Thursday, December 31, 2009

Aunt Dorothy Was Right!

After writing my last post about missing our family gatherings, look what I found when searching through my photo album for the picture to go along with my previous post: a couple notes from 1962 that I had sent to my Aunt Martha and Aunt Dorothy. I was just 9 years old at the time I wrote these, but my aunts were very pleased with them. I remember those animal stickers I had too!

Here's what I wrote to my Aunt Martha:
I enclosed a sheet of paper with a picture of a house and tree and flowers on the one side (nothing spectacular) but on the other side it said "Happy Martha's Day."

Here's what I wrote to my Aunt Dorothy:


The best part though was the typewritten note enclosed from my Aunt Dorothy! I can't figure out what I was thinking on some of those problems, but my aunt said they were all right!

She was right when she wrote: "I am going to keep this first letter I received from you and when you are grown up, you will like like to read it too."

Finding these with her letter was so sweet. I did enjoy reading them too now that I am grown up and it seemed like I had a little visit with them at the holidays after all! I thought it was cool that the envelopes were still saved too! Postage was only 4 cents back then!

Do you encourage your children to write to their aunts, uncles or other family members? Things written at the time may not seem like much, but finding them later is a sweet thing. I remember when I was cleaning out my dad's house after he died, going through the dresser drawers I found some notes my grandma Nieman wrote when she was living with us. She wrote that she liked hearing me play the piano and that I did real good tonight. I never knew she liked it when I played. I wish she had told me then!

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

What's Your Holiday Wish?



My Holiday Wish is Being with Family and Friends




The holidays are near and dear to your heart. You don't need much to make you happy this time of year.
As long as you're able to be near the people you love most, you are content. It's really that simple.
You want nothing more than a full house of people celebrating the season. It doesn't matter if it's your house or not, just as long as everyone is there.
And if someone doesn't happen to be around during the holidays, you think about him or her often. You get very sentimental this time of year.



and share your results in the comments.


This quiz is right on for me. I do get sentimental around the holidays and think about years past when I spent holidays with my parents, grandparents, aunts, family and friends.

Thinking back, when we were kids we'd each get a game and then we spent the afternoon learning to play them all. It was always a challenge to decide what to buy for my parents. We always managed to find something they could use though. After I got married, one Christmas they came to our house, but usually we would go to theirs because it was easier on them. After my mom died and my dad had all the cats, we would always buy things for them. My dad got a big kick out of watching them play with new toys or lounging in their new beds.

We went to my sister's several years which was always fun. I always liked buying for her kids. When her four kids grew up though, it got to the point where we would give them gift certificates and they'd give us gift certificates. After that, I suggested we just get together and don't bother exchanging gifts, it seemed silly. So that's what we started doing. She had the biggest house so it was logical for us to all go over there.

When we were kids, we always looked forward to going to grandma's for Christmas. I had three unmarried aunts who also lived with my dad's mother and they would always give us nice things. I remember thinking how funny they were because every year when we visited at Christmas, they would still have packages sitting there that they hadn't opened and they'd say every year, "They look so pretty, we hate to open them.!" I never understood that! Of course, the adults were at the big dining room table and us kids were off to the side at a smaller "kids" table usually, but when we got older, they included us at the big table. I liked that!

For New Year's Eve we used to get together with my mom's best friend's family. They had a daughter my age and two older boys, one of which I sort of had a crush on. He was always nice to me and even taught me how to play Chess. I always looked forward to these times because it was so much fun playing games together.

I am glad we have movies, video and photographs of past Christmases. I like watching the videos especially because I can hear my parents voices and it seems they are back at least for that little time. I encourage you to take pictures at your get-togethers.

This year we are going to visit with Gerard's sister and her adult children. I think it's very nice of her to invite us to join them for Christmas dinner. I think I'll bring a camera along, maybe even my Flip for some video.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and hope you enjoy being with your families for the holidays! Make the most of them while you can!

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Am A Bit of A Procrastinator, What About You?


Every year I debate if I'm going to send Christmas cards and then end up doing it. I know it's nice to hear from people at Christmas time, especially ones we don't see throughout the year, but I know our cards just get tossed into a basket. Then next year we throw them away to make room for the new ones. I update my "card" list throughout the year and usually buy cards for next year when they go on sale after Christmas.

When I used to ask my dad if he was going to send Christmas cards this year, he always would. He'd always be sure to buy a religious one to send. They are getting harder and harder to find. Most say "Happy Holidays" or "Holiday Season." Many have very cute pictures of animals or beautiful scenery, but those aren't really projecting the true meaning of Christmas. Therefore, I too always buy the religious ones. I figure if the Christians don't, who will.

I used to call my dad a "fuss budget" because he always made extra unnecessary work for himself in my opinion. He'd fuss with stupid things. His Christmas card "ritual" is one example. He kept track on paper of who he got cards from and would make sure to send them one back if they weren't on his list. But just a check mark wasn't good enough. He put the date he received a card. Then he'd also have a list of people that he sent cards to and keep going over and over his lists.

Harry sent out cards every year in December. The last six years or so of his life, I printed out mailing labels for him so he didn't have to write as much. It was a bit difficult for him to write because of arthritis in his fingers. The last Christmas before he died (2006), he got behind schedule and didn't get his cards out on time because of the medication he had been taking that made him so drowsy that he'd fall asleep for long periods through the day and wouldn't get anything done. I felt bad for him and offered to do them for him, but he wouldn't hear of it. He said, "Oh no, I can do it." I suggested that it wasn't mandatory and that maybe he just shouldn't bother with it this year, but he said, "Oh, I want to send them out so people know I'm still alive. Otherwise, they may wonder."

So, his last Christmas, came and went and he didn't get his cards done in time but sent them out after Christmas so people would know he was still alive. He said he wanted to put a note inside explaining to the people why his cards were sent so late so I offered to type up little notes for him to just insert inside. After I explained he could tell me what he wanted it to say and I would type it up, and print them from the computer, he finally understood and started dictating away. He died the following February, two days after Valentine's Day. (This is reposted from 12/22/08)



To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Last Birthday Present From Dad

Today is my birthday so I thought this post would be appropriate. After we bought the computer back from dad since he couldn't really use it well, he then paid for a printer for me and gave me a beautiful cabinet he had made a long time ago for the church. He had told the church board that if they could have it for as long as they wanted to use it, but if they didn't use it, he would like it back. For years it was used in his back room but he gave it to me to use as my printer cabinet when I got a printer.

My cat that I got from dad's as a kitten, Spunky Doodle, likes to crawl inside it whenever I open the door. I'm so glad I took her in. I'm sure my dad would be very pleased that his former kitten enjoys the cabinet too!

video


(See my earlier related post about teaching dad how to use the computer at Seniors and Computer)

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dear Dad, Happy Birthday!

Dear Dad,

Happy birthday! I love thinking about you still and knowing you are with our Lord Jesus and no longer having to take any pills or worry about what to eat. I wonder exactly what you do up there in heaven and if there are any cats around.

This has been quite a year for us. I wish you could see how much getting our house insulated has helped. I think you would have been proud of me for doing that. Something you probably would think was silly of us that we did last summer was to play softball again. We didn’t play very well, but we certainly had fun. It felt good to play again.

We got a dog in June! She gets along fine with our cats—they even do noses sometimes. When she barks loud, the cats just disappear for awhile but at least she doesn’t chase them. She’s a wonderful dog and Gerard really likes walking with her. She’ll go with him no matter what the weather, unlike me. Wish you could meet her, she’s a great dog!

In July I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. That was the worst part of our year, but fortunately it was discovered early and hadn’t spread. In fact, in a way it proved to be a good thing. I got to take off work with full pay after the lumpectomy and then just go back part-time from Oct. 24 through Dec. 19. It came at a good time because work was so slow I got very bored and so really enjoyed being off. I sure look forward to retirement! The other good news was that I did not need Chemo, just radiation treatments for 33 days which didn’t hurt at all, didn’t take much time because they were at Parma Hospital, so close by. It was sort of a hassle having to go to all the doctor appointments and then paying the big bills but at least everything went well and I’m still alive!

I’m sorry to say the book I wrote in your memory has not become the best-seller I had hoped for, but I’m still glad I wrote it. I tried not to make it too embarrassing for you, focusing on your love for us and just some of the things you did that I thought were funny. I wanted to keep it a short, easy read so people wouldn’t get bored. I can say that people who read it liked it and I didn’t get any bad reviews on Amazon for it.

I still miss your cats and feel really bad I couldn’t take them, but I have kept up with the $100 donation every month to the Caroline’s Kid’s Pet Rescue cat sanctuary in their memory.

You’d also be glad to know that I still have a considerable amount of money left in our bank account from selling your house. That really gave us a nice emergency fund so we are in good shape. Both Gerard and I still have jobs even though many people are out of work now. The economy is really bad, not like the depression that you lived through, but some people are really hurting a lot financially.

Gerard and I are still going to the Parma Heights Baptist Church and like it. I am still teaching 5th grade boys which is fun for me. We both helped in Vacation Bible School again and I helped with Sports Camp last summer too. We have the Christmas puppet presentation coming up on my birthday.

I am so glad you are not suffering any more but still miss you. I keep your picture on my desk at work still and also on my computer desk at home. I’ll always love you and mom very much and thank you for being such wonderful parents. It’s time to start working on my Christmas cards which always reminds me of our last Christmas together when you sent yours out after Christmas! That motivates me to get going on them.

Love always,
Karen

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lenore, The Love Of His Life

On this 10th anniversary of my mom's death, I thought it appropriate to write a bit about how important she was to us. Lenore and Harry met at a church function and my dad was attracted to her because she was funny and fun. They both served in the church together for many years.

They both were very loving, caring and generous. With me being an only child, they took in three foster children even though they had only intended on taking in two so the three could stay together. I was thrilled with the idea of sharing my wonderful parents with other kids who needed a good home. It was fun having two sisters and a brother all at once and we grew up together.

Although my dad was the "head of the house" and when he said something, that was it, mom really handled all matters concerning us kids. Often she would convince my dad to let us do things that he felt wasn't a good idea. They discussed all decisions and dad appreciated her input. They were married I believe for 52 years! They had a good balance between them. Dad was reserved, mom more outgoing; dad was handy around the house, mom was nurturing and intuitive.

When mom got very weak and had to go into the hospital, dad stayed with her all day. He was 80 at the time and insisted on caring for her instead of having her go to a nursing home. He had nurses come by the house and he took care of her and even built a special step that she used for therapy. The nurses were amazed that dad could take such good care of her and said she was they're best patient and doing so well with her therapy.

Her last Thanksgiving with us was very encouraging to me. She seemed normal and was enjoying the holiday. I really thought she would be okay but she died a week later. One of the last things she said to me was that dad was a good man and I should take care of him. I tried to do just that.

Poor dad seemed so alone, but not for long. He soon let in some of the stray cats that he had been feeding outside because mom did not like cats and did not want them in the house. They were good company for him. The first week or so, my dad slept upstairs with his cats instead of in his own bed. It was just too hard without her by his side. I had a closer relationship with my mom but after she died, my dad and I became much closer and our relationship improved.

He was so cute though. He shared with me that he would often dream of her so it was like she was still with him and that he had two lives now--the one during the day and the one in his dreams at night. It's hard to believe mom's been gone now ten years. I'll never forget her or my dad. I loved them very much and miss them both.

Related Posts: A Letter To Mom (insight into our relationship)
A Thanksgiving to Remember

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Visiting Dad Is Fun! (Writer's Workshop)

Visiting dad was funny because he fell asleep so easily! Sometimes when visiting, we would bring along Leo, our stuffed lion, just for fun. By this time dad usually fell asleep if he sat down for any length of time. One time he fell asleep while shaving! He did it sitting in the living room. He’d fall asleep while he ate. Sometimes he fell asleep while petting Sylvester, his cat. He always fell asleep when reading the newspaper. Sometimes he even dozed off while we were visiting him. Gerard would put Leo on his lap and he didn’t even know it!

This was a Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop prompt: Write a story using exactly 101 words.

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here. This is one of the stories I included in the book.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Our Dog’s Most Destructive Behavior (Writer’s Workshop)

My parents let me choose a puppy one day with the goal to get me over my fear of dogs. It worked. I chose a cute brown one with four white feet and a white tip on his tail and named him Brownie. I quickly bonded with Brownie and when my mom yelled at him, I’d put up my sign on my bedroom door that read “PEOPLE WHO ARE MEAN TO DOGS, STAY OUT!” My parents thought it was funny but I was VERY serious.

I did not like the fact that my parents insisted Brownie stay in the basement when we moved into our new house. He was no longer a puppy by this time and I was in the fourth grade. Harry put a baby gate at the top of the stairs so he couldn’t come up. My mom didn’t want the dog on the furniture and I don’t think she ever really liked dogs all that much anyway. Sometimes we would get to let him up though but if he barked, mom would flick water at him which he did not like!

I knew Brownie was a smart dog and since I felt sorry for him that he had to be in the basement most of the time, I decided to teach him how to open the baby gate. I showed him how to push up the pin with his snout. I never actually saw him do it, but one day when we came home I was so elated to find that Brownie actually did it! My parents were very upset because while we were gone he chewed up all four pairs of the new boots my parents just bought for us kids!

Does any kid like wearing boots? Maybe some do, but not us. We thought it was so funny and were so pleased that Brownie did this for us. However, my parents were not pleased at all and my dad couldn’t figure out how Brownie got out. I proudly told him that I taught him how to open the gate! We still got more new boots, ugh! Brownie died when I was in high school shortly after we moved.

Here are links to the other Writer's Workshop posts I did this week: A Thanksgiving To Remember and Did I Really Want To Change My Life Forever?
See more Writer’s Workshop posts or choose a prompt and participate yourself at Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

If you liked this post you would like “My Funny Dad, Harry. To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

I’m Proud I Actually Wrote A Book—(Writer’s Workshop)

I never planned to become an author, but here I am! I wrote "My Funny Dad, Harry" as a memorial to my dad after he died in February of 2007. I just had so many thoughts about him racing through my head at night that I couldn't sleep, so decided to write about him. I realized what a wonderful dad he really was and how amazing as well as funny. Growing up, I always thought my parents were funny (as do most kids, I expect), and often said they should have a TV comedy show called the "Mom and Pop" show.

By writing this book, I thought it would be a great way to share my dad with others and keep his memory alive. I also thought it could be an encouragement to others who are caring for aging parents as well as giving some tips on being a good, caring person. I enjoyed writing this book very much because it helped me work through my grief. I worked on it while clearing out his house to get it ready to sell. (Several months after the book was published, I entered the blogosphere with this blog about him which also makes me proud.)

In the end I include an epilogue that tells how God helped me through the really tough days after my dad's death when I just felt so overwhelmed with everything that needed to be taken care of. Included at the very end of the book are several appendices which list names of people mentioned, all his cats because there were a lot to keep straight, list of places mentioned and one that gives some spiritual help for those seeking a personal relationship with God. This part can be easily skipped if it is of no interest to you; however, I felt compelled to include it for those who may find it helpful.

I was thrilled to hear from one of my co-workers who purchased this book that her two girls saw it on the car seat when she picked them up from school and started looking at it. The cat pictures caught their attention because they love cats and they started reading it before mom even got the chance to read it herself. I think that's great. My dad would be pleased too! He always liked kids and enjoyed watching the neighbor children play.

In hindsight, I see where I could have done a better job with it, but it’s written from the heart and I was very eager to get it published by the end of the year. I was going for a quick read that moved along so people wouldn’t get bored. Considering I had no idea how to get a book published when I started writing, I consider this to be quite an accomplishment and am proud that I did it!

Check out my webpage at http://www.outskirtspress.com/myfunnydadharry for more about "My Funny Dad, Harry." You can listen to an audio clip from me and read an excerpt from the book.

For more posts about what people are proud of and other things or to participate yourself, go to Mama Kat's Workshop.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm Having A Pill Pity Party Here!


I never expected to have a line up of pill bottles before I even got to be a senior citizen but here I am. It makes me feel old to be taking so many pills every day and needing bifocals. If it weren't for all these pills, I would still feel like I'm only in my 20s--yes, I really feel that good. I remember when the doctor first told me about ten years ago that I needed to take a pill for my thyroid which affected my metabolism and another to keep my cholesterol level in check. I was in shock thinking this shouldn't be happening so soon! I did notice, however, that I had more energy and felt better.

When working out with a trainer several years ago, he noticed that working my shoulders caused me some discomfort and suggested I start taking Glucosamine/Condroitin for my joints. It did seem to help but this put me up to four pills a day!

About two years ago he told me and my husband to start taking Centrum (which I replaced with one especially for women over 50), a vitamin supplement, so then I was up to three a day.

Now since my bone density test results showed that my bones are slightly below normal and I'm headed for Osteoporosis in my future, I should start taking Citracal which will help my Calcium and Vitamin D deficiency and improve my bone density--oh and these I am supposed to take twice a day so that puts me up to six! The doctor told me that years ago they wouldn't have detected this so no one would have mentioned anything about it to me. I guess it's good to know so preventive measures can be taken, but I hate having to fuss with all these pills!

I always felt bad for dad that he had so many pills to take when he reached his 70s. He took Levothyroxine for his thyroid, Centrum, an iron pill, Metformin (usually morning and evening) and one at bed time plus insulin in his 80s. Wow, I'm up to as many as he was and here I'm only 55! No wonder I feel old!!

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Monday, October 26, 2009

But Dad, I Don't Want To Ruin My Doors


Recently our dog discovered the cats' litter boxes and has helped herself to the poop. Twice now she has vomited poop, once when I was home and once while I was out. It smells awful and what a mess! I heard dogs are attracted to cat poop so I was so happy that Abby wasn't . . . until recently.

I know if dad were still alive, he would have a simple solution. He would offer to just cut a small hole that our cats could go through in our two doors to our upstairs rooms that have the litter boxes our cats use most often. This would be a simple solution all right, but somehow if we ever wanted to sell the house, I doubt if people would like holes in their bedroom doors.

I know this would be a viable solution for dad because he cut out the whole bottom half of two of his doors so he could see where the cats were before he opened it. He put pieces of Plexiglas in them and when I was getting ready to sell the house, the realtor gave me a whole long list of things I should fix in order to sell it quickly and those doors were on it. Fortunately, my dad saved everything and I found the panels to the doors close by.

In my case though, I'd really rather not cut up the door. Other than creating a way of access for the cats that the dog can't get through, such as installing a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs, the second most popular suggestion is to put some Cayenne pepper on some poop for the dog to find and it will probably cure her of the habit real quick. This sounds mean to me and she'd probably vomit it up.

My idea is to just train her to leave it alone and stay downstairs, but the dog trainer said she'd be really impressed if I could pull that one off because it's instinctive behavior--it's part of being a dog. She said it would be very hard to do that and the vet agreed. Abby will stay at the bottom of the stairs if we tell her to. I can be upstairs for 30 minutes and come back down and she'll still be there. Now if I could just think of a way to teach her to stay down when we're not home, that would be great!

In case that doesn't work, I have seen automatic self-cleaning litter boxes at PetSmart for over $100 that I though we could try. Does anyone have any experience with these? On second thought, maybe I could use dad's solution on the closet door . . . hmmm. Have to give that some thought.

Anyone else have this problem? Sandee at Comedy Plus told me about an article "How to Stop Dogs from Eating Cat Poop" on in the comments on my other blog where I mentioned I just learned about this happening this week. Thanks, Sandy!

UPDATED 10/31/09: Here's how I solved the problem:
Here's the link to the cats' post about it: Litterbox Fences Solve Poop Problem

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Playing With Cats Is Great Fun!

I used to love visiting my dad and his cats. I had to be very careful though when playing with his cats because none of them were declawed. Occasionally, I would got scratched because they were so quick and sometimes their mood would change unexpectedly. I did try to be careful though. My dad's first and favorite cat, Blackie, used to like riding around on his wheelchair. I would push the chair with the cat sitting or laying on it as best I could along the path between the junk in the dining room and into the living room and kitchen.

My cat, Spunky Doodle, was a kitten born to a stray at my dad's that I took in. Spunky is not 5 years old and I am so glad I have her. She is still a lot of fun. Just last week I discovered another game she likes--spinning on our chair! She climbed up on the back of the chair and I just started spinning it around very slowly and discovered she liked it! I told Gerard, my husband, to take a video so I could post it on my blog to share. (Visit Spunky's blog here.)

Cats are so much fun and so little work. I never really liked cats until I met the cats at my dad's. He fed the stray cats of the neighborhood and so they congregated at his house. I loved petting them when i visited. A few he brought inside. What games do your cats like or how do you keep them entertained?

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Best Shirts Ever!

My dad loved flannel shirts with two front pockets and I don't think he threw any out. When I went through his closets after he died, he had three closets full of flannel shirts and some flannel lined shirts from L.L. Bean. He would wear these all yaar round, even on hot summer days! If he got paint on some, he'd still save those to wear the next time he painted.

My dad had so many shirts because he'd usually get flannel shirts for his birthday and Christmas. I found one still in the original plastic so used it to lay him out in for his funeral. He was never big on suits and I just thought he'd look more like himself in a flannel shirt. Here we found a picture of when he got that shirt which was about 20 years earlier! Who knows, maybe he meant to save that one for his funeral one day--sounds like something he'd do!

I gave most of them away but kept a few for my husband and me. It's really nice to have these because it makes me feel close to dad still when I wear one of his shirts. My husband discovered how nice they are too. He never used to wear flannel shirts but likes them a lot now, especially in the winter to wear to work. They are so comfortable!

The L.L. Bean shirts are very nice too. They are more like a light weight jacket with flannel lining. They are great for yard work or for wearing on cooler days without having a bulky jacket. I kept five of these for us and am very glad I did!

To find out more about my book and why I wrote it, read the Foreword here.
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Infarrantly Creative Would Have Been One of Harry's Favorite Blogs


When discovering Infarrantly Creatative through SITS last week, it made me think of my dad. This blogger has a lot of imagination and talent for recycling things by making them into something else more useful, just like my dad used to do.

When reading Ballard Designs: Acanthus Cut-Out Plaque it said how she looks in the catalog and then makes the item for much less. This reminded me of my dad because he used to the the same thing. One thing I remember he made was a wood stand with handles that fit around the toilet to make it easier for my mom to get on and off. She was able to push down on the handles to help herself up. He found a picture of it in a catalog and just copied it.
toilet push up

I thought it funny that Infarrantly Creative is active in "Roadkill Rescue." You say you never heard of that? It' when you go out on garbage day or to a yard sale and get a piece of junk very cheap, sometimes for free, and then fix it up to make it usable. My dad had a basement full of junk that someday he was going to fix but just never had the time to get to it all. Check out the makeover Infarrantly Creative did on Lamp Refabulous.

When I read how Infarrantly Creative turned a hutch into a puppet theater, it brought back good memories of the cardboard puppet theater we got for Christmas on year. Funny how different things will set off memories of my dad. I never know what's going to come up next, but it seems something always does.

Infarrantly Creative also gives instructions so you can do the projects too if you wish. It's a great crafty blog that you should be sure to visit if you like doing projects that save you money.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

How Do You Read The Newspaper?

One of Harry's pet peeves was the newspaper's layout and bulkiness. He didn't like how you always have to go to another page to read the rest of an article. Kind of like how I don't like clicking on "read more" to read an entire blog post. The pages are very big and it is very cumbersome to read, especially when you need to use a magnifying glass like Harry did.

His solution was to simply tear the paper apart first. This made it easier to manipulate and hold. No awkward folding was necessary then and he could easily hold the page he was reading with one hand while using the magnifying glass with the other. I always thought it funny that he tore his paper apart, but it did make sense when you think about it.

Does anyone else do this? If you need a magnifying glass to read the paper, you may want to give this a try.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Where Does The Time Go:


After my mom dad and dad was on his own, he still had his day filled with things he wanted to do. I always thought it would be nice to have the whole day to just do whatever you wanted. I envied him in that way and was always amazed when I'd go visit him the next day on my way to work when he was in his upper 80s to find out he didn't get much done the day before. He would tell me that after breakfast, he fell asleep reading the paper and woke up and it was already lunch time. He would get so frustrated with himself because he'd tell me there just isn't time to do the things he likes after he gets everything else done that as to be done like testing his blood sugar, eating, taking his pills, taking care of his cats and then it seemed that took up his whole day.

I felt sad for him when he'd tell me that and think, wow, what a life. He had several pills to take and at different times in the day which was sort of a hassle for him to keep track of. Then to make things more complicated for him yet, if his blood sugar was over a certain number, then he'd have to give himself some shot. I was impressed at how good he did this all by himself. He didn't need the shots until his last year or so. Up until then, he controlled the diabetes with just a pill.

Now that I am home, recovering from surgery, I experience a similar situation. I have all day and think how much I'm going to accomplish today: comment on blogs, walk the dog, post to my blogs, do a little reading, play with my cats, review my Sunday School lesson and read the paper, maybe even play a little on pogo.com. Then the time flies by, I get a little tired so lay down for a bit with my cats and boom--the day is gone, Gerard is home again and I maybe got half the things done that I wanted to do.

Fortunately, I will get better and become stronger again. The first day I tried going back to work two weeks after my surgery, I was dead tired by the time I got home. The only other time in my life I was that tired was the day we moved. I walked like a 90-yr.-old woman on the way home from the bus stop. I just was out of pep and my shoulders and neck were all tense. It was awful. (I wrote about this on my other blog if you want more detail: Exhausted After My First Day Back To Work. I thought I was ready but found out differently.

My dad, however, never did recover. Getting old involves a big adjustment. You just have to slow down and not expect as much from your body as you once did. This was the hardest thing for him to do because he liked puttering around the house and fixing things. Things that used to take a little time, now take longer to do and although your mind tells you, "I can do this" your body says "No, I can't."

I have decided to take the time that the doctor says I should and enjoy the extra free time God has given me to get caught up on things and schedule some posts ahead again. I hope to start posting on this blog once a week again and so the first thing I did after reading the paper this morning was t write this post. It's been way too long since I posted on here.

Do you get everything done you want to do each day? Probably not. That's why we have to prioritize and do the most important things early to make sure those at least get done. I feel good I finally got my post done for this blog today. Do you make the most of the time you have?

Tweet Me from My Funny Dad, Harry

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Here's A Chance To Help Support Our Troops


Over at Red Pine Mountain, Sara is again promoting a care package for the troops. I was honored she requested some autographed copies of my book, "My Funny Dad, Harry" to include in it. You can leave a comment to support our troops on her "It's That Time Again--Let's Support Our Troops" post. Please go and check out this post, leaving a comment encouraging our troops. For every comment received, she'll add an item to the box which will go to Jess, a blogger who is being deployed to Djibouti.

My dad didn't get accepted into the service because of flat feet and Diabetes but always put his flag up on the holidays and was proud to be an American and grateful to those who did serve.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hurry Up And Wait--Bring A Book Along!

Oh, those doctor trips! My recent trips to doctor offices have brought back memories of when I used to take my dad. He was always so nice and apologetic because I had to take off work to take him to appointments. This was frustrating on several levels. I used to make the appointment as early as possible so I could still get to work in the afternoon and not have to take the whole day. Dad knew he moved slow and didn’t want to rush so he was always good about getting up early and being ready to go when I got there. He was so thankful that I took him because at this point, he wasn’t driving anymore—doctor’s orders.

I always took a book along to read because we never were taken at our appointment time and the waiting room always seemed full. Why do they schedule appointments so close together? It seems they have no consideration for their patients’ time. We always had at least a 30-min. wait before we were even allowed into the examining room where the nurse would weigh him and take his blood pressure and test his sugar. Finally, on a good day after about another 20 min. or so we would see the doctor.

Another time, we waited and waited and waited until finally the receptionist said she got a call from the doctor and she’s on her way. I’m thinking, well, I would think so! Since then, I just took of the whole day to take him because it was just too stressful.

Another time, after we waited for 2 hours, the receptionist comes in and tells us the doctor just called and can’t make it, her car broke down.

The blood work was another mess. The lab was in the same building which was very convenient. The first time we went, it was closed. They were on vacation and no one told us. Took off work for nothing that day! We finally reschedule and they take dad’s blood. When we go back for the follow-up appointment, they tell us they didn’t get the blood test results back yet because their fax machine was acting up. Why couldn’t they walk downstairs or take the elevator to get them? This just blew me away. Obviously, we’re there for our follow-up appointment and the doctor hasn’t even looked at the results yet! I walked down to get them.

When dad died at 89, I felt some relief in knowing he no longer had to deal with doctors and pills anymore! Now, here I am having to deal with my health problems. I'm too young for this!

Recently, I have had to go often lately for my mammogram, then an ultrasound, then an aspiration, then a biopsy, then back to hear the bad results and make more appointments. What I don’t understand is why medical secretaries can’t schedule appointments so that we don’t have to wait for hours. Our primary care physician is very good about this. We always get the first time slot and only usually have to wait 5-10 minutes which is acceptable.

For my recent cancer experience, read: How A Phone Call Ruined My Day

Monday, August 10, 2009

Are You Sure You Want to Throw That Away?

UPDATED 8/18/09: To see paintings I did, check out What's Your Hobby--I used to Paint on my Karen & Gerard Zemek blog.
Harry made a really nice painting easel when my mom watched the painter on channel 25 so she could paint as a hobby. She ordered his books and bought some oil paint and enjoyed just copying the pictures from the book. Harry would set it up for her right in the living room! I too began to paint some of the pictures and found it to be fun. Harry made wood frames for many of the pictures mom and I painted and we put them around the house. Here are some of the pictures done by mom:







The books gave clear step by step instructions as to how to do it and what colors to use. Although both mom and I tried following these instructions to a tee, our paintings resembled the pictures in the book, but never exactly, which is okay. We had a lot of fun trying!

When I had to clear out everything, I found these paint books and the easel in the basement. I kept the books and the palette dad made with the thought that I could probably sell them on eBay or if not, I may want to paint again one day. The easel though was kind of big and Gerard was already worried our house would soon be crammed with junk like dad's was because every time I went over there, I'd bring things back home with me and have to find a place for them--usually the eBay room in the basement. This though, I just couldn't think of where to put it so unfortunately, it got thrown out. Watch the video I made of me using the easel and dad making an appearance at the end in his suspenders that I hated. I thought they made him look like an old man. He was always supportive of everything I did.

video


I regret now that I didn't put it in the garage at least and hang on to it. My advice to those who have the task of cleaning out a house and getting rid of things, when you get to the place where you just want it to end, take a break. That's when I made some bad decisions and ended up tossing out things that now I wish I hadn't. It's hard to know what to keep and what to let go, especially since a lot of it is just stuff that may just have sentimental value. Don't discount that. My advice based solely on my experience is that if in doubt, keep it "for now" and after the grieving process, you can decide then if you will ever use it or if you should throw it out. You can always throw away things later, but once you throw it out, you can't get it back!

(You can order My Funny Dad, Harry by clicking on the "buy book" tab at the top of this blog.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Harry Didn't Think His Life Was Boring--What About You?

According to this Blogthings quiz, my dad had a boring life; however, it wasn't boring to him. Even though every day was pretty much the same and he generally stayed home, he was very happy and content and often said he never got bored. Because he did everything slowly, he never seemed to get done everything he hoped to do in a day.

Harry always had several projects in the works such as cutting the grass, fixing something, indexing his magazines, reading the newspaper, cleaning the litter boxes, feeding his cats, reading his mail and paying his bills. On rare occasions he would even straighten up something or clean something!




You Live a Boring Life



You aren't necessarily a boring person, but you've fallen into living a pretty boring life.

Somehow you've gotten yourself stuck in a rut, and life just isn't that interesting anymore.

You need to start acting and stop thinking so much. Just go for it, and don't let yourself come up with excuses.

The only way to make life less boring is to start living it. Let go of your hang ups. Go out and have an adventure!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Comment Showcase--Top Comments For July

Thanks to all who took time to comment. These were the most interesting, funny or encouraging comments we got in July:

On Why Write A Book Review I got this wonderful comment:
Martha A Cheves said:
I loved what you wrote about book reviews. I write reviews for new authors and even have a blog site for them. Since I write cookbooks I decided to make my site different by adding the Author's favorite recipe. I've just ordered your book and hope you will allow me to post it to my site as well as the other 37 sites, Amazon and B&N as well as give me a recipe for A Book and A Dish. You can check my site at http://marthaskitchenkorner.blogspot.com
Can't wait to start reading.


On Sad Fourth of July--Striper Was So Much Fun
Mom said:
I know this feeling. My dear Gizmo had to be put down the day before Thanksgiving - 2004. It was one of the worst days of my entire life. I still cry for him at times. I loved him so very much. The night before we took him to the vet I dreamed that he crawled up on my shoulder and kissed my cheek, as if to say good-bye. (Okay - I have to go cry now...)


On How To Grow Strong Spiritually
I received many encouraging notes and prayer support. I was very encouraged by these and here is just a sample of the comments I received here:
Homestay Mama said:
I'll be praying, Karen. In the meantime I know you know that nothing happens to us without God's permission. And he will use this situation to bring glory to himself.


Karen at Karen's Opinions said:
Good luck with your biopsy. It will probably turn out to be nothing but it is good to have it checked out. Praying for you.

YeoKeeHui said:
God knows and He cares. He has been taking good care of us all these years and He will continue to do so.

Monday, July 27, 2009

How To Write A Book Review--Learn From My Mistake

When writing a book review, simply try to answer the question, "Why should someone read this book?" You should emphasize the following:

  • What you liked or thought about the book;

  • How it affected you;

  • How one may benefit from reading it;

  • Who you think would enjoy it.

According to Sell Your Book On Amazon, it should ideally be a paragraph or two. Things that would spoil the suspense such as telling how it ends should be left out.

On the other hand, if you didn't like the book, it's better not to write any review because authors have feelings too and a bad book review can go a long way in deterring people from buying it. I learned this lesson early on when I first started posting reviews on Amazon for every book I read because according to Sell Your Book On Amazon an author should seek to develop a presence by doing a lot of book reviews. I inadvertently hurt an author's feelings who I met on MySpace by posting a review of her book when I really didn't like it even though I hoped I would. Regardless of trying to be nice and still be honest, giving it 3 stars (which according to Amazon said "I like it" when in my heart I would have given it one star) she saw it and was deeply hurt anyway. I felt awful and immediately deleted the review but the damage was done. (The only exception to this is if it's a very controversial book, for example, The Shack, where people seem to either love it or hate it and which has many reviews. In this case the controversy is what makes people want to read it for themselves and is a good thing.)

Since this incident, I try to read the book before I let the author know I got it. That way if I don't like it, I haven't put myself in an awkward position and choose not to post an Amazon review. I certainly hope those who read My Funny Dad, Harry do not have this problem, but just to be safe, best not to tell me that you have it until after reading it.

"My Funny Dad, Harry" Book Giveaway

Congratulations to all the winners of the giveaway for "My Funny Dad, Harry" at Red Pine Mountain. I am so happy that four of my regular commenters won! Read what Tim thought of it at Everyday Living.