not often.  Abigail is tall, like my kids.

I was too close to the groomsmen to get any good pictures of them.  
Here is a blurry one of Cousin Ben, who was the best man.
He appears to be taking this very seriously.

Ben had a lot to do.  He also sang.  He has a beautiful voice. 

Bre hugs Beth.

Bre hugs Greg.

Aaron hugs Beth.

Of course there were other hugs that I did not get because of timing, vantage point, etc.
Besides, hugs, there were (naturally) some kisses.
Below, you can see a time lapse of the bridal kiss...

The reception was also lovely.  Here the theme came clear to me.  
Typewriter text.  "Love story."  Old books.  
A literary love story.  Could anything be nicer?
(The head table had triangular banners spelling out "HAPPILY EVER AFTER."
Of course, I did not get a picture of that.)
Don't you love how they cut the serif font table numbers out of 
the pages of the book and then folded them up?

I also love pussy willows.  
When I was quite small, my Grandma Rainbow (Great Grandma) used to lead me out into her yard and show me the pussy willows in springtime. "When the pussy willows come out," she said, "you know spring is here."  Then she would take my little finger and guide me to feel the soft fuzz.  
I love pussy willows.

(By the way, that is Uncle Paul and Auntie Alison up there, behind the pussy willows.
We love them, too.)

Shawn and Cousin Daniel.  
Shawn is skeptical that I can get a decent picture with his smartphone.  
He is a wise man.

A blurry photo of Laura and Cousin Esther.

Laura and me... proof that we were there.

And the cake, which was fantastic: layers of carrot and chocolate, your choice.
Because why would anyone ever eat white cake?
Happily ever after indeed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Happy May Day!

I like to celebrate   May Day 
with   May flowers.

I will be back to write more sometime when I have a little more time.