Saturday, November 5, 2011

france and italy trip...(Day 7)...

WE, Sept 7 (Corgoloin, Dijon & surroundings)

Ah ha!  Is there a method to their madness?  Was there a deeper meaning to making us sleep in their bedroom?  Why yes!  The head of the bed shares the very thin wall of the kitchen.  F&D wake up early and start banging around in the kitchen and guess what?  We can't sleep.  On our vacation, we are not allowed to sleep.  This works better for them.  They've always had a hard time with us having a fantastic sleep in the cold, dark basement because we don't wake up until nearly lunchtime.  Passive-aggressive?  I think maybe.

So, we're up for breakfast.  Brioche & chocolate milk in a bowl to dip your brioche.

On the schedule for today, visit Sabine's work: Cadeus to watch them make wine barrels.  This is a pretty awesome process.  They are made by hand.  They are different sizes.  The metal bands are different colors.  I took plenty of movies...will post.

Later we pick up our niece Emmanuelle and bring her back to F&D's house for lunch and then head to Veuve Ambel, which is a modern take on the production wine cellar.  Self guided tour.  Wine tasting afterward, even Emmanuelle (she's 14).

This evening we visit Laurent & Laurence for dinner.  On the menu, aperitifs of caviar, pate on bread, eggs with mayo and saussison.  Appetizer of seafood chowder called St. Jacques.  Dinner of ham, rolled with gravy and pasta.  Cheese to help digest and then dessert. Apple tart from Francoise and coffee.  So full...so, so full!

We put on Justin & Sam's wedding DVD and looked at one of the photo books that I made for Jerome (his first 10 years in the US).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

france and italy trip...(Day 6)...

TU, Sept 6 (Guedelon, Fulvy, Semur en Auxois & Corgoloin, France)

Wake at 7am - however I had never fallen asleep, so this was pretty easy...we had a very quick breakfast and got on the road to meet up with Jerome's parents; Francoise & Daniel at Guedelon.  

Guedelon is a construction site for a medieval castle where the builders are using the same techniques and materials used in the Middle Ages.  However, we did see a water hose hidden in the brush and also they did have electricity for a camera that was mounted on the top of the castle.  All that being said, it was a pretty cool place to visit and explore.  Almost like an actual Renaissance Festival atmosphere.  I wonder if they will have Ren Fest's here once they are done (in 2027).  We also ate lunch there which was food from the Middle Ages as well and in much need of some pizazz.

After spending a good amount of time at Guedelon, we drove to visit Jerome's grandmother Mamy in her nursing home.  It was a short visit and she seemed very happy to see Jerome - her memory doesn't last very long and she nearly doesn't recall who he is.  She's in her 90's, so what do you expect?

One cutish~sad story while we were there mingling with the old folk.  The lady in pink on the right has decided that she doesn't want to be there anymore and if we could just open the door, she will be on her way. Under her arm are some clothes. Every time they told her that they couldn't let her leave, she would say "Merde, Merde, Merde (which means $h!t, $h!t, $h!t), if I had known that, I would have never come here".

After our short trip we headed to Fulvy to visit cousins Claudette & Robert.  This is a typical stop on our way from Paris to the French countryside.  Because we had friends with us, I asked Jerome if it would be OK if we take a look at Mamy's house that is still in the family and is just down the road a piece.  We were given the keys.  As we headed there, we were about to pass by the village cemetery where some of Jerome's family is buried.  Dee had mentioned that she wanted to visit a cemetery, so this would be a perfect one to visit.  While walking around, suddenly there appeared on the hill behind the cemetery wall, a sheep - baaing.  We talked to the sheep, who seemed very interested in living people in the cemetery.  Next time we looked up, the sheep was gone.  In short order, the sheep brought another sheep over to see us and soon was accompanied by yet another sheep.  They were very curious about us.  So cute.

Onwards to Mamy's house.  It's an interesting place that hasn't been lived in for years.  Jerome says that his aunts and uncles come and stay during the summer months.  Otherwise the place is completely closed up.  Once inside, it has a very strong mildew smell, no indoor plumbing, thick stone walls, a garden area with the compost pile that Jerome and his brothers were told to pee into when they were little boys.

Needless to say, this place has potential.  I could see putting a bit of money into this place and actually (dare I say...) living there. Jerome was slightly excited about that prospect and put the bug in the ears of his parents.  "Don't sell" the place because we want to buy it.  Oh man, if they ever decide to sell and don't tell us, there will be hell to pay.

After our visit we started heading to Corgoloin, still in separate cars, our friends wanted to stop at the next interesting village that we were driving through while traveling to Jerome's parents house.  Semur en Auxois is a medieval village with turrets and towers.  We stopped for some quick pictures.  

While we were busy doing some sight-seeing, Daniel & Francoise raced back to the house to prepare dinner.  I believe what we had were elausettes son tate fries - will have to check that with Jerome...

Then it was the politics of where we were going to sleep.  Usually we are in the basement or the guest bedroom, but this time it was different.  Jerome's parents wanted us (for whatever reason) to be on the same floor as our friends, so they gave us their bedroom and our friends took the guest bedrooms. This caused quite a ruckus, all in French, but as usual we didn't win.  I had never even seen the inside of their bedroom before and now I was sleeping in their bed - weird.  At least this night I slept well.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

france and italy trip...(Day 5)...


MO, Sept 5 (Paris, France and the surroundings)

Today is the day we say good-bye to the Saint James...sad, it was really nice meeting you.

Jerome and Lou went to go pick up our rental car, which was going to be a Ford Focus, but turned out to be a Peugeot 3008 - whoa, pretty nice car (crossover/SUV).  Apparently, when they were giving the Focus a wash, they left the back window open a tad and the back seat got soaked.  So, we got an upgrade!

We drove the the St. Ouen Flea Market and walked around a bit.  It's pretty huge and somewhat expensive.  I have heard since that there are smaller flea markets around France that are not expensive...one of these days I figure this out!

We are always in search of a modern bathroom facility when we are in France.  "We" being me and whomever we are bringing along ~ Jerome could care less.  So, we are told that there is "the toilets" around the corner.  Both Lou and I have to use it.  This bathroom happens to be for men and women.  In fact, you get to walk right by the open urinals in order to get to the stalls.  Avert your eyes, ladies. Also, it seems to be where the flea market sellers do their dishes.  There were some wine glasses being washed in a very large bathroom sink.  Hopefully not the wine glasses we were about to drink from at the restaurant that is on site; Chez Linsette.  This was an extremely gaudy restaurant, filled with Christmas decor as only the French can do.  There was live music and luckily we got there just before the kitchen closed for the afternoon.  The woman singing was loud and would sell you one of her CDs for the low, low price of 20 euros!

After our flea market visit, we traveled to Versailles.  We came up what I would call the back way.  This was a way I didn't recognize.  You can nearly drive right up to the palace.  Last time I was there (15 years ago), my sister brought us a different way, through some naked statues and gardens.  Well, we found out some valuable information...Versailles is closed on Monday's.  So, again, just a photo op from outside the gates.

The village my sister lived was not too far away, so we took a drive there to see if I could recognize the place.  We found the roundabout that had the name of the village spelled out in foliage.  Took some pictures for my sister and then headed to Uncle Dudu and Aunt Janine's place.

We stopped at Carrefour to pick up some flowers and the next thing you know, we can't find Dee.  We looked for her for a good 10-15 minutes before we found her.  She took a wrong turn looking for a bathroom.

Had dinner at Dudu & Janine's.  Herve, Noemie, her brother Bastien and his girlfriend Matilde joined us.  Noemie was very happy to see me; happier than all of the other French.  I guess the three weeks she spent with us helped with my credibility...depending on if they find Noemie credible. ;)

Let me tell ya, a Murphy bed is very neat that it tucks away and everything, but man, their Murphy bed is so uncomfortable.  Couldn't sleep AT.ALL.

france & italy trip...(Day 4)...

SU, Sept 4 (Paris, France)

After enjoying an excellent breakfast at the Saint James of croissants, scrambled eggs and sausage, we found ourselves back on the streets walking to the Metro.  Today we visited Le Louvre.  Well, visiting means to go on the grounds and take some pictures but not wait in line to go inside.  There is a little above ground tunnel that we walked through in order to get to the grounds and when we returned the same way and had to cross the busy Paris street, I was caught in the middle of the street with cars quickly coming at me and I acted as though I were a squirrel caught in the middle of the road.  Those cars were not going to stop...or slow down.  Luckily I am alive to tell the story.

We continued with our quick tour of Paris by heading over to Notre Dame.  Again this was a photo op mostly, just to say we were there.  Our friends were not interested in waiting in any sort of line in order to see the inside.  Dee decided to bring out what we fondly refer to as "Palmy"...a blow up palm tree that their son gave them.  He would be our constant companion on this trip and featured in many pictures.

Next stop was a place that Dee was interested in...The Bastille.  She was born on Bastille Day and would like to take a look.  We took a lot of subways in order to get to where you exit for the Bastille.  It was rainy that day and we went over to the "you are here" map and tried to find the easiest way to get to the Bastille.  A nice Parisian, YES, I said it...some are actually nice, asked us if we needed any help with directions.  Jerome asked him in French where we could find the Bastille.  The man showed us by pointing up to a statue that you could see from the subway station and answered in English "that was where the Bastille was".  Jerome said he wanted to see the prison.  The guy looked at him and said that the prison has been gone for 222 years!  That is why the French celebrate Bastille Day - it was when the prison was destroyed!  Oh boy!  How embarrassing!  Jerome not only is not recognized in France that he is French (and a French speaker), but he totally doesn't know the history.

Next stop was the Moulin Rouge and Pigalle.  This is the red light district of Paris...at least a lot of sex shops and movie theaters.  You can see a burlesque show, also known as the follies.  We noticed a little train that would take us all the way up the inclined hill to Montmarte and the Sacre Coeur.  It was pretty inexpensive and so much easier than walking.  The train had a little recording continually running to let you know of the sites you were passing...it was not always telling us at the most appropriate times but you could figure it out...the voice of the English speaker sounded just like a guy I worked with at Chrysler; Cristian.  This guy seemed to have an almost Australian accent.

We walked around Montmarte, taking in all the art that is jammed in that little square.  As we were having lunch, Dee told us a story about fake artists and that she didn't believe that the artists that we see here, standing with the art are the same people who did the painting.  She said she saw a courier going from one artist to the next dropping off pieces...interesting.  I wonder if it's true?  They don't seem to have the same pushy caricature artists any longer...at least with them, you see that they are the ones doing the work.

Over by the Sacre Coeur, there were some street performers.  One guy I'll call "monkey man".  He was climbing one of those famous Paris street lamps and using his upper body streangth to hold his lower body upright, horizonally, like a flag - plus so many other amazing moves.  It was neat to watch.

Final stop on the tour for the day was the Arche Defense.  This is an interesting modern "cube" with a hole in the middle that is in the financial district of Paris.  It's an office building, but I don't know how it works...there doesn't seem to be any windows or anything. 

Headed back to the Saint James and had some Kir in the lounge and then outside under the hot air balloons.  Then off to bed for our next adventure in Paris.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

france and italy trip...the beginning (Days 1-3)...

TH, Sept 1 (Michigan to NYC)
Left early from work (3pm) to get on the road to NYC and my sister D's house.  We arrived around 1am after getting a little lost in NJ.  Only one bad traffic jam on our side of the highway and that was as we were heading into Toledo.  A truck carrying a large spool of steel lost said steel and there it lie, in the middle of the highway.  It made a huge gouge from the impact and I'm glad to say that it seems that the pot hole was the only casualty.

FR, Sept 2 (NYC)
D only had one job on Friday, so she was home pretty early since the job was just down the street from where she lives.  She took us around her neighborhood and showed us all the changes; her neighborhood is revitalizing and there are a lot of new businesses opening up.  She also took us to Ground Zero, but we were a week too early for the unveiling of the 9/11 Memorial.  Still we were able to get a pretty good view from above, in the World Financial Building.

Later, she used our car to drop us off at JFK where we were heading for our great adventure...but first we needed to wait in a huge line.  Our airline is an unknown airline called XL Airways France.  We got the tickets from CheapOAir and Jerome informed me that the seating was going to be pretty tight...this didn't bother me one bit (ha!).  We stood in line for nearly an hour and during that entire time, we didn't see our friends; Lou & Dee.  We figured they would be waiting for us at the gate.  And they were.  They upgraded to First Class, which had more room in general and no line at check-in; lucky dogs.

Flight was on-time, but I would give the Captain and the flight in general a C- overall.  The take-off was loud, there was constant turbulence, when the Captain spoke to us he was hard to understand and the landing was sort of rough.  I was OK with the seating, we were one seat in front of the wing (one of my favorite places ~ hate the tail), it was tight, but not unmanageable.  We saved around $500 a ticket by booking this airline, so, I suppose any discomfort was worth it.  It was a 7 hour flight.

SA, Sept 3 (Paris, France)
After we landed, we met our friends on the jet bridge.  They were standing there with a well dressed young man.  They seemed relieved when they saw us and a little surprised it took us so long to get off the airplane...not everyone gets to fly first class ya know.

So this guy that is with them is dressed up nicely and seems to know who we are.  He takes the carry-on luggage and walks us all the way to customs, cuts in front of everyone, asks us for our passports and hands them to the agent.  The agent stamps our passports and we are on our way to the luggage area.  He waits with us and grabs our luggage and escorts us all to our waiting van.  Now that's service!  Even Jerome's brother who works for AirFrance at CDG isn't able to get us that kind of service.  I guess our friends set this up through our hotel and this is the job that this young man has.  Pretty cool.

Our van driver spoke English and took us directly to our hotel; Saint James ~ Paris.  And yep, it was everything the website said.  It was a stand-alone building in the middle of Paris, which is rare.  It was gorgeous!!!  Way out of my league.

We took a couple of hours there to rest and recuperate before we headed out to see Paris.

Jerome had the thankless task of being our tour guide...even though I think I've been to Paris more often than he has.  We walked a couple of blocks to our first Metro Station.  Jerome had downloaded a free ap of the Metro Subway System so that he could easily figure out which trains to take to get to the Arc de Triomphe.  However, at one point in the middle of transferring trains, we all tried to get into the #2, but only Jerome was able to before the automatic doors closed and the majority of our group were stuck on the platform.  He waved bye-bye and motioned that he would meet us at the next station as the train sped off.  Only one casualty of that debacle; Lou tried to use his foot to stop the subway doors from closing.  Just so you know, the doors don't stop closing, even if you have a hand or a foot in the door.  It's a subway door, not an elevator door.  Lou moaned a little about his painful injury as we sort of looked at each other with only a small amount of panic in our eyes.  Don't worry, we met up with Jerome at the next subway stop and then, reunited we went on to see the Arc.

We walked up the steps into a gloriously hot, sunny day.  The heat was stifling but the view of the Arc was just distracting enough that we quickly forgot about the heat.  We stood around taking pictures for quite some time and realized they were setting up for some sort of presentation.  Apparently there was a kind of National Celebration at the tomb of the unknown soldier.  We were shooed away so that a huge parade of soldiers could march into the space we were currently occupying.  Once that happened, we were unable to get a good view again and decided to start walking down the Champs Elysee.

We took a look into some of the Automobile Galleria's, some shops (which we were informed we were not allowed to take pictures), we had a little snack at the Brioche Doree.  All the while, some dark clouds were forming and seemed to be following us.  It was getting windy.

We walked a little more, to the Avenue FDR when all of a sudden the clouds burst open and we were in a torrential rain storm!  We were stuck under a line of trees and getting wetter and wetter.  Jerome made a break for it and ran to the nearest phone booth (yes, they still have phone booths there!).  I waited a while but soon followed him.  Our booth door wouldn't close completely and it was pretty tight in there.  We were still getting a bit wet,...but not as wet as our friends who DIDN'T run!  They stood there like a couple of horseys left out in the rain - just standing there taking their medicine.

Eventually we got back onto the Metro, soaking to the bone and headed to the Eiffel Tower. When you leave the Metro at the Eiffel Tower exit, you head down the Ave. de Suffren and make a quick left when you get to the Cafe Castel and VOILA!  There she is, seemingly hiding just around the corner!  We got there as night fell and so all the lights were turned on.  It was beautiful.  We walked around and my eyes were drawn to the colorful objects flying around in the air around the Eiffel Tower.  It's the Nigerians selling their wares.  The first time I came to Paris, they were selling wind up birds that would fly around ~ I, of course bought one.  This time they were selling little LED lighted helicopters that operated by a rubber band and flew way high up in the air. ~ I, of course bought one...for my granddaughter!  Of course I paid WAY too much for it and as you continue walking, more and more salesmen come up to you trying to sell you more for a better price.  But once you go past a certain spot, they all RUN the other way.  It was weird; they were there and then they were high-tailing it out of there!

Walking back to the subway, we stopped at the Cafe Castel for some well deserved dinner.  Kind of interesting, at one point our very nice waiter went running off after someone who didn't pay their bill.  I believe he caught him.  Excitement on the streets of Paris.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

what do you think?...

As some of you know, a couple of years ago we had our garage rebuilt.  With that garage we added a deck on the top.

This year one of us made the suggestion that we should install a TV in that area.

I will not tell you which of us made the suggestion and which of us disagreed with this suggestion; all I want to know is what do you think?  Is this something that you would consider?

The more opinions the better!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

wedding + peyton's 1st birthday party...

Well, it's done and it turned out really nice.

Over the weekend we had the double party for Sam & Justin's wedding celebration and Peyton's 1st birthday.  It was a nice turn out; counting my family and Justin's dad's family, we accounted for just over 50 people.  I'm not sure about Sam's side.


I was very happy because ALL of my brothers and sisters were able to make it.  That was a little more on the last minute side, but I was relieved that the DeYonker's were totally represented at this function!

Peyton had her moment too. Everyone came to the basement where her cake and "smash" cake were located.  They sang Happy Birthday and then Justin took her hands and actually smashed them into the cake.  In my memory, this was my first time witnessing something like this ~ it's cute and gross at the same time.  I'm not a huge fan of food on children's faces, but hey, I'm biased and it was fine for my granddaughter!  She seemed to enjoy it. A new tradition for Justin I suppose.

Sam & Justin had their own little "smash" cake as well...only not so much smashing.  This was nearly identical to the cake they had for their wedding.

Some guests enjoyed swimming in the pool, oh and the Selfridge Air Show was scheduled for that day - some planes flew right over the house, but this did not disturb anything.

As with any event, you can count on some glitches.  Here are some talking points:

Glitch1: Hadn't had enough time to get a proper wedding card so I put Justin & Sam's gift in a blank greeting card that I had at home, didn't sign it, put a post-it with their names on the envelope and kept it open.  I called Jerome to stop on his way and pick up a wedding card (2; one for us and one for my sister).  Before Jerome arrived with our official wedding card, Justin was looking for something to do and I asked him to get the cards (Peyton's bday card and the unsealed greeting card) out of the car and bring them to me.  A few minutes had passed and I saw Justin and asked him if he got the cards.  He said he had and he put them in the card boxes.  UGH!  An unsealed, unsigned card with a post-it note is what they would have from me and Jerome to open since there was no way to retrieve it from the box once it passed though the slit at the top!
Solution: Well, really no great solution.  I told them to wait to open our card so that when I showed up at the house the next day, I could take the greeting card and swap it with a signed wedding card.

Glitch2: The weather.  It had been threatening rain the entire day.  When we were putting the runners on the tables, they just kept blowing around and the candles kept blowing out.  Around 4:30pm, it let loose!  A downpour!  Not the best for an outdoor party.  Lucky for us it only lasted for around 30 minutes.  And under the tent everything was dry!
Solution: We had Justin go out and buy some flat headed thumb tacks so that we could secure the runners to the tables.
In the future, we will buy those battery operated tea lights...they never blow out and you can use them over and over again.

Glitch3: We had two projectors going with the wedding DVD; one in the house and one in the tent.  We used white sheets as the movie screens...this seemed like a good idea at first...after the party you can give the couple some new sheets, but they didn't lay right, they were a little ruffly.
Solution: No solution for this party, but next time we do something like this, we will borrow the big outdoor screen from my friend and/or use my parents old movie screen...



Glitch4a: I have to say it...the Karaoke guy.  At first we were going to get a friend of Sam's parents who does karaoke, but that fell through and so we got someone different...who was filling in for the regular guy.  At first he started setting up outside and was visibly annoyed by guests sitting at the nearby tables.  We had to move everything because he was going to set up his speakers right where guests were sitting.  Eventually they decided to move it indoors.  He was supposed to start at 7pm, but by nearly 8pm, I still hadn't heard any music or singing.  He was not trying to attract people to him so I went to investigate.  I asked when he was supposed to start and was told that he had started.  
Solution: I went to where my family was sitting and I told them that it was time for karaoke.  Luckily they all came when I asked and we spent the next couple of hours in the basement karaoking!
Glitch4b: He had tons of CDs, but every time we asked for a specific song, he didn't have it, even if the song was on the list of songs you choose from the booklet he handed out.  Or he had the CD (the original one with the artist singing) and no lyrics to put on the teleprompter.  He shared with us plenty of excuses and was a bit grumpy at first.
Solution: Make lemonade :)  I would say that karaoke was 97% The DeYonker's thing!  We ruled the mic and dance floor all night.  Tons 'O Fun!

The DeYonker portion of the karaoke party started breaking up around 11pm-ish...when some of my family had to go home since they had a long drive in the morning (back to Boston).  The rest dispersed to mingle with the rest of the party and I think we got home around 2am.

Not sure how much longer the party went on, but there were still plenty of people milling around when we left.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

decoration duty...

My son and DIL got married in January, but they've waited until August to have the "reception".  It's almost here!  They are having the wedding party and also Peyton's 1st birthday party on the same day.  The parties are being held at my DIL's parents house in Harrison Township.  It will be an outdoor party, like Jerome and I had for our wedding reception.  The big difference is that they have a pool!...but not much room for anything else in their backyard, so the neighbor is allowing them to set up a tent in their yard ~ I guess the neighbor has done this for past events as well (nice neighbor!).

I was lucky enough to score decoration duty.  I was given the colors; white and lavender and with that information I was able to do some quick internet searches to find a theme.  I sent .jpgs of the ideas to my DIL's mother (Kathy) and was given the thumbs up.  Here are some of the ideas:
Table runner in light purple...
Another way to use the mason jar idea; with photos
Some paper hearts on sticks...
These are the handles for the mason jars...

Hanging mason jars with candles...
Mason jar with daisies...
One of the ideas is using mason jars (newer, clear ones) in a combination for a centerpiece; a tall jar with flowers; daisies in white and light purple, a medium jar with the kids photos from their wedding day (with a candle in the jar as well to illuminate the photos) and a small jar with some coarse beach sand (white) and a lavender tealight candle.  To round off the centerpiece, I am spray painting some pine cones in shades of purple and white and I have made some colorful paper hearts using scrap booking paper and a heart paper punch, some floral wire and some jewel stickers.  I may also have Jerome cut a log into thin slices to use as a stand for the mason jars...I haven't passed that one by him yet - I wonder what he'll say.

Note the nicely cut runner!

I purchased several yards of this nice airy fabric in a light purple.  It has some beads and glitter attached to the fabric for some added interest and sparkle.  This will be used for table runners.  I was going to cut the runners myself and then hem them, but after the first attempt at trying to cut a straight-ish edge, Jerome told me that it looked like a "beaver creek special" and offered to take them to work and put the fabric in the machine that cuts the fabric for the airbags.  I was concerned only because the fabric is very thin and fragile, but he returned home with pieces that looked fantastic!  I won't even have to hem them, they turned out that well!  We will put a pointy end on them so that they look more finished and make a little sewn tuck, but that's about it.

I've also made some handles for a few more mason jars.  These will be used as nicely lighted, hanging decorations around the yard.
I have them hanging from yard art...
Kathy and I were talking about also incorporating some plain white Christmas lights inside the tent and other places in the yard and I've also thought of using white and purple balloons in a pearlized finish.

I've ordered some M&Ms in purple, light purple and white ~ personalized with their first names.  I think that is going to be all we need for decorations.  I've got a lot of extra scrap booking paper and may consider punching out a bunch more small hearts to use as confetti on the cake table or somewhere...I'll see what  Kathy thinks.

Finally, Jerome just finished the wedding DVD and slideshow that will be playing in the house and projected somewhere outside as well.  He's edited down the wedding to three important snippets with some nice music and effects; short and sweet and will keep everyone's interest.  At the end he made a slideshow using both the professional photos and also some good ones that were taken by the guests ~ this also has music, one of my recent favorite songs; Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

tempur-pedic...

I think the last time I purchased a brand new mattress was when I was 14 years old ~ and it wasn't me that purchased it, it was my parents.  I didn't have a choice and I wasn't all that discerning at that tender age, so it was a fine enough mattress.  My first Queen size.

Now I'm 45 and Jerome and I have been talking about getting a Tempur-Pedic for what seems to be ages now.  We've been sleeping on an extra hard mattress for several years (it was a hand-me-down from my mother) and it was fine at first; nice and firm, but over the years my back, neck and hips have been starting to hurt quite a bit.  I've been having trouble sleeping and haven't really looked forward to laying in bed for quite some time.  Jerome was sick.of.it.

Buying a mattress is a very difficult process and quite personal.  It doesn't seem personal when you are rolling around all these different mattresses on display at Art Van while shoppers are walking by, but you really need to get over the fact that you are also on display and you need to FOCUS.

Tempur-Pedic was having a special for the first time ever (according to the salesman).  Something like $200 off the Deluxe, which is the exact mattress that we chose when we did the hour or so mattress test a couple of months ago.  Plus a $125 gift card to Best Buy.  And Gardner-White was also offering 0% financing for up to 6 years!  My financial wisdom says to always go for the 0%.

Forward to last week Friday.  The mattress was delivered and set up.  I put the mattress protector on that not only protects the mattress, but protects the mattress warranty.  Then I laid on it. Ummmm, comfy...

When Jerome came home, the bed was all made with freshly washed sheets and duvet covers.  Later he told me that it has a smell.  A polyurethane smell.  I had been trying to ignore that aspect until he mentioned it, but then it all came flooding in.  I googled it and it's a known issue!  UGH!  You may remember from an earlier post about a smelly Pottery Barn rug that we had in our room.  My olfactory senses are so sensitive to smells and I get headaches and sometimes if the smell is really bad, I'll get dizzy.

I Facebooked my friends that had said that they purchased a Tempur-Pedic and asked them if they've experienced this issue ~ and they have, but they've said that you either get used to the smell or it does go away somewhat.

Tempur-Pedic doesn't really have a return policy per se, you can return your mattress for a harder or softer one (you will incur a re-stocking fee), but not a complete return and refund.  My head was spinning.  OMG!  I've been HAD!  This is a $2400 mistake!

What the Tempur-Pedic FAQ said was to remove the cover and let it air out.    This is also what my FB friends were told by their salesman.  Our salesman suggested no such thing. So, since last weekend, we've had the cover off, the windows open, the doors closed, a high speed fan in the window and the ceiling fan going.  It has been in the high 90's this whole week and so the room is extremely hot and the air is humid...and it still smells.  I had to re-wash all the sheets and duvet covers because the smell soaked into them as well.

We've been sleeping on our old mattress this whole week in a different room.

I really hope that the smell dissipates soon...we'd like to stay in our own room and really try out this mattress and see if it is at least what they all claim it to be.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

it's that time again...

Starting to gear-up for our upcoming trip to France.  That's TEN times, if you were counting.  This time we are including a side trip to Italy.  I'm pretty excited about that trip because it will be my first time to Italy.  What's better is that we have friends that live in Bologna whom we will be able to see for the first time in over a year.

Our plans have evolved from a trip to France and Italy, on our own, visiting the family and our friends TO a trip to France and Italy, with another couple ~ friends of ours from our MINI club ~ visiting the sites around Paris, visiting the family, visiting our friends in Italy and visiting Venice and all of this includes a massive Road Trip!  I think we like road trips and it should be interesting doing one from France to Italy.

Keeping in mind that we are now traveling with friends, and our way of traveling may indeed be different.  Jerome and I do a lot of things on the cheap, and traveling usually never keeps us in one specific spot for longer than a day.  This will be our friend's first visit to Europe and they'd like to do some of it in a more special way.  For instance, typically when we have to stay in a hotel in the Paris area, this is the style that is chosen:
Formule-1 (Hotel F1)
...isn't it glamorous?  Aren't you now soooo jealous of me and my many trips to Paris?


In some cute email exchanges we were asked by our friends if we "wanna play lets make a deal???"

Behind door number one.....we each pay for our own nights in Paris and Venice. Behind door number two....you guys cover Venice and we cover Paris.
If you make the wise choice...not number one.... I will send the link to Mr. Crasher's choice of hotel in Paris which I just booked 2 rooms at.
With a choice given to you in such a way, how could you not choose door number two?  To which we received the hotel link (click on the link).

And to that, Jerome responded "with this hotel link, this is the best I could do for car rental... Who's driving?"


So, all joking aside, they've graciously offered to pay for the hotel in Paris...and then they sent us the real link...and now, for your viewing pleasure,...

Hotel Saint-James, Paris
I guess I'm going to have to buy me some new britches!  Actually, I'm still not completely sure they are serious and as soon as I am able to pick my jaw up off the floor, I will have to ask them.  I'm sure the rooms look just like the Formule-1.

So, beyond this frighteningly delightful surprise, this is our current itinerary.  Jerome and I leave after work on a Thursday, driving to NYC.  Drive to my sister D's house in Brooklyn to visit and drop off the car.  She takes us to the airport that Friday evening where we meet up with "The Crashers" (that's what they like to call themselves, and it's fitting since they "crashed" our trip to France with an email reminding us that they are The Crashers and they'd like us to consider the idea of them coming along with us).  Take off to CDG that night at nearly midnight and arrive in Paris on Saturday afternoon.  Spend Saturday and Sunday in Paris or the surroundings either going to the Palace at Versailles or perhaps visit the Monet gardens at Giverny.  Do other Paris-y things; the Metro, the Eiffel Tower, maybe catch a show.

While in the area, I believe we will visit Jerome's Aunt & Uncle, possibly his brother and maybe even his brothers ex-girlfriend.

Once done with our little Paris trip we head to the country to visit with the rest of the family; mom & dad, big sis and other brother.  Leaving the following Friday morning for our massive road trip to Italy.  We think we will be in Bologna sometime on Saturday.  We will stay with our friends while The Crashers will stay at a local Agriturismo.  We will visit the Bologna area (maybe even visiting the HQ of VM to see the people I work with and only know by email address) and then Monday head to Venice.

Our first indication that we were not in Kansas anymore was a month or so ago when our friends let us know that they had a reservation held at the Hotel Cipriani.  We took a look at the hotel and nearly fell out of our chairs.  It is the most expensive and exclusive hotel in Venice.  We quickly drafted an email to them to let them know that we have found a hotel down the street from there...that would be more in our price range and that we can't wait to meet up with them to check out the Cipriani!  We know rich people!  It was then explained to us that the reservations were for dinner, not the room and that they were quite happy with the hotel that we had chosen.
Domina Home Giudecca, Venice
Which, BTW, Jerome has informed me, this is not our typical cheap hotel either ~ so he's steppin' it up a bit himself.

When asked if they are keeping something from us, like one of their parents is a millionaire, they joked back "we might sleep in the car some other nights but not in Paris or Venice!!"

This is going to be quite a different trip than what I'm used to taking with Jerome.  Other than the scary thoughts that I'm already experiencing at night about the flight, I'm really looking forward to this trip.  I think it will be a bit of an adventure.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

a short visit to sanford...

Jerome and I went on a little road trip to Sanford, NC to visit Justin, Sam and Peyton.

How things have changed from 3 short years ago.  It's mind boggling.  Justin is the best advertisement for parents that want to have their kids join the Army.  He has done a 180!  He was always a nice and charming kid, just misguided...now he is an upstanding citizen, just what every parent wants for their kid.

He's got a good paying, good benefits job (with opportunities for advancement), a car, an apartment, "stuff" (like a nice flat/big screen TV that his dad bought them), a wife and a baby!  Oh, and bills :)  He was telling his wife to turn off the lights in the bedroom the first day we visited!  That is hilarious to me.  Then he mumbled something about bills.  LOL!

I guess they all grow up at some point.  It's really cute.

So, we stayed for the weekend; Friday evening to Monday morning.
Friday evening we took them out to a restaurant in the downtown of Sanford.  It's not a huge town, but southern quaint.  The restaurant we tried, The Steele Pig, was really good - they specialize in BBQ and "slow" cooking.  I had the Slow Cooked Chicken with the Herb & Garlic Fries and the Sweet Corn Succotash.  The chicken, I guess because it was slow cooked, was the kind that just fell off the bone.  So good.   The fries were a different spin on the mundane, also very good; highly recommended (along with their dipping sauce which is a type of house BBQ sauce).  And I had to try something southern, so the succotash was a good choice, but probably not something I'd later crave.
Justin had wanted a burger, but this was not the place for that...so he had the Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork and I think he was fine with that.  Jerome had the Pulled Pork Sandwich and Sam had the Caesar Salad.  Peyton had some banana puffs and anything else that would keep her attention...at one point it was a (clean) diaper since we forgot to bring any type of toy.  Oops!

Saturday morning we needed to be at the Open Eye Cafe by 10:45am to meet for the Chapel Hill / Carrboro Walking Tour.  This was a really nice tour of the small towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.  It was a food tour where you walk with a guide to the different restaurants, store fronts and farmers markets and sample some of the food and drinks that they offer.  (taken from the website, but so true) We sampled innovative and upscale southern dishes, house-made chocolates, local cheese, made from scratch pie, organic wine, local beer, and more.  Jerome and I had done this type of tour once before in Seattle with our niece Sam and her hubby Mike and thought it was pretty cool.  This tour was even better, I think, however they both have different things to offer.  Anyway, I would highly suggest doing a walking food tour on your next trip to "Wherever USA"...because I'm sure there will be one in close proximity to where you are staying.
Neal's Famous Pastrami Biscuit - sooo good!
So, the tour consisted of visiting the following: Neal's Deli, Carrboro Farmer's Market, Carrboro Beverage Company, Acme, The Chocolate Door, Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe & the Open Eye Cafe.

The tour itself lasted for just over 3 hours, but we were there either waiting at the beginning or at the end for an additional hour.  Surprisingly, Peyton did fantastic during the whole tour.  No crabby baby here!

Afterward we went back to the apartment and took a swim.
We bought tickets for Sam and Justin to go see a comedy show in Raleigh that evening and Jerome and I got to watch Missy Peyton!  She was very good, but I got the steps wrong...I fed her a bottle, which put her to sleep...but then wanted to put her to bed, but needed to change her diaper, which woke her up and then she didn't want to go to sleep any longer.  What we forget after 24 years!  Eventually, everything worked out - but I think I still didn't do it right because she woke up crying a couple of times before Sam and Justin got home...and then again during the night.  Not used to me, I guess.

Sunday was a lazy day...well, lazy for us.  Sam and Justin worked to prepare our breakfast; pancakes, bacon and hash-browns and later that evening they prepared our dinner; brats, kielbasa with peppers and onions, chili and pork 'n beans.  In between we swam, Jerome took a walk around the area (in the 100 degree heat - no thanks!) and we were all mesmerized by our iPhones and iPods.  Someone should have taken a picture of all of us playing 7 Little Words.  Justin needed to go to bed early so playtime was over around 10pm.  Gave him a nice hug and watched a Netflix video in the bedroom, which Sam & Justin so graciously gave us use of during the weekend.
 
We left Monday around 10am heading to Burnsville, NC.  This was my sister D's old stomping grounds when she was in college.  She worked during the summers at the Parkway Playhouse and I enjoyed visiting her there when I was a kid.  So, I dragged Jerome all the way there to see if it was still there.  It was!  Even the B&B that my mom, sister Terry and I stayed one summer.  The only thing that was no longer there was the Yancey County Country Store.  We stopped in at the Chamber of Commerce to see if I really remembered it correctly...if it had been there in the past.  And it had been...but burned to the ground in the 80's.

Then we headed toward The Stairway to Heaven, which is a portion of road from Abingdon, VA to Elkhorn City, KY.  It takes about an hour and a half to drive through this windy-curvy road.  Someone from our MINI Club had mentioned it on the forum and so Jerome thought we'd try it.  It was a really nice drive but I had to make Jerome slow down one time because I was getting a little scared.  We were done driving around 9pm and then needed to get a hotel room.

Jerome had this great idea to go to a McDonald's and book a nearby hotel using Hotels.com at hopefully a lower rate.  While in the McD's parking lot, Jerome started booking it and decided that before he hit the button to purchase the room, he would call the hotel and make sure we were getting the best deal.  He called the number on the website and as it turned out, it was the number to Hotels.com.  The guy on the other line told Jerome that there were no rooms at the Holiday Inn in Pikeville for that evening.  Jerome told him that the website says that there are rooms.  So he went though the whole process of buying the ticket over the phone with the guy on the other end of the line.  At the end, Jerome said, well, I was able to book a room and the guy was dumbfounded, but said that there may have been issues with his computer and they hung up with each other.  I looked over and said "well, it didn't work out the way you had planned, did it?  You wanted to call the hotel and see if the rates were any better and now you've purchased the room anyway without finding that out."  He agreed and then a thought crossed his mind about the date he put into the computer.  He rechecked and it seemed to him that he had typed in the 5th rather than the 6th, but how could Hotels.com allow him to book a room for the night before...?  We drive to the Holiday Inn and start explaining the whole thing to the clerk.  As it turns out, Jerome not only had the day wrong, but he had the month wrong too.  He had booked this hotel for September 5th.  He hadn't changed the date from a previous search he had done on that website for a different vacation.  Luckily, they still had one room available and they ended up charging us the same amount that we would have paid on Hotels.com.  Jerome had to then log on to Hotels.com and cancel his September reservation, at no charge.

We go up to the room and the whole floor is a smoking floor and the room is a smoking room!  I think we must have smoked 10 packs of cigarettes that night between us.  It was really awful, but that was the last room they had.

The next day, we still had 9 hours of driving to complete before we were home.  Since Jerome had driven the entire time yesterday, this was my day to drive the whole way.  A long boring drive.  We got all the way home on one tank of gas that we had filled up in Pikesville, KY.  We had 15 miles to empty when we drove up our driveway.

Got into the house, which was HOT and turned on the TV so we could watch The Voice when Jerome heard the TV squeal and pop.  There was a black bar on the screen that went from left to right and then he saw and smelled smoke coming from the TV.  It died right there and the smell of burning electronics filled the air.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

monthly post; springtime...

Didn't really want to just stop posting, but work has been busy and didn't leave me much time to ponder my thoughts and write them down.  I seem to have replaced Blogger with Facebook lately.  If you wanted to find out what's been going on with my life,...it seems to be there.

So, here we go...
Last month, when my dad was in the hospital and my #2 sister (Terry) was holding vigil at his bedside, I was just leaving a doctor appointment*...
*(quick side note: I was referred by a friend to see her thyroid doctor to discuss some issues I've been having and when I met her doctor for the first time, he was irate that I would not have taken my current doctor's word, since, as he put it "this is her bread and butter"...as if she could not be wrong and that I should not even look for a second opinion.  I was beyond frustrated because his belittling continued for the rest of the appointment without regard to what I had experienced or had to say.  Have we not been told to seek a second opinion?  Have we not been told that our health is solely up to us?).
...and started heading over to Henry Ford Hospital (formerly St. Joseph's).  While driving, my clutch gave out.  I made it to the hospital but didn't want to drive the MINI any further unless it was to the MINI doctor. 

Chad (the MINI doctor) had Miss MINI for quite some time because she had the bad timing to decide to have issues the week before the Dragon and he wasn't going to be able to even really look at her until the beginning of May.  

There were several things wrong with her other than the clutch and the bill came to well over $1700.  

We've put a lot of money into our cars...way more than what I had ever put into my Neon when I had her.  I may need to reconsider my mode of transportation...even though MINIs are so much fun and oh so cute.  

A week passed and the "Check Engine" light came on!  Yesterday while we were doing yard work and we had our cars out of the garage, Jerome noticed that I've got a crack in my windshield!  Plus his car probably needs a new head gasket because it's leaking a bit...no A/C, just fixed his windshield and Henderson Glass forgot to put a little plastic piece back onto the car, so we'll have to go back and see what they can do about that, his brakes are squealing and on his way home from work on Friday, with 10 bags of mulch & topsoil, he gets a flat!  CARS!  We'll be paying Chad a visit today after work and Munk's tomorrow..

I've been wanting to post about the Rental house, which we refer to as 251.  We drove by at the beginning of May to see how it was looking...we knew we had our work cut out for us because of the sewer issue we had last fall and we had been wanting to stain the deck since last summer.  

The weather was not very cooperative this spring and we really needed to get the staining done before the cottonwoods started shedding.  So, we drove by and it was sort of shocking how badly the place (imo) looked...we had been commenting on the drive over about how many dandelions were along the side of the road and talking about how they really are a pretty color and the negative connotation to them because they are weeds; broad leaf at that.  And why things are considered weeds until someone calls them a plant, etc., etc...and then we drove up to 251 and Jerome looked at me and said "you must LOVE dandelions" because they were EVERYWHERE in the front yard.  251 was looking like the worst house on the block which was disconcerting because when I bought it in 1996, it was the worst looking house on the block...and over the years that I lived there - I got rave reviews from the neighbors as to how I was improving it.  Back to square one... 

It wasn't just the yellow flowers that were taking over the front lawn, it was the ground cover (ground elder) that was taking over the side yard and as I came to find out killed the ground phlox and was in the process of killing my rhododendron.  Plus, of course the ground was uneven since fall because of the sewer tap-in.  The next door neighbor was already working on his property because this spring, they tapped in to the sewer as well and things had been pretty much torn up on their side too.  We needed to get to work.  
We spent several days hauling topsoil and seeding.  We power washed and stained the deck just in time - really, the leaf casings from the cottonwood were just starting to fall.  If we had waited one more day, we would have had to wait until the summer to stain.  We applied Turf Builder with dandelion killer.  We sprayed Roundup on all the weeds we found in the driveway and sidewalks.  The most time consuming thing we did was to pull up all the ground cover from the side yard ~ saving the rhodie and we planted a tree that I've been growing at our house for the last few years.  The whole time thinking that we could be doing this at our house.

Since we'll be on that side of town this evening, we need to go and check things out.  Some tiles on the front patio had popped off, so Jerome fixed them and we'll have to pick up the tools we left behind.

We did the MS Walk this year again.  This time my mother's cousin and her daughter joined us.  The weather was not the most ideal, but the rain held off for the entire walk and it went by quickly.  We have so far this year collected $749.66, which is the smallest amount we've collected in our 9 years of doing the walk.  I have a theory about this ~ I work in a considerably smaller place than I've worked in the past and my ability to network is stifled, but then again, $750 is nothing to sneeze at!
We were given the privilege to host my niece's HS Graduation party at our house for our side of the family.  It was, as far as weather is concerned, I think the worst day of spring thus far.  Amazing! Cold, Blustery, Rainy, Crappy day!  So, instead of a nice relaxing party on the party deck, we were all snuggled inside the house as though it were the middle of winter.  One really nice thing is that my brother Ray was able to make it to the party.  He's been living in California for a couple of months now and was able to catch a plane for the event.  It was nice seeing him and I'm sure he was happy to celebrate his youngest daughter's accomplishment.  She not only graduated, but with honors; Summa Cum Laude.  We're not sure where she gets her brains!

We survived the "Rapture"...not without some nervous thoughts of what if it's real...?

My niece Sam, who is visiting from Washington state came along with me on my Senior Citizen's Monday.  I think she enjoyed the time and spending time with her is really nice.  She is easy to talk to, funny and fun.  We ended our day with one of grandma's short cuts with which she did very well...she later told me that she learned some patience this day.
We round off the month with one Confirmation (my nephew Jacob), one more HS graduation, with whom she is the Valedictorian! (my cousin Jill) and lastly a birthday party (my niece Jordan who turned 12).

weird...

I woke up fat today again...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

missy peyton at 7 months...

Just wanted to be a proud gramma and post a couple of recent pics of my grandbaby!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

update on the daddio...

The last couple of hospital visits for my dad were on the scary side.  They happened a year apart, nearly to the day.  Last year when my mom went in to check on him in the morning, he told her that he had never felt as close to death as he did right then.  Later, when the aide came to take him out of bed, she couldn't revive him.  It wasn't until the EMS guys were transferring him onto the gurney that he finally woke up and wondered what was going on.  He went to the hospital then and was kept in there for about a week for observation.  They gave a diagnosis of a UTI.

He becomes a little delusional when he is in the hospital - that's been happening for the last few years whenever he goes.  He'll see bugs on the walls, ladies on the edge of a hole about to fall in, people that aren't there.  We're told this happens to older people when they are not in their element.

So, on to this hospital visit.  I've pretty much went into the details of the visit in my last post and how he was behaving initially when he first came home.

I think we've learned from this last hospital visit that it takes about a week for him to return to "normal" once he comes home.  Oh man, those first days home are so sad and scary.  He was trying so hard to get himself out of bed because "he needs to go somewhere", he was going to hurt himself.  He was talking so fast that all the words were all jumbled together.  It was sort of a nervous speaking pattern.  During these times of uncertainty, I am so prone (in my brain) to get the hell out of there.  I don't want to see him like that and I don't want to lie to him when he is asking me (for instance) for his cane so he can "go walk somewhere"...what do you say?  I tried the truth, but he looked at me like I was crazy.  So, I told him that I was going to ask mom where it was.  However, he could clearly see it in the corner of his room (it was not there) and wanted me to "just go get it for him".  I pretended not to hear him and I walked out of his room...and nearly ran out of the house.

In these situations, it's good that he really can't walk...otherwise where would we find him?

Anyway, onwards to this week and a more uplifting outlook.  He's all back!  He's got good hand/eye coordination (as much as he had prior to the hospital) and he's painting again.  Mom feels comfortable enough to leave him alone again for short periods...which is really good because otherwise she would be slipping into a depression.

Getting old really stinks from what I can tell.  Maybe not so bad for those that still have their health, but for those that are compromised...niet zo goed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

emotionally beat...

What a crazy week it has been.  This week, I was the only kid in my family that was still in town.  My sisters live on the east coast, my brother Ray moved to California, my brother Marty and his family were in Florida on vacation and my husband was in Germany for work.

My mother called me at work on Thursday morning to tell me that my dad was not responding to the aide (Donna) when she tried to wake him up.

Once in a while they'd be able to get some words from him but they were repeated and were eerie to those who had to listen.  He would say "I don't know what happened" or "why am I hurting?".

He was taken to the hospital by the EMS where I was there to check him in.  We were in the ER hallway for a couple of hours with many hospital personnel asking the same questions "What brings him in today".  I think I answered this question to 5-10 different people...I wish they'd all have a meeting because my story seemed to be changing with each visit.

Emotional time when he would "wake up" and moan "ow, ow, ow, ow, ow"....and couldn't explain where he was hurting.  If he hurts, he never lets us know about it.

I was with him from 10:30 that morning until 7:30 that evening with little change.  I reported on Facebook that he was 20% of himself when I left.

He spent the next several days in the hospital.  My sisters came in to town to be there for my mom.  Our one sister is a little, I don't know, hypochondriac-like, by that I mean that she thinks about ALL the possibilities and asks a TON of questions.  This is OK, but makes our mom nervous.  But, if it wasn't for her, we would not have known until much later that it was not a stoke...it was not an infection (as previously told)...but it was severe dehydration that brought him to the hospital.

It seems kind of a weird thing, since it's not like he doesn't get fluids, but I guess the wrong kinds; coffee, wine, beer, juice.  It also seems weird that the reaction to dehydration was so extreme; being unconscious at times and then being delirious (signs of dementia), so weak too.

He came home on Monday night.  He's not fully recovered but nothing more could be done at the hospital and home is a better place for him.  By not fully recovered I mean that he's delusional - seeing people that aren't there, thinking he can walk (he has been unable to walk for 15+ years).  It's just really sad.  I'm sad.  I don't like this - he was painting everyday and now he's mad because the aides won't put him in a "regular" chair so he gets angry and tells them to put him back in bed.  He hates bed...but he also can't physically sit in a regular chair.

Anyway, I wanted to share a little something that my sister wrote today about my dad:

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING PLEASANT....a lesson from my dad.

My dad suffered an "episode" this past weekend on his long journey with Multiple Sclerosis.

It appears that dehydration caused him to pass out for short periods of time and when speech returned, he only babbled the same word over and over again. It was as if he had suffered a stroke.

In the hospital, after several hours of IV feedings, he started to revive, though over the few days of his stay, he continued to have moments of delusions.

Many of his delusions had strings connecting back to a truth or an event.

I'd like to share one that was rather poignant.

Before sharing my story, it has to be pointed out that my dad rarely complains.  We're all pretty sure that he is in physical pain on a daily basis. He was once a downhill skier, a mountain climber, a paratrooper, a water skier, a baseball player.  Now he is mechanically hoisted from his bed, moved to his wheel chair, and well taken care of by a few angels, my mother included. He still paints every day.  I can only imagine that his pain includes a certain amount of emotional pain over the other things he's lost along the way.


But you wouldn't know it - for he truly believes he is living a good life...and in some instances...a great life! When asked how he's doing, his favorite response is, "Fantastic, never been better!" (without a hint of sarcasm).

Yesterday, while he and I were chatting in the hospital, he mentioned that he "wanted to go up the street to St. John's (hospital) and visit Uncle Harry". Now, Uncle Harry passed away several years ago, but I was quickly learning that it's better to go along with dad's visions, so I added, "Oh, Uncle Harry was such a nice guy."

My dad responded, "Yes, Uncle Harry is a great guy, a very pleasant fella, good at making conversation and a great listener." "He's one of the most pleasant guys I know. And it just shows you how very important it is to be pleasant in this life. What goes around, comes around."

Aha! A family treasure, uncovered! A secret revealed!

We've often wondered where my dad gets his pleasant demeanor from. And in fact, after seeing both him and his brother, my Uncle Chuck together in the hospital (who suffered a stroke in his 50s, and is somewhat hindered on one side of his body, and can't really form words now)...the two of them are THE most pleasant men I know. (married to two of the strongest women I know!)

I was so touched by my dad's recollection of his Uncle...and moved to realize he was still trying to teach me something he valued....and what a lesson it is.

Grace in the midst of severe hardship...
And the importance of being pleasant.