Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lesson 224: Spread the Light

Recognize that, My Local Yokels?  

The bright sunshine brought out the buds for this Easter Sunday, 

and the sky matched perfectly with my new Smurf Sneakers.

It's 51 degrees and there are still patches of snow at the Lamp Post, but what do Erieites do?

We sunbathe.

Actually  in this photo Ellen sneakily snapped, I was napping.  I just got back from taking my family to an overnight downstate a bit.  Family Fun package deal--hotel with a pool, pizza, movies, five people crammed in a tiny hotel room meant to sleep four.  You know.  Bliss.

This is what it looked like outside on the day I left, so the sunshine was welcomed if not worshipped upon our return.

Aside from the light of the sunshine on Saturday, I am still basking in the glow from a difference source of light---a stranger name Fionnula Flanagan from Orange Beach, Alabama.  I found this in the Lamp Post mailbox on Good Friday:

I did not recognize the name, nor the address.  Inside I found this leather bound journal.

Enclosed was this beautiful poem about me and my blog.  A gift from a blog reader whom I've never met.  Fionnula's last couplet is perfect: 

This notebook spoke to me as your words often do,
A random act of kindness, as my thoughts were of you.

Fionnula--Here is my response to you, for all of the blogosphere to see:

There is no better time than today, Easter Sunday, to recognize such a kind act.  It is a day when Christians worldwide spread the good news:  He has risen!  He has risen, indeed!  Eloise will add to that gladness by reminding all of you what I truly believe:  People Are Awesome.

I love people.  I love their stories.  I love accents and dialects and different cultures.   I read biographies like Jones from The Noticer recommends.  There is lots to be learned from famous people who have changed the world in great ways--the Ben Franklins, the Jimmy Carters, the Steve Jobs.  But my favorite will always be the everyday heroes.  They are the people who go out of their way, and make a little extra effort to make another person's life a little better.  Like you Fionnula.  We've never met, but I bet you have a great story to tell.  Share it with me and I'll write it for you if you'd like (and I pinky swear not to publish it without your permission).  I am sure my readers will be intrigued as to what motivates you to such kind things for strangers.

Fionnula, did you know that I am a notebook carrier?  I have one with me at all times.  Lots of writers carry one around to jot notes down in as they think of them.   I've had notebooks for years.  It's funny--but I was getting close to finishing the one I have now.  This is it.  You even chose my favorite type--soft leather cover with the ribbon bookmark!

What do you write in them, Eloise?, you are all wondering.  Just ask my sister Kenyan.  She's been reading my diaries for years.  They were more exciting back in my college days.  Now, they look more like this:

Not too exciting, huh Fionnula?  You can see what I needed to pick up from the store, the rooms I had to clean, and that I was feeling under the weather on Sunday.

I save all my journals.  They serve as a nice record of events.  You can see I make blog notes in them.

I also write down dates I need to remember, Bible verses, phone numbers, things I love, and people I love.  The photo attached to the inside cover of this journal is the obituary photo of my neighbor Myra who passed away suddenly a few years ago.  It's my way of hanging on to things I can't let go of.  

Often people get me notebooks for gifts.  They are Eloise's favorite of all gifts I receive.  When I do get the chance to choose my own journals, the covers are always symbolic of me in some way.  These are from my LOST phase.  I'm still in it actually.  LOST is something I don't think I'll ever be able to let go of.  Favorite.  Show.  Ever. And if this means anything to my regular readers---I love Jack Shepard more than Tim McGraw.

This one is absolutely perfect.  Fionnula--I'll be happy to pen your story.  

It would be silly of me to assume that you are celebrating Easter, too, Fionnula.  I see you are from Alabama, and last time I checked, we live in a country where we can freely worship as we choose.  However I do believe God loves us all, and He is very pleased with your random act of kindness. This can and should be recognized on Easter as well as every day forward.

Thank you, Fionnula for making my day extra special.

Here is an extra special picture slide show for you.  I'm in such a good mood because of my new lamppost notebook, I even included some shots of me in a bathing suit.  Nope.  They aren't the early 1990's Erie calendar shots which I bought the negatives for and keep in my super secret place.  The photos are taken with my super cool new, very inexpensive camera I named Tough Mudder.  I'm a mom now, so nothing too exciting.  This little Fuji camera is virtually indestructible.  I got it for Christmas and haven't wrecked it yet.  It's bounce proof, freeze proof, and water proof!  We found out this weekend it takes kick @$$ underwater shots, too!

Enjoy the photos of my weekend set to Morning Has Broken by the Christian band, Third Day.  Have a blessed day everyone, especially you Fionnula!


Friday, March 29, 2013

Lesson 223: Good Friday

My dear Friends,

For so long now I have been among you writing these blogs.  I care about you, my readers,  more than you could possibly know.  Even though you cannot see me, you can sense my presence as I am behind the camera lens watching your every move.

Your time on earth is a gift to use wisely.  Don't squander your words or your thoughts.  Consider that even the simplest actions you take for your lives matter beyond measure....and they matter forever.

You may not read me again, here, in this place, but I trust that the seeds I have planted in your minds and hearts will be sufficient to carry you forward.  These are the seeds of perspective.  During the challenge times ahead, you will find that a simple seed of perspective more valuable than diamonds or gold.

I am not gone.  I will be around.  The best is yet to come.


Thought I was shuttin' down, didntcha?  From reading me over the past two and a half years, couldn't you tell that was not my writing style?  You aren't gettin' rid of me just yet!  I got lots more to say!

You're all safe.  The bulb is still burning bright at the Lamp Post.  I paraphrased the words written above from the end of The Noticer by Andy Andrews.  It is part of Jones's final letter found in his mysterious suitcase he carries with him.  For those who purchased the soft cover for our Blog Book Club, the letter begins on page 153.  

In case you haven't read it, I don't want to spoil the very good ending.  Here's a hint though; it has something to do with these.  My family is getting them in their Easter baskets this year.

This is a nice portion of The Noticer to post on Good Friday.  Eloise is a Christian and this part of the story in particular reminds me of that.  Jones, the chameleon-like teacher appearing differently to every person who sees him, goes away. However Jones is not gone.

...and according to this good news, neither is The Noticer!

The sequel will be available October 1, 2013.  You can bet Eloise will be first in line to get her copy.

It snowed all week, leaving me and my Erieites wondering if this winter will ever end.

That didn't stop Eloise and her friends from another winter workout.  

Sam has been wearing his birthday crown for three days straight.
He actually read his birthday card from cousin Polly this year!

Sam blew out six candles and we had some cake.  

There is just something that takes away from the sweetness of it all when these guys are looking up at you.

 Natalie is enjoying extra time to work on her marker art.

 This is as much as poor Ellen will allow me to photograph because she's spending her vacation on the couch sick.  Tonsillitis and a sinus infection.  At least she has time to work on her weaving project for art class.  See, there is always a bright side.  Jones is right.  It is all about perspective.

Enjoy some of my snowy pictures from the week.  The video is set to Go Rest High on That Mountain by Vince Gill.  It reminds me of Good Friday.  If you've lost someone recently, this song may be comforting to you as well.  It is pretty.

Make it a Good Friday,

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lesson 222: 2 + 2 + 2 = SIX!

Happy Birthday, Sam!
He is 6 today!

My boy is six years old today and we have a day off of school.  He could not be happier.  Sam is downstairs playing with the wrestlers he wanted so desperately, so I have a few minutes to blog about my third born, my surprise child, my loudest laughter, and my snarl of frustration.  My Sam.

Bless this woman.  This is Mrs. P, his Kindergarten teacher at Clark School.  Although he is enjoying his day off today, Sam really does love school.  It's been the single best thing for him, being in a structured setting with constant challenge and learning.  School is a good thing.

Sam can read like nobody's business and is learning lots.  My boy has taught me a thing or two as well.  For starters, I learned to buy three pairs of every style of jeans that fit because within a month they have holes in the knees.  Then I learned just to purchase two because he grows so fast.

Sam is a big boy.  Weighing in at 73 pounds, he's a hefty Kindergartner.  He stands a full head taller than most of his peers.  

He loves sports.  Football and wrestling are the most appealing to him at the moment.  And for some idiotic reason, I decided to buy him these.  Momentary mental lapse.  

Recently when we were getting his hair cut at the Barber Shop in Lawrence Park (he won't have a thing to do with Beauty Shops--says they smell like girls), the barber commented on his size.  "You are a big boy, Sam," said Tom.  "What's your best sport?"  I sat nearby, leafing through a boring Fish & Game magazine, waiting to hear "wrestling" come out of my son's mouth.  Sam, in keeping with his annoying habit of making one guess everything, replied to the barber, "Guess."

Tom listed a million sports from football to Nascar, even mentioning wrestling directly to which Sam shook his head.  I put down the intriguing article on Crappy Crappie, and waited, myself puzzled as well.  When Tom hit pairs figure skating, Sam realized he was skating on thin ice as to the barber's thoughts of him.  Sam gave in and whispered "boxing!" to Tom, holding his hand to one side of his mouth to block the knowledge from reaching me.  Too bad Sam held his hand to the wrong side of his mouth.

I don't think this will end soon---this innate calling that attracts Sam to things that are loud, fast, rough, dangerous, gross, and well--kind of ugly (look at that mask!).  All things that can give a Momma a nightmare.   My boy is a tiger by nature and that is hard to tame, but I'm trying.  At the end of some long days I feel more like a circus trainer than a mother.

But after every long day of furniture jumping, joke telling, and learning to say "Excuse me," comes a new morning.  Like today.  Sam was greeted with a pile of gifts to recognize the day of his birth.

The first person he ran to after checking out his brightly wrapped loot was Ellen, his Other Mother.  He kissed her forehead and asked how she was feeling.  The tiger showed his softer, gentler side.

Ellen's down AGAIN with another illness.  This time tonsillitis and a sinus infection.  She slept on the living room floor last night because she didn't want to keep Sam up all night with her coughing.  She wanted to make sure Sam was rested and ready for his big day.

I reminded Ellen how sick she was the day Sam came home from the hospital after his birth.  That very day Ellen got the chicken pox AND strep throat.  She was so sick and could not hold the little brother she had been anxiously waiting for.  That was six years ago, and when I look down from my perch here in the Lamp Post, I can still see where Sam's baby cradle sat plain as day.  Blink.  Now he's wrestling a couch pillow in the same spot.  Back to reality.

My boy is a tiger, but he got his stripes from me.  I know what makes him tick better than anyone.  No one loves him more than I do.  That is why I chose Eye of the Tiger for his birthday blog song.  None fits him better.  

Maybe someday I will relent and he'll get his chance to box in the ring.  I asked him just now what he wants to be when he grows up and he said, "a policeman."  I'd be happy with that.  We'd be the safest town in the nation.  Whatever he chooses, I will be right behind him, watching him, even if he doesn't see me.  He's born of my stripes.  He's my tiger.  

Enjoy some funny snapshots of bowling with Kindergartners, as well as some old baby photos of Sam.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lesson 221: He's a Liar!

For my North Coast Readers:  


The Erieites are getting a bit grouchy this week.  
We are growing tired of our snow brushes and ice scrapers.

And we want HIS head on a platter.

Punxatawney Phil is one wanted furball around my parts.  Not only did he tick his home-state homeys off, he got the ruffians to the west of us steamed.  Phil pissed off Ohio.  Ohioans aren't as nice as Pennsylvanians. Ever been to a Steelers vs Browns game?  How about Penn State vs Ohio State match ups?  Watch one and you'll see what I mean.  The Pennsylvanians are always sitting nicely, cheering and clapping.  The fans from Ohio look like this:

Here is a report on Phil from an Ohio "news" source:

FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2013

Ohio Blames Punxsutawney Phil for Faulty Forecast, Demands Death Penalty

Posted by  on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 6:02 PM

Punxsutawney Phil, rodent weather oracle extraordinaire, done effed up this year—seriously, just look outside—and now Butler County, Ohio, is pissed on behalf of all Ohioans that Phil’s prediction of an early spring wasn’t exactly on point. The county’s prosecuting attorney, Michael Gmoser, filed an indictment, “The State of Ohio vs. Punxsutawney Phil,” that charges the little dude with “misrepresentation of early spring” and calls for the death penalty

Sheesh!  Told you Ohioans were a rough bunch.

I think Phil does the best he can with the weather.   I'd say he's only human but I guess that would be pretty dumb.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Even groundhogs.  If Phil could utter the words, "I'm sorry," would we forgive him?

How about this:  WWJD?  No.  Not Jesus. What would Jones do?  You know, Jones.  From the Noticer. The book I've been blogging about forever.

Jones discusses forgiveness on page 116 if you have the soft cover copy.  It is the section about Henry, who has asked his wife and employees for forgiveness and hasn't received it yet.  Jones explains to Henry why forgiveness is much harder to receive than he thought.  It is not a casual term to be tossed around, misused, or made light of.  True forgiveness is intense.

Henry, responds to Jones in frustration, "I told them I had made a lot of mistakes.  I told them I was sorry--"

Jones explains the problem lies in the definition of  the word mistake.  Henry did not make a mistake, where a simple apology would have been enough.  Henry made a choice.  Henry's mess ups were more than a whoops.  He consistently and consciously made choices--and that clean up requires much more effort to fix.  

Here is your thinking assignment this week, Readers:  In Your Rule Book, is there a difference between  "I'm sorry," and "Will you please forgive me?"  When is "I'm sorry acceptable?  What instances would require more than that?

Look at Phil with Jones's perspective, Ohioans.  Is an "I'm sorry" enough, or does he need to plead for forgiveness?

Eloise is over it.  I'm defending Phil. 

He's a rodent and rodents make mistakes.
It said so on Wikipedia, so it must be true.

 Plus, the snow makes for pretty photographs. 
Eloise will take advantage of the interesting light and shadow for a few more days.

This is the tree in front of the Lamp Post.

And this is the same tree exactly five minutes later.

Twilight is amazing in the winter.  
I've learned to enjoy the opportunity, despite the cold.

Boy was it ever cold this week.

It was 20 degrees outside on Tuesday as I headed out for my outdoor workout.  Natalie's thermometer told me I needed to wear boots, mittens, and a scarf.  

Some of my teammates did:

And one of them didn't:

Still I consider myself 

to be able to get out there and do it week after week with a bunch of people I adore.
Eloise makes her own happiness in any kind of weather.

Sam spent last weekend trying to make his own luck.  He was leprechaun hunting all day on Sunday.

Sam was convinced he saw footprints leading to the woodpile.

"Hellbent on finding one" was an understatement.

He even tried to lure them out.  No luck.

Perhaps Sam will have more luck on the lanes on Saturday.  It is his birthday party.  He's been anticipating it for over a month.  And so have I.

About a month ago I told Sam we should start thinking about his birthday.  "I'm way ahead of you, Mom," he said.  (So true....).  He proceeded to tell me that he invited his entire Kindergarten class to his birthday.  After I came to....... and decided un-inviting five year olds was rude, we settled on the bowling alley as the best place to host the festivities.  Sam has already made his lane assignments.  

I am now wondering how many times I'll have to say "I'm sorry" or "Will you please forgive me?" to the owner of North East Lanes.  I'll let you know next week.  

Wish me

Enjoy the photos of what spring looks like in Erie this year, and those brave enough to embrace it with me.