Celebrate Independence Day

St Clair Fireworks 2

Photo by Grace Grogan; copyright 2014

Wishing everyone a safe and happy 4th of July.  I am glad that I live in a city that still believes in having their 4th of July Fireworks on the appropriate day, so on Saturday evening I will be enjoying bursts of color shot from a barge over the St. Clair River.   With Ron and I being photographers, we watch with cameras on tripods to capture the event.

My weekend is kicking off with a visit from my best friend, Vicki, who lives four hours away.  We haven’t seen each in several months.  She and her boyfriend are taking a motorcycle trip along the eastern coast of Michigan this weekend and are stopping in for the night.

Fireworks as viewed from Palmer Park in St. Clair.  Photo by Grace Grogan  Copyright 2014

Fireworks as viewed from Palmer Park in St. Clair. Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2014

The Blue Water Area is full of things to do on this weekend.  The Blue Water Sandfest, an amateur and professional sand sculpting event is being held at the Ft. Gratiot Lighthouse, Algonac is having their Pickerel Festival, and there are numerous other events throughout the area as well.

Wishing Everyone a Safe and Happy 4th of July.

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Filed under Holidays, Life is a Melting Pot

Photo Seminar and Seven Ponds Nature Center

A couple weeks ago my husband, Ron, and I attended the Seven Ponds Nature Center Photo Expo.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and we had the opportunity to take classes and enjoy taking photographs at the nature center.  We split up, taking separate classes to fit our own personal interests and so we could share information from as many sources as possible.

Class subjects we participated in included Travel Photography, Subject Elements and Composition in Nature, Night/Low Light Photography, and Shades of Gray (visualizing your photograph in black and white when shooting).  Extended and overlapping break times allowed us to meet up and eat lunch together in the car before once again splitting up.  We even walked areas of the nature center separately, which is sometimes beneficial so that our photographs are not all alike or of the exact same subjects.

There were several drawings for door prizes and Ron was the lucky winner of a $50 gift certificate to Camera Mart in Pontiac — a place that we frequent.  While at the seminar we purchased a new mono-pod for Ron and a new tri-pod that converts to a mono-pod for me.  I had been having trouble with my tripod and the Benro dealer informed me it could be sent in and re-worked/repaired at no charge by using his name from the seminar.  Needless to say I was very pleased to hear that, and Camera Mart handled getting that sent in for me.

Nature photography is something we both enjoy.  Everyone taking a walk in a wooded area or nature center should always have some form of camera available to capture the things that make those walks beautiful to you.  Take the time to look and enjoy the small things.  There are times I have taken walks with others who are not photographers, and they traverse the area much faster than I, because I am spotting and photographing many subjects that they never see.   I’m including some pictures taken the day of the seminar at Seven Ponds Nature Center.

~~ ALL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN BY GRACE GROGAN ~~
~~COPYRIGHT 2015 GRACE GROGAN.~~

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Filed under Life is a Melting Pot, nature, Photography

Caught up in Life

The past couple weeks it seems like life has been in a whirl and I can’t seem to catch up.   But then, how boring would life be if it were always the same.

Some of you who have been readers for a while know about the struggles of my husband, Ron, and I trying to adopt our two granddaughters.  We were denied the youngest, Kae-Lee, and she was adopted by her foster care parents almost a year ago.  We were still hoping to get Kiley, who is seven and severely handicapped, but we recently received the denial that they are giving her to complete strangers who live in northern Michigan, ironically in the very area where Ron’s parents retired to and we have spent a lot of time.  That adoption will most likely go through in the near future.  I did put in a call to the attorney that was trying to help us before to see what the retainer would be and what she thinks the chances are of winning a Section 45 hearing, but I already know from reading numerous appeals decisions that it is very hard to win.

Life is like a bicicleWhat is very frustrating is CPS/DHS denied us contact with the girls, both before and after the termination of parental rights.  Then when Michigan Children’s Institute wanted us to have supervised visits for MCI to make a final adoption decision, DHS fought against that as well and the judge ruled against us getting the visits.  So what is one of the reasons we are being denied?  Lack of contact for over three years — and yet they are giving her to a complete stranger.

When the adoption agency wrote their recommendation that we adopt, they recommended we get only the older one, not the younger.  Why?  Because the younger had been with the foster care family from the time she was an infant and they wanted to adopt.  As for Kiley, they said she should be adopted into a family as the only child — but they are awarding her to a family that has other handicapped children in it.

Their third reason was that we do not have experience in caring for a child with severe handicaps requiring 24-hour care.  The time we spent caring for her prior to being kidnapped by CPS apparently doesn’t count.  That’s okay, because I had started a book about this situation and was taking my time to see what the outcome would be.  Now that I know, I can delve into my writing more intensely and obviously will have a lot of time for promotion of the book once published.

I know we are not the only family this has happened to.  Kidnapping by Child Protective Services/Department of Human Services is a nationwide problem, no family is safe.  Removal of children from loving homes, placing them in foster care and then giving priority to non-family members, rather than biological relatives, has been going on for at least 15-20 years and needs to be stopped.

If you were not reading my blog at the time I wrote in more detail about our situation you can check it out at Attempted Adoption.  I would love to hear from others who have had experiences with this type of situation, good or bad.

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Filed under Adoption, Family, grandchildren

Re-Connecting with Old Friends

Friend - meeting after a long time and nothing has changedWhen I saw this image I instantly made a connection with it.  This has happened to me twice.  Once several years ago and again within the past couple months.

While it is always fun to have a wide assortment of friends and to make new friends wherever you go, there is something of value that cannot be replaced with a long-standing friendship.  A friendship that regardless of how long you have not spoken or how long you have been apart maintains an unexplainable level of comfort.  Those are the friendships to be treasured.

I have a friend I met when we were both attending business college back in 1978.  We quickly became friends and although I was only at the school a few months we remained friends.  All of our lives we have lived about four hours apart and contact was limited.

Once I left college we only saw each other a few times.  Vicki got married and I attended her wedding.  Then I got married and when I became pregnant she brought her daughter, a toddler, to my baby shower.  That was the last time we saw each other for several years.

There was no internet, so communication was either phone or snail mail.  With us snail mail was all we did, long distance calls were expensive.  Eventually computers and internet became a way of life and we connected via email, sending each other lengthy emails on an almost daily basis. We were email friends, but still had not seen each other in about 20 years.

When my youngest child was going to be attending a camp in Indiana I realized I would be traveling through Vicki’s area to drop him off.  I inquired about hotels in the area where I might be able to stay on the return trip and then visit her.  Vicki’s immediate response was that I could come stay with her.  I accepted.

Neither of us were concerned about re-connecting in person after so many years.  The man she was dating at the time was, and asked if she wasn’t concerned that we would run out of things to talk about and get bored.  She wasn’t.  We didn’t.   We had a great time, I taught Vicki about scrapbooking, a hobby of mine, and got her hooked  After that we spent years meeting halfway between our homes several times a year to do scrapbooking crops at a large store, then later at her mother’s house.  Recently she came and stayed at my home a couple times to scrap.

We have once again reached a point where we are not getting together as often due to certain commitments in our respective lives.  Sometime in the near future Vicki will be moving out of state to live near her daughter and grandchildren.  However we have a fast and firm friendship.  We have to stay friends, we know too much about each other to ever become enemies!

My more recent connection was on a much different level.  It was someone who I met when I was in 7th grade, 11 years old and he was in 8th grade, 12 years old.  Brad followed me home from school to get my phone number and from that point on until I was 19 and he 20 we were boyfriend/girlfriend off and on, but more on than off.  Everyone assumed we would eventually marry, but we didn’t.  I was the one that made the final break when I met the person that is now and has been my husband for the past 33 years.

I only saw Brad twice after that, once at a mutual friend’s home, and once when he came over to exchange belongings.  When I married I moved two hours away.  I would get updates, or mutual friends would make comments about him on occasion, but we had no contact.

About two years ago we connected on Facebook.  I don’t remember who made the friend request.  However I am more of a Facebook fanatic than Brad is, so most of our communication has been through IM messages.  We have extensive periods of time when there is no contact.  Although I occasionally traveled to  my old hometown, that was for the purpose of visiting family and we never saw each other.

Two years ago my mother passed away, and then my father six months ago.  That left an entire house for my sister and I to empty out, and it is the house they moved into in 1966, the one I grew up in.  A lot of things to go through, so I began making trips home on alternating weekends to do clean-out.  Brad was aware and suggested on one of those trips we get together for dinner or coffee.

About a month ago we did just that.  Brad came to my parents home to pick me up, which was a bit of deja vu.  We had a nice time at dinner reconnecting, and I invited him into the house to continue the conversation after dinner.  It was an enjoyable evening talking about our parents, siblings, spouses, children and grandchildren.   We ended the evening agreeing we would have to do it again sometime.

Brad and I had not seen each other since 1980, but it was a comfortable interaction..  I am glad we reconnected and value the friendship, which I anticipate will grow stronger as time passes.  A friendship developed from old memories of times gone by, but continuing to build through the sharing our current life accomplishments and challenges.

True Friendship is something to cherish, hold dear, and enjoy.  Strong, long-time friendships are the best.

Friends - best friends - don't talk every day but when do its as if you never stopped

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Filed under communication, Life is a Melting Pot

Feeling the Energy

I felt the challenge and I couldn’t resist.  My sister called up and said “when you come up this weekend, we won’t be eating out, I’ll be providing all the food because I started a new diet”

Okay, that intrigued me and challenged me.  My sister is on a diet.  I need to diet.  Don’t want her loosing and I’m not so I found out what the diet was and went out and purchased the book.  Of course I was at a disadvantage as I had not read it yet, but not wanting to be left behind I found and downloaded a cheat sheet off the internet I could use to muddle my way through the first week or so till I finished reading.

I am now on Week 3, and although I haven’t lost as much as I would have liked, probably due in part to my start without a full understanding of the diet, a couple flub-ups here and there and my refusal to give up coffee 100%, I must say it is a great plan for energizing your metabolism and the information in the book in and of itself is fascinating.

The book provides information on the reasons why she eliminates certain foods from the diet, such as wheat, corn, soy, dairy and caffeine.  It makes sense.  The book says that it resets your metabolism and I believe it does.  I have more energy and feel better than I have since a bad accident I was in five years ago.  I am wondering if that intense set-back got my metabolism out of whack and it never corrected itself.

This plan has an all-around health benefit.   I am more relaxed yet more energized all at the same time.Fast Metabolism DietI find I am sleeping better, more sound.  I have degenerative arthritis in an ankle that was severely injured in the accident and prior to starting this diet was taking a considerable amount of ibuprofen in addition to my prescription anti-inflammatory medication.  I have only used ibuprofen once, maybe twice in the three weeks since I started the diet.

The diet is easy to follow.  It is a 3-phase process through each week to keep your metabolism guessing and active.  It is eating all fresh, non-processed foods, and only sprouted grain products.  It is a bit of a stab at the grocery store, but the food tastes so much better and is amazing.  No chemicals, no nitrates.  Just good flavorful food, and nothing canned; fresh or frozen only.  Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, grains that meet criteria such as sprouted breads and wild rice, and a variety of meats, just make sure they are nitrate free.

The hardest adjustment to the diet is having to consume water  equivalent in ounces to 50% of your body weight, so if you weight 160, you have to drink 80 ounces of water per day, if you weigh 180 you would drink 90 ounces of water per day, etc.    I don’t find getting the water down hard, but it takes a while for the body to adjust so trips to the restroom are dramatically increased.

One surprise, I am down from drinking a full 10-cup pot of coffee plus about 32-48 ounces of tea per day to only 1/2 of a pot, the equivalent of 5 cups of coffee in the morning.  No more caffeine the rest of the day.  Even more surprising was that I never experienced the caffeine withdrawal headaches.  I assume another benefit of this eating plan.

One thing I failed to mention, this is a 28-day plan.  You can do as many 28-day cycles as you want.  You can do the plan for 28 days, take a break then start back on it again.  The plan is to re-set your metabolism so that you have more energy and when you do eat high sugar, consume alcohol, eat a high-fat product your body’s metabolism is working at its peak and can digest and process the food through your system properly.

Whether you are in need of loosing weight, feel sluggish, or want to eat a healthier diet, I recommend reading The Fast Metabolism Diet.

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Filed under Diet, Life Changing, Meals

Trilium Trek

          The trillium is a delicate, small, wildflower that blooms in the spring.  They can be found in white, pink, red, and the very rare painted variety.  Since 1980 the only sightings of the painted trillium in Michigan have all been within a 30 mile area of St. Clair County.
          Knowing that they were in bloom, my husband, Ron, and I went out on a search for painted trillium a couple weeks ago.  They are located in a wooded nature area.  Although I have not used bug spray in years, when you open the car door and the mosquitoes are coming inside you know precaution is needed.
          When you haven’t used bug spray in a while, there are a few pointers to remember.
          1.  When misting your face make sure you keep your mouth shut — that stuff does not taste good!
          2.  Spaying the majority of your body does not prevent mosquitoes from finding the spot you missed.
          3.  You will find out you forgot to spray an area at a most inopportune moment, such as when bent over taking a photograph and one decides to bite you on the backside through your jeans.
          4.  Evidence of a poor spray job may not become evident for hours, such as when you look in the mirror and realize the small section on the back of your arm from you elbow to wrist is covered in mosquito bites — 27 of them to be exact.
          Not that I’m admitting to any of the above, but knowledge does come from experience.  Of course a pain-endured labor does have its just rewards.  We found all three kinds of trillions, a slug, a toad, and a few other items to photograph.  A pleasant morning photographing nature.

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Filed under bugs, flowers, nature, Photography

Treasures from Trash

You drive down the road, passing the bins and bags of trash people have set out for the next day’s garbage collection.  Have you ever wondered what great things might be in those bags?  Have you ever thought about people you see going through someone else’s trash and what items they find?

Treasures recently found while scrapping

Treasures recently found while scrapping

It is amazing what valuable items people throw out.  I often wonder why such valuable stuff ends up in the trash instead of being donated.  However each person that chooses to toss instead of donating can be a benefit to me.  My house is filled with items that people threw out as trash.  My computer printer sits on a small 3-drawer wood dresser, picked up from someone’s trash.  My family room contains a Little Tikes Bookcase filled with books, Large Little Tikes toy chest filled with toys, and a Little Tikes car track table for hot wheels, all picked up from someone’s garbage.  My kitchen contains a large decorative bowl on my table, dinnerware, some bake wear, and miscellaneous other items picked up from someone’s trash.   We have vases and figurines, baskets, bags, antique cameras, stuffed animals, and a metal twin-size bed, all picked up out of someone’s trash.  There is a bookshelf, 2-drawer solid metal filing cabinet, 2-drawer wood filing cabinet, 4-drawer fire-proof filing cabinet and a Lifestyler CardioFit machine.  I have numerous holiday decorations including a lighted, moving carousel that plays your choice of Christmas or other music.  I even have shelves of brand-new hardcover books. In my backyard you will find a Little Tikes Coupe, Little Tikes Slide, Little Tikes Tree House/Swing combination, Little Tikes Pool, Little Tikes Picnic Table/Sand Box combination, and  Little Tikes House.  All Picked Up From Trash!

IMG_0658

Ron home from picking up his new scrapping truck – complete with scrap in the back

 How did I obtain all these items?  Because a few years back my husband, Ron, got into scrapping — the process of driving around, going through people’s trash looking for scrap metal.  He runs different routes different nights of the week, and can take apart sofa sleepers, washers, dryers, water tanks, fans, and numerous  other items to separate out the various types of metals, wires and motors.  In the process of looking for scrap he comes across tons of valuable items that he brings home.  We have provided entire Christmas gatherings with “white elephant” gifts picked up when he was scrapping — and even wrapped them all in Christmas wrap he had picked up.

Things were going well until about a year ago when Ron’s scrapping truck diedat the scrapyard.  So he did what every good scrapper does – he scrapped it!  Then began the search, looking for a truck of decent quality but not too expensive to use for scrapping.  He found one about a week ago.  A 2007 Chevrolet Silverado with an 8-foot bed.

Scrapping Finds 2

Ron’s truck after his first night of scrapping

Ron claimed he wasn’t going to get into scrapping again, but I believe once a scrapper, always a scrapper.  Last Monday he picked up a piece of metal scrap on his way home from picking up the truck.  Then my daughter called and told him where a couple items had been set out in our town and he went and got them.  On Saturday Ron asked me if he used to run a route on Sunday nights and I confirmed he did.  On Sunday he announced that he was going to go scrapping that evening.  Do you think I was surprised?  Not at all — and he came home with the truck over filled.  He also went out a couple other days during the week.

Ron's scrapping truck painted by graffiti artists

Ron’s scrapping truck painted by graffiti artists

Ron's Truck

Ron’s truck in the process of being graffiti painted

Now all we have to do is get his truck graffiti painted like his old one.  It was an eye-catcher, and everyone knew where he was.  But for now, it is just an ordinary white pick-up, and will most likely have something in the back end at all times.

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Filed under Activities, Blue Water Area, Life is a Melting Pot

Living The Quote

We see them on Facebook.  Those little “images” of quotes that make you laugh, smile, or remind you of something about yourself or others you know.    I love those quotes.  I will spend time searching for them on various topics, saving them so I can repost them later.     Here are a few thoughts, quote style.

Trip over nothingI was born a klutz, there is no other explanation and as a result this quote fits me perfectly.  I can live in a house for years yet forget where the walls are and walk right into them.  I even walked into a clear glass window at the mall one time, thinking it was the exit from a store.  Just like in a TV show, full force impact with the glass, glass shakes, people stare, I feel stupid.

I even fell at my own wedding.  I stepped down from the alter, put my foot into the hoop of my wedding gown and although my husband tried to hold me up, it was useless and I went to my knees.  Luckily I am the type of person that laughs when embarrassed, so those wedding pictures of me coming down the isle show a huge laughing smile.Friends - best friends - don't talk every day but when do its as if you never stopped

I have a best friend who fits this quote perfectly.  We live three hours apart and maintain our friendship through occasional get-togethers or phone calls, but the majority of our contact is via email.  We became friends in 1978 and have had periods in which contact was almost non-existent, but when we re-connected it was great and we were not at a loss for words.

Photography - a love affair with lifeMy husband and I are both photographers, and anything and everything is a photo subject.  I believe photographers do have a love for life, and the ability to see beyond what the average person sees.

A non-photographer will take a walk down a path and enjoy the view and nature.  The photographer will walk that same path and find small, overlooked objects to photograph.  Fungus on a tree, moss on a log, spiders spinning webs or butterflies on weeds.  Photographers have a keen eye for seeing what others pass by.  I have started out on paths with people I know, but they ended up far ahead of me because I kept stopping to take pictures.  A lot of the items I captured with my camera they admitted they never noticed.

nothing is really lost till mom can't find itMoms have the ability to locate the lost, misplaced, items of life.  When my kids were young I would get a call at work, “mom, where is my __________?”  You know what the amazing thing is — I usually knew!  Why is it they are in the room and/or building where they item they lost is at, but I can find it through a telephone wire faster than they can find it standing in its location?  Why? Because I’m a mom!

walk in my shoes and end up at barMy husband and I have endured many things throughout our 33 year marriage.  Some people know what we have encountered, others have no clue.  When I met him he was in the midst of a very nasty divorce, we went through an entire custody trial regarding his daughter, we raised two children with ADHD, children who got into legal trouble, a severely injured grandchild and the dealings with CPS and DHS that followed, our son’s termination of his parental rights, our attempt to adopt our two granddaughters and the battle with DHS, health issues, and multiple other things.  A friend once said when you read my Christmas newsletters you have no idea the turmoil that is brewing beneath the surface.  I think the quote “walk a mile in my shoes” should be taken to heart with anyone you deal with, because you may not really know what they are coping with below the surface.motorcycle - you haven't lived till grin and bug

I used to ride motorcycle, until an unfortunate accident five years ago  made that impossible.  I do miss it though, and I think people that have never ridden do not understand what they are missing.  it is an intense sense of freedom and relaxation that cannot be met my any other means.  I must say this quote reminds me of the times when I have captured a bug in my throat — and why is it always when cruising down an expressway at 70 mph, never on a surface street where you can stop and force it down with some water out of a saddle bag.    Swallowing bugs is just one of the side “benefits” of riding motorcycle that does not accompany other fun activities.

I can’t believe I have already shared six quotes, and there are so many more I would like to share that fit into my life.  They will have to be saved for another time and place.  However I do want to remind my readers of my favorite quote, the one that hangs on the wall in my house, the one on which this entire blog is based.Life is like a camera

Never forget that Life is like a camera.  The quote that hangs on my wall of this saying is accompanied by photographs that depict each statement, and the display can be seen on this website.  Simply click on the link Life is Like A Camera to view it.

Quotes - Life Isn't about Quotes about lifeIf all else fails, search through quotes and find one that fits your life, makes you smile, or stirs a memory.  After all, there are quotes about everything, including the fact that Life isn’t about Quotes About Life — or is it????

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Filed under assumptions, children, communication, Coping, decisions

Husband, Marsh, and Porta-Potty Challenges

Before heading onto the  boardwalk of Magee Marsh Ron and I made a pit-stop at the gift shop area.  Because hours are spent walking the boardwalk, taking pictures and observing birds I made a trip to the porta-potty while Ron headed to the gift shop.  The difference, this year I was prepared for the porta-potty challenge, at least I thought I was.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan
Copyright 2015

Last year I pulled out a sheet of toilet paper and notice a “shadow” on it, and turning it over discovered a huge black bug on the backside that scared the crap out of me (well, not literally), causing me to throw the toilet paper on the floor.  This year I pulled out a strip of paper and checked it over very carefully.  I was happy to find it bug-free.  I then watched a small spider come down from the ceiling and land on my purse, which I had carefully hung on the sanitizer dispenser.  Of course the dropping of the spider led me to look up, where I spotted a large spider on the ceiling.  Does the Magee Marsh porta-potty dislike me?  Can’t I use it without a bug problem coming up?  Apparently not.  The sacrifices of a photographer who needs to utilize the facilities before heading out to capture some bird shots.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan
Copyright 2015

I exit the porta-potty and enter to gift-shop where my husband, Ron, had gone.  He is standing in the check-out line when he sees me come in the door and immediately says “would you like a T-Shirt?”

He is purchasing a large poster and a T-shirt.  Where does he plan to put the poster?  We have no available wall space left.  His answer “I’ll take something down.”

Great!  I wonder what item gets demoted for the promotion of poster showing the various types of Warblers.  Time will tell, because he’ll have to get it framed first.  Now the T-shirt, whenever I see a new one of those come into the house or in his hands to purchase I just laugh.  Why?  Because the man could probably wear a different T-shirt for the next 90-120 days before having to do laundry.  Granted a few of them may be showing their wear, have paint on them or a few holes, but for the most part they are good, nothing wrong with them T-shirts from various places and festivities.  However, we would not want him to feel deprived of a Bird Week shirt from Magee Marsh, so the purchase was made.

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Magee Marsh is located in Ohio and is a great place for photographers and bird watchers. It is where Warblers gather each spring before flying over Lake Erie on their migration north in the spring.  Unfortunately we were a bit early and there weren’t many birds at the location yet.  It was a nice, warm day on the boardwalk, and if you look around you can usually find things to photograph, such as moss growing on a log, or a turtle sunning himself in the sun.

There are two kinds of people you find at the Marsh this time of year.  The photographers, like Ron and I, with our camera’s and large lenses to capture photographs or the true bird watchers who are carrying bird books, check lists, and binoculars.  Both are friendly groups, so a nice mixture to share space with.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

About half way around the marsh my bad ankle started causing me problems, with pain shooting from the ankle up to the knee.  We were almost at the end when my wonderful husband did his best to take my mind off the sore, swollen and throbbing ankle.  As I was standing with my back to him, sore foot off the ground and one hand holding the boardwalk rail for balance, Ron swung his camera around to take a photograph of a bird up in a tree.  Sounds simple and uneventful, doesn’t it?  Only one glitch, in the process he clobbers me in the back of the head with his 150-500mm lens,  I hear an “oops” and he is off and shooting.  Luckily the head only hurt for a few minutes after I hobbled my way to the end of the boardwalk and sat down on a bench to wait for him to finish.

We get in the car, and as we start to roll down the long exit road from the Marsh I look at him and say “For future reference, hitting me in the back of the head with your camera lens did not draw my attention away from my sore ankle.”

Ron has it duly noted, but makes no guarantees it won’t happen again.  Such is life with a photographer, the shot must come first, but as I am also a photographer I understand the process.

Photographs by Grace Grogan are available for sale on Fine Art America.

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Filed under birds, bugs, nature, Photography

HAVE A FUN NEW GHT

Text messaging is something that many of us have mastered, that is until auto correct began.  Now intelligent messages that make sense are taken over and possessed by this great invention called auto correct.  It always makes life interesting. I seriously wonder what people 30-50 years from now are going to think if they come across our communication data.  Between the abbreviations we do ourselves such as BRB, BTW, BFF combined with auto correct, our decedents are going to think we were a hopeless bunch of illiterates.

Even more hysterical are the messages you get from people who try to voice text.  A friend of mine who NEVER swears used voice texting to send a message to her daughter, which came across as her having said F***K — it wouldn’t even spell out what it thought she said, and regardless it was dead wrong.   I once received a voice text that was supposed to be a serious message and related to work, but came across saying something about a bikini and the beach.  Not even close to what the message was.  It did give us a good laugh when the person walked in and said “did you get my message?” and I responded with “yes, but what does it mean?”

Now all we have to do is learn how to prevent our computers and phones from sending the messages they think we want to send, but on a positive note “…you’ll never be nored, bired, bored” when trying to get a message across, even though “I get accused on a public ER page by a paranoid food of being g a troll with multiple profiles.”  For the record, those are messages I have received, not sent.  Sometimes depending on the message I get to laughing hysterically at what has come across, or what I have sent.

For now, Have a Fun New GHT — which should have said Have a fun night!

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Filed under assumptions, communication, Family, friends, Life is a Melting Pot

Doing the Michigan Dance

Yes, this past couple weeks we have been going through the steps of what I am going to term the Michigan Dance.  What is it?  If you live here you should know, it is the back and forth, two steps forward, one step back, motion of our weather.

We have had a bitter, cold winter with plenty of snow.  Then 2-3 weeks ago the weather warmed up.  The sun was shinning, people started getting out and riding bikes, walking paths, cleaning yards and other spring activities.  Our grass has turned green and the trees and bushes have started to bud out.  Spring has arrived — or has it?

Weather - sunburn and frostbite in same weekA couple days ago the temperature dropped, winds picked up, and it was cold again.  Not freezing, but cold enough that some people went back to wearing winter coats.  This morning when I got up there was a skiff of snow on the ground.  Not massive proportions, and I assume by midday it will all be gone, but the point is, it is there.  We are on the one-step back motion of the Michigan Dance.

I am tired of winter, tired of the cold.  I want spring to hit us full-force and move into a heat-blasting summer.  I want to move this Michigan Dance from a slow moving waltz to a fast-paced polka and spin forward around the dance floor several times in a row.  Is that too much to ask?

What am I thinking….I live in Michigan.  Nothing is predictable, especially the weather.  Two steps forward, one step back.

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Filed under spring, summer, Weather

Learning to Live in a Language Based World

I am not a big fan of “Awareness” months, but I am going to make an exception.  I have a 9-year old grandson, Austin, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder.  When I was in college a few years back I was required to write a paper for an English and Culture class.   I chose to write about the difficulties people with Autism endure as they typically struggle with both social skills and communication.  Autism is a spectrum disorder, no two people are the same.  Each person is unique in which areas they are most challenged and to what degree.

Austin is doing well.  He is in a special needs class in second grade.  He is learning to read and has greatly expanded his ability to communicate and express needs since I wrote the paper.  What people need to understand is that although people with Autism have learning difficulties, they are intelligent people who are misunderstood and frequently have their abilities underestimated.  The trick is figuring out what needs to be done to communicate and get the message across to them.

I hope you will take the time to read the article I have posted below.  I would love to hear from those who deal with people who are autistic, people who themselves are autistic, or anyone who has read and learned about the struggles these people encounter in their every day lives.

Learning to Live
in a Language Based World

Imagine you need something but are unable to formulate the words to express your needs. How do you get someone’s attention? How do you communicate your wishes? This is the frustration a person with autism spectrum disorder deals with their entire life.

Cultures throughout the world are based on verbal communication and social interactions. A person with autism struggles to learn language, has difficulty holding a conversation, and lacks social skills. The inability to communicate can leave a person feeling lonely and isolated. An autistic person’s ability to live successfully in a language based world requires them to adjust to living outside their comfort zone. To help people with autism accomplish that goal, society needs to develop an understanding and compassion for the needs, feelings, frustrations and learning style of people with autism spectrum disorder.

As many as thirty percent (30%) of people with autism are unable to speak (Apps for Autism, 2011). Children with autism are found to have hyper-acute hearing that creates an inability to filter out and properly process ordinary everyday sounds. Buzzers, alarms, a dishwasher running, a lawn mower being used, and all the other miscellaneous sounds that the average brain filters out may sound as if they are on a super high volume and jumbled together to the autistic person.

The inability to properly process auditory input results in an inability to understand the meaning of words, an inability to express needs and wants, and a lack of social skills that leaves the autistic person feeling detached and unconnected to “normal” people (Notbohm, 2005). As Temple Grandin, who is autistic, said “There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to communicate” (Valentine, 2006, para. 11).

Ellen Notbohm, author of Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew, stated “The ability to communicate, whether through spoken language, pictures, signing/semaphore or assistive technology, is bedrock” (2005, pp. xvii-xviii). “Words are the essential building blocks of spoken communication…” (McGregor, 2008, para 2). A child who lacks social skills, including the ability to read body language and facial expressions, finds communicating and fitting into society very difficult. The autistic child often stands out in society as a social oddball (Notbohm, 2005).

Children with autism are considered social outcasts because they lack the ability to communicate verbally and display behaviors that help them cope within their environment. People make negative assumptions that a child with autism is unwilling to cooperate, temperamental, and lacking in intelligence. Autistic children are known for their “meltdowns”. A meltdown is an autistic child’s manner of communicating to the outside world that there is something wrong. The child can be hungry, thirsty, cold, tired, or any other range of things. The adult has to figure out what the trigger to the meltdown is because the child is unable to express their need. It is important to remember that behavior is a way of communicating, and that a child who lacks verbal skills is unable to tell you what is wrong (Notbohm, 2005).

As the grandmother of an autistic child I have witnessed meltdowns and how they can easily be remedied by analyzing what the trigger is. Meltdowns in public can be exceptionally frustrating when people who do not know the child feel free to make rude, insulting remarks about their behavior. When my grandson, Austin, was two years old I was trying to put him into his car seat and he was arching his back, crying and kicking. “All behavior is communication” and “all behavior happens for a reason” (Notbohm, 2005, pp. 21, 22).

Austin’s behavior was because he hadn’t said goodbye to grandpa, who had ridden to the park in a different vehicle. Austin’s behavior confused me; what upset me was a man parked beside us. As I lifted Austin out of the car during the meltdown the man said very clearly “what a spoiled brat.” Looking back I wish I had taken the time to express what I thought of his rude behavior and assuming comments about a child he did not know. The man’s behavior is best summed up by Temple Grandin, “Normal people have an incredible lack of empathy…they don’t have much empathy for the autistic kid who is screaming at the baseball game because he can’t stand the sensory overload. Or the autistic kid having a meltdown…I’m frustrated with the inability of normal people to have sensory empathy.” (Valentine, 2006, para. 24 ). A child who lacks the ability to communicate normally in a social situation needs understanding and assistance. They should not have to endure insults and rejection from adults.

It is important to create circumstances where the autistic child can practice social skills with success. “Social navigation is necessary at every turn in our lives: at home, at work, at school, in our travels about the community, in our shopping, recreation and worship.” (Notbohm, 2005, p. 71) It is important to understand that fitting into society socially requires a tremendous amount of effort from the person with autism. The autistic person must learn to cope with the demands of society while trying to understand what is expected of them and using what abilities they have to make those adjustments. (Notbohm, 2005).

In Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew the seventh item on the list is “Help me with social interactions” (Notbohm, 2005, p. xxviii). A child with autism may feel lonely and left out because they lack the social skills to enter a play situation or start a conversation. They may not be able to talk to the other children and are unable to read facial expressions, body language or emotions of others. It is easy to assume the child doesn’t want to participate in activities, but what they really need is guidance on how to join the fun.

The way to successfully teach a child with autism spectrum disorder is to focus on their positive abilities. The autistic child may lack the ability to process verbal information, but they are usually very good at paying attention and are visual learners (Gordon, 2007, para. 3). The sixth item listed in Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew is “Because Language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented. Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me.” This is followed by the seventh item, “Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do” (Notbohm, 2005, pp. xxvi, xxvii).

A child cannot learn and function well in an environment where they are made to feel that they are not good enough. Often peers, teachers, siblings, and relatives focus on what the child is not doing, rather than what the child’s strengths are (Notbohm, 2005). A computer can help an autistic person with both learning and social skills. The computer is not critical and has unlimited patience, allowing the child to repeat skills as needed until the task is mastered.

The Apple iPad and other tablet computers are offering special applications that allow people with autism to communicate. By using pictures or characters on the computer screen the autistic person is able to make selections and use the computer to “speak” on their behalf. The computer allows the autistic person to voice their thoughts and needs, helping them to function in society.

A 60 Minutes episode called Apps for Autism: Communicating on the iPad featured the utilization of computer applications for people with autism. The use of tablet computers was demonstrated by Joshua Hood, 27 years old, who was unable to communicate until he received the Apple iPad. Joshua is now able to go to a restaurant and use the picture apps on the iPad to order his own meal. Prior to receiving the iPad Joshua rarely looked at people, but the iPad has given him the ability to interact with others. His therapist, Tammy Taylor, said “He’s part of the community. I mean, communication is the essence of being human. And here he is, communicating fully now” (Apps for Autism, 2011).

The use of computer applications is allowing professionals to realize how intelligent people with autism are, people that were once considered to have below average intelligence. At the Beverly School in Toronto, Canada half the students are severely autistic. The impact of the iPad is demonstrated by its effect on the attention span and willingness of those children to socialize. Ten year old Nuno does not talk and was believed to have the intelligence of a toddler. An iPad vocabulary application was used to test Nuno. The school was amazed at Nuno’s vocabulary and learned that he has a love of classical music and opera (Apps for Autism, 2011).

Whether a person with autism is learning to communicate through the use of a computer or through traditional learning methods, it is important to understand the stages of their learning and the need to guide them in developing social skills. Speech and language deficiency are defining characteristics of autism spectrum disorder, but it is important to remember that each person is an individual, with their areas of difficulty and ability to learn unique to them. An awareness of whether the person is mindful of being spoken to, if they try to communicate in any form, and whether they are attempting to use speech is important. If they are talking, are they speaking naturally or are they echolalic? A child that is echolalic will repeat sounds or words that are spoken to them, which indicates that the child can perceive and articulate speech (Gordon, 2007, para. 5).

A child that is using echolalia to communicate can create the impression that they are understanding and using language in a comprehensive manner, when in reality they are not. Temple Grandin was teased as a teenager because when she talked she reused the same phrases, and kept talking without letting other people respond.

Some people with autism do not have a problem with the mechanics of language, but they do not understand the process of having a conversation (Hamilton, 2006). Echolalia are messages that are memorized from the world to compensate for language deficits. These can be groups of words they have heard people say, or phrases from TV shows or movies. The person with autism does not necessarily understand what they are saying, but they know that a specific set of words can be used to provide a reply, ask for something, protest, or deny requests (Notbohm, 2005). This was used by my grandson when he needed help. It started when Austin would need assistance on the computer, he would come up and rub a person’s hand or arm and say “sorry”. We would respond “what do you need?” and taught him to reply “help on the computer”. It wasn’t long before that memorized set of words was used for anything he needed help with, be it the computer, opening a door, or getting something from the refrigerator. “Help on the computer” was a set of words that got someone to come and give assistance.

Whether a person with autism is learning to speak, using a computer for communication, or exercising echolalia to converse, it is important to remember that “…having a means of functional communication, whatever it may be, is what’s truly essential, to any child, but even more so to the child with autism” (Notbohm, 2005, p. 42). It is also important to reward the autistic child’s efforts to communicate in a positive way. My daughter always asks Austin if he wants chicken nuggets, then she makes the decision on whether to get him just the nuggets or a happy meal. A few weeks ago she asked Austin if he wanted chicken nuggets and he said yes. When she pulled into the McDonald’s drive-thru from the backseat she heard “chicken nuggets, French fries, chocolate milk, trick-or-treat”. His statement was rewarded with a full happy meal, all the items he requested in the Halloween trick-or-treat bucket. Verbal interactions and positive results help the child learn not only the mechanics of speech, but also how to use them to function in society.

Understanding the way an autistic person processes information and the way they are best able to learn is imperative to helping them fit into their community. Whether the person is able to converse, speaks in echolalia, utilizes a computer application, or demonstrates coping behaviors, it is important to recognize and accept them as a growing, feeling, human being who is trying to adapt to the world around them. As Temple Grandin said, “normal people find it difficult to put themselves in an autistic person’s shoes and see the world from their perspective” (Valentine, 2006, para. 4). For a person with autism spectrum disorder to live successfully in a language based world, society must learn to recognize the needs, feelings and frustrations these people experience on a daily basis and make appropriate accommodations for them to function within their community.

References
*  Apps for Autism: Communicating on the iPad. (2011, October 23). 60 Minutes. New York, New York. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7385686n&tag=contentmain;contentBody

*  Gordon, B. (2007, April 2). Speech and Language Problems in Autism Pectrum Disorders. Retrieved from Kennedy Krieger Institute: http://www.iancommunity.org/cs/articles/speech_and_language_problems

*  Hamilton, J. (2006, July 9). Autism Reveals Social Roots of Language. Retrieved from NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5503688

*  McGregor, K. B. (2008, October 6). Learning Word Meanings. Retrieved from Kennedy Krieger Institute: http://ww.iancommunity.org/cs/articles/wordmeanings

*  Notbohm, E. (2005). Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew. Arlington, Texas: Future Horizons, Inc.

*  Valentine, V. a. (2006, July 9). Q&A: Temple Grandin on Autism & Language. Retrieved October 2011, from NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5488844

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Filed under assumptions, children, Coping, decisions, disabilities, Family, grandchildren

Back Amongst the Living

I am now back amongst the living, or at least trying to be.  My husband, Ron, was laughing as I asked how people cope with this on a regular basis.  The last time I dealt with this was in September 2010, and that was only for 48 hours, this was five days down, two days debatable, and I’m still not totally back.

I can blame the attorney I work for, he is the one that contaminated me with this awful cold/flu bug.  When I contacted him last week on Wednesday and told him I was at work, but only for a couple hours to get some things organized and then going home sick, he called me and said “The good news is, you’ll live.”  He then proceeded to tell me while I had it I would be miserable.  Nothing like a note of encouragement from the boss!

People like me who generally don’t get sick don’t do sick well, we don’t know how to cope.  Seriously, I don’t have time for this!  However, the world did not come to a screeching halt because I was not functioning in it, and I did make a few observations along the way.

  • Daytime TV has its advantages and disadvantages.  When you are likely going to be sleeping more than watching, channels that run marathons are great.  You can watch 15 minutes of Criminal Minds at 11 am, catch a few more minutes at 12:30, and then grab a great ending at 2:00.  Same characters, and the variety in the crime just adds a bit of interest to the show.
  • As soon as you get fully reclined and snuggled under your afghan the telephone will ring.
  • Despite all the lousy telemarketer messages you get on your answering machine, there are an even larger number of callers that don’t leave messages if you ignore the incoming call.
  • There are a lot of TV shows advertised that appear to be families fighting, both physically and verbally, with each other.  Do people really watch these shows?
  • When you are sick and have an upset stomach, cooking shows do nothing to spur hunger — watch to your heart’s content without any risk of calorie intake.
  • I can survive without consuming coffee for seven days — that is how long I did not even want coffee, a sure sign I was sick, I am a pot a day person.
  • Gatorade, although considered a good drink for restoring balance to your system, makes you thirsty and increases the need for water consumption 2-3 times over the normal.  Doesn’t  this just flush out all those good electrolytes it is supposed to be restoring?
  • Almost all of the game show hosts have changed since the last time I was watching daytime TV.  I miss Bob Barker and Monty Hall.
  • After a week of consuming practically nothing, the stomach shrinks and those simple little Weight Watcher Smart Ones meals that I once needed to supplement with fruit are now, on their own, almost too much for one meal.
  • There is nothing more depressing than to anticipate a huge weight loss based on a weeks worth of next to nothing consumption, only to step on the scale and see only a 4 lb. difference.

Despite all the vast knowledge I accumulated during my time of illness, and even though I have not yet fully recovered, since I have one of those horrid lingering coughs that sounds like I’m ready to keel over and die any minute, I am now back up and once again functioning in society.  I had my first cup of coffee this morning for the first time in seven days…a sure sign that I am on the way to a full recovery.

Here’s hoping I don’t get sick again for several years.  I don’t have time for this , and I seriously don’t know how people who get sick on a regular basis cope.  Ugghhh!

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Filed under Coping, Family, Illness

Chicken Coop Captive

Bundled up in insulated overalls and a winter jacket, Lucinda lifts the gallon size bucket.  The water sloshes back and forth as she trudges across the yard, head bent down against the bitter cold and wind.  The walls of the chicken coop provide little refuge from the cold as she pours water into containers for the chickens.

WHAMP!  The entire building shakes as the door to the coop slams shut, dropping the latch closed in the process.  Lucinda tries to open the door and realizes she is trapped.  Chicken coop doors latch from the outside, not the inside.

Lucinda peers out the window toward her house.  Andrew is inside watching the football game on TV.  Surely he will realize she is gone longer than usual and come looking for her….or will he?  It is a good game and he isn’t likely to leave his chair until it is over.  This could be a long wait, the game isn’t due to end for over an hour.  Chicken - Crazy Chicken Lady

Thankful she had at least put on warm clothes, Lucinda contemplates her options as a captive in a chicken coop.  There is the small hatch door that the chickens go in and out.  Maybe she could slip out of the coop that way.  It could be kind of tricky.  Should she go feet first or head first?  Slide out on her stomach or on her back?  So many decisions when planning an escape.

Of course the size of the hatch could prove a challenge.  What if she gets partway out and gets stuck?    How long would she have to remain there, wedged half in/half out of the coop before Andrew discovered her?  Would the two of them be able to free her?  Would they have to call and wait for a rescue team?

If a rescue team has to be called, would the local news pick it up on a scanner and arrive to capture the live story of the chicken coop captive.  Good grief, would she ever live such a news story down?  The stupidity of the human race is always great for human interest articles.  Maybe the hatch escape idea isn’t such a great one after all.  Maybe some good solid female bonding with a brood of chickens is the better option.

WHAMP!  A blast of arctic air somehow managed to dislodge the latch and blew the door back open.  FREEDOM!  Lucinda decided to make a break for it.  After all, the opportunity might be short lived.  The chickens were  quite hospitable during her short visit, but the idea of an extended stay was not on her list of things to do on a Sunday afternoon.

Closing the door firmly behind her as she enters the warmth of their home,  Lucinda looks at her husband, still relaxing in front of the TV.  Didn’t he realize she had been gone longer than normal?  How long would he have waited before coming to check on her?

Andrew contemplated Lucinda ‘s experience as a chicken coop captive before he responded “Oh, I would of figured out something was wrong when the chicken (for dinner) was done and you were not back inside.”

Chicken Coop - Miss Him Sometimes.Typical man, the brain goes to food and a growling stomach would have finally keyed him into the fact that his wife was missing in action.  Better not go out to tend the chickens immediately after consuming a meal, the wait for a rescue could take hours!

Safety Tips for Chicken Coop Care:
1.  Wear insulated outer wear to protect yourself from the elements.
2.  Carry a cell phone to call for assistance as needed.
3.  Go at a time when your husband may become hungry and realize you are missing.
4.  Make sure you tell your friends and family about any mishaps so they can later share your story with others.

This is based on a true story, names of the couple have been changed to protect their privacy. 

 

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Filed under backyard, birds, Family, farm

Why is there brake fluid under the kitchen sink?

I got up on Saturday morning with an idea on how I would spend the day.  I come downstairs and my husband, Ron, comments that the kitchen sink is not draining properly, the water is going down the garbage disposal side and backing up into the other side.  Definitely not a good sign.

Being the ever helpful person I ask if he has tried turning on the garbage disposal.  My answer is “this is what happens” and he hits the switch, creating a fountain affect on the side I am standing on.  Lovely — just what I want is a second shower with kitchen sink water.

Ron can fix most things, including plumbing issues.  The first step, of course, is to empty out the area under the kitchen sink.  Our sink is located in a corner, so the under sink area is deep and there is plenty of space behind the pipe area for things to get pushed.   Ron gets down on his hands and knees and starts handing me items from the great dungeon called the under sink area.

The stuff up front is mostly expected.  A box of kitchen garbage bags, a container that holds a few miscellaneous items such as sponges, ant traps, a kitchen brush we purchased and don’t like but can’t bring ourselves to throw away, and a container of brand new twist ties that, if we used them, would probably last us for the next 50 years.

We rarely do dishes by hand, so why does a home with only two people residing in it have two large bottles of dish detergent, each half full?  Can’t even combine them, they are by two different manufacturers and two different colors of liquid.  We also have two large bottles of Jet Dry, guess I can cross that off my shopping list.

I keep the cleaning supplies near the front and do use them regularly, but I have a better selection than I realized.  With what I have under the cupboard you would expect my kitchen to be sparkling and spotless.  Yep, not going to go there.  However the collection is impressive.  Windex, Bar Keepers Friend, Clorox Cleanup in both the spray bottle and the huge refill container, George Foreman Grill Cleaner, Soft Scrub, Kitchen Stove Top Cleaner, multi-surface cleaner, granite cleaner, and a bottle of ammonia  Why the ammonia was down there I don’t know and moved it to the utility cupboard.

Used often is a large tub of dishwasher detergent tablets, but why do we have three containers of dishwasher cleaner?  I didn’t even know they made such a thing.  Apparently my husband, who does the majority of grocery shopping, saw and purchased it, twice.  It is a bit disconcerting to realize that an appliance in which you put dishes to be cleaned with hot water would itself need a cleaner run through it, but apparently it does. cleaning - if you purchased before julia child's last episode

Then Ron pulls out a small bottle and says “why is there brake fluid under the kitchen sink?”  He’s asking me?  I don’t even know where to put windshield washer fluid or oil in my car.  Does he seriously think that bottle of brake fluid was placed there by me?  Of course if Ron didn’t put it there, and I certainly didn’t, then who?  Was it one of our kids, who have not lived at home for years?  Why put it under the kitchen sink?  Better yet, how old is it?  Obviously the kitchen sink dungeon has not been thoroughly dug out in a considerable amount of time.  But wait, there’s more.

Ever go to a festival and purchase the “homemade” old fashioned root beer that has no carbonation?  You can purchase it in a reusable glass bottle with a cork on top.  Then if you carry that bottle to a festival where that same vendor is set up, you can purchase your beverage at a reduced price for bringing along your own container.  Yep, we had purchased those beverages six different times and had the bottles to prove it.  Two large blue, two small blue and two medium size in brown.  Who thinks about taking a glass bottle with them wherever they go just in case it is needed?  The trash can was the happy recipient of those.  It also received the two empty wine bottles.  Those were nothing special, so why were they there?

Clean - never know what you haveIf we filled all the vases that are stored under our sink with flowers we would look like a flower shop ready to open for business.  Would you like a small display in a short, 4″ vase?   Something a bit taller, in say a 6″ variety?  How about a bud vase?  We could go a bit wider, a nice medium size bouquet to spruce up the room.   You need bigger?  Not a problem, we have the perfect large wide mouth vases for your choosing, available in a variety of patterns and tinted or clear, perfect for holding large bouquets of lilacs, sunflowers, or glads.   I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking, after all we have about four to choose from in each of the available sizes.

Ron tried to unclog the drain with a wire snake and hose because he couldn’t find the plumbing rooter, which is located somewhere in the garage or basement, two more areas of intense exploration.  While he was attempting the plumbing repair I worked on organizing the under sink findings for placement back below when he was done.  Unfortunately the clog was more severe than we anticipated and we ended up calling in a plumber to do the job.

The good news is that by 3:00 pm the drain was fully operational and the treasures of the sink dungeon had been placed back below in an organized fashion.   Hopefully I have no need to explore that wonderful storage area again any time soon, but at least I now know what is under there.  Gosh, some of those things may actually get used now that I know they exist!

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Filed under Cleaning, Discoveries, Kitchen, Life is a Melting Pot

In a Squirrel’s Mind

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2014.

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2014.

I was sitting at my desk this morning when I looked up to see a young squirrel hopping across my front yard and up onto a raised bed surrounding our tree.  He then perched on the wall for a moment, turning his head looking around before he scampered up the tree and onto a bottom limb,  Mr. Squirrel then sat on the limb, facing the road, watching traffic go by.

What was his reason for going to the tree and stopping first on the wall and then sitting on the branch?  What was the purpose of this observation?  Was he looking for someone, meaning another squirrel?  Was he contemplating the safety of venturing out and crossing the road?    Was he just enjoying the morning view, something to do for a moment?

After a few minutes he scampered back down the tree and without hesitation hopped off the raised flower bed, onto the lawn and ran back from the direction in which he had originally come.    What was his next destination?  Why was he going there?

We will never know what was going on in that squirrel’s mind.  What his purpose or goals were at the moment.  In our hectic, fast-paced world it is relaxing to contemplate for a moment what is going on in the mind of an animal that appears to take action that in some form or another had a purpose, we just don’t know what that purpose was.

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Filed under backyard, environmental, exploration, habit, Life is a Melting Pot, nature

Deeply Disturbed

What is going on in this country?  Why over the past 20 years has there been an increase in violence among young people?  Why does there seem to be an increase in racial profiling?  Why after fighting so long for equal rights are women now using sex to promote themselves and products?  I find it disturbing that we seem to have taken a giant step backwards in this country in many ways.Racism

If you look back 30-50 years youth were not gunning each other down.  While there may have been fights, young people were not going into schools armed with guns and killing fellow classmates and teachers.  We did not have the drive-by shootings and gang violence we have today.  You could walk into a McDonalds, shopping mall, and most importantly, a church or school and not have to be concerned about the possibility of a gunman coming in and opening fire.    Today no where is safe, even those locations designed for children.    Children are innocent, they do not see color, they are not violent, and yet they are growing up to be.  Their beliefs are shaped by the people around them, the adults they watch and learn from, and they are learning to be violent and racially discriminatory.Racism - no one is born hating another

What I find very disturbing is the number of incidents in which police officers act violently against citizens, especially those of a non-white race.  The officers seem unable to maintain control of a situation, there have been many shootings lately of unarmed persons, including teens.  Then Grand Juries refuse to indict those officers and this serves to fuel further anger and violent acts.  The fact that the majority of those incidents involve white officers and people of African American descent ads fuel to the fire.  There are other acts of violence based on race, the most recent being the fraternity in Oklahoma caught on video degrading those of black heritage.  Why all these years after Rosa Parks sat on a bus, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech, and numerous other acts to equalize the rights of blacks in this country are we experiencing so much racial violence?

Feminist - what it meansWe seem to have taken a turn backwards, we are no longer a country in which people are achieving equality.  In the 60’s and 70’s women battled for equal rights in the workforce, they changed the way they dressed to allow themselves to fit into a “mans world” and achieved great things.  Women can now obtain positions that were once considered exclusively for men — women now serve in congress, they work as attorneys, judges, doctors, police officers, airline pilots and serve in the military.    The accomplishments have allowed women to once again display their feminine side while maintaining power.  However it seems to have fallen overboard and we have gone from showing a feminine side to using sex to sell anything and everything on TV, in the radio, on the internet.    Why are women allowing themselves to be degraded in this way after so many fought against it?

Democracy by Abraham LincolnThe United States is a melting pot of cultures, beliefs, and religions.  It is a country developed on Christian beliefs, but willing to accept those of all different religions.  Its founding fathers were white, but established guidelines so people of all nationalities could immigrate legally and become citizens.   We have overcome sexual inequality.  We have taken great strides in overcoming racial inequality, but still have farther to go.  This country has accomplished great things, but is now on the decline.   What we have become is not a county that is accepting of other peoples and beliefs, but a county that is allowing itself to be destroyed by allowing those standards and beliefs to be eliminated under the guise of acceptance.   The morals, beliefs, and religion that this country was built on is what has held it together for centuries, but if those standards are not re-established this country will fail.

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Filed under decisions, environmental, friendship, Life Changing, reality, time

Finding Treasures

China Bowl 4The discovery of items that were beautiful, old, and interesting.  Four boxes of them.  Each box was labeled “Treasures.”  When we removed the top what we found were typewritten lists that not only named the items inside, it explained where they came from, and how that original owner was related or not related to us, and how the item came to be in our family.  The history of each item that had been carefully packed away years ago for us to discover.Coffee Pots

My sister and I discovered those boxes as we were going through things in our parents house, cleaning it out following the death of our father in December.  Our mother passed away almost two years ago and was very ill for over ten years.  She is the one that prepared those boxes, carefully wrapping each item, packing them into the boxes and then typing the lists on an old-fashioned typewriter.  So long they have sat tucked away, carefully stored for us to find someday

Honeymoon brochuresThe items are an interesting assortment, too many to list here.  I did take a few cell phone pictures of some of the “treasures”.  My grandmother’s wooden rolling pin and wooden board.  My grandfather’s pipe stand and his favorite pipe.  Beautiful china bowls.  A Stein from Germany.  Jigsaw puzzles with very thick pieces.  My father’s first camera  and his toy holster set from when he was a child.  My parents wedding cake top and some brochures, road map and placemats from their honeymoon.

Dads Holster SetThe discovery was a wonderful break in our cleaning out of their house.  Had we stumbled upon some of those items in the house we may not have realized their emotional value, their history within our family.  One of the best gifts we could ever have received.    I now know that there are items in my home I want to locate and pack in the same manner, carefully labeling the box and making sure that someday, when my husband and I are gone, our children can discover treasurers in our home and enjoy the  significance to their heritage.

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Filed under death, Family, genealogy, Life is a Melting Pot, parents

Eagle Shooting

Eagle in Flight.  Photo copyright Ron Grogan 2015

Eagle in Flight. Photo copyright Ron Grogan 2015

The cold weather moves in and with it come the Eagles.  This is the second year in a row the Blue Water area has had an abundance of American Bald Eagles and if you know where to look they can be seen along the St. Clair River from Port Huron to Algonac.   While I am at work during the day my husband, Ron, spends a good portion of his time on the hunt for Eagles and gets some great pictures.

Eagle on Ice,  Photo copyright Ron Grogan 2015

Eagle on Ice, Photo copyright Ron Grogan 2015

An article in the Port Huron Times Herald Newspaper recently featured Ron and his photography of eagles. My post this week is a “husband brag” about Ron and his photographs of the American Bald Eagle, as well as other birds.  Birds are not easy to photograph, but Ron accomplishes the task successfully on a regular basis.   If you click on the article and photographs they should enlarge for better viewing.   You can then hold down the control key and roll the wheel on your mouse to enlarge the article further for easier reading.  The photographs at the end of the page can be viewed in a larger format as a slideshow.

Ron and I are both photographers.  We have a Facebook Page for our photography and we each have our own Fine Art America accounts where our photographs are sold,  If you live in the Blue Water area you can also find our artwork available at Studio 1219 in Port Huron and in the Mercy Hospital gift shop.

See our photographs and other information on our company Facebook pageTimes Gone By Photography Quality Photographs and Photo Tips or visit us on Fine Art America.  Ron’s Photographs can be seen at Times Gone By Photography/Ronald Grogan and
Grace’s Photographs can be seen at Times Gone By Photography/Grace Grogan

Ron Grogan featured in article on Eagle Photography

Ron Grogan featured in article on Eagle Photography

Ron Grogan featured in newspaper article February 2015

Ron Grogan featured in newspaper article February 2015

I hope you will enjoy Ron’s photographs that are posted here and then visit our websites above.  I would love to hear your comments on the photographs and/or article.

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Filed under Life is a Melting Pot

WHEN DID STOVE TOP STUFFING OFFER A FREE MICROWAVE DISH?

Why do they have four complete sets of frying pans?  Look at all this new bake wear.  Why in the world would people who rarely ate tacos have six jars of taco sauce?

These are questions that went through the minds of my sister and I as we were cleaning out the kitchen of our parents a couple weeks ago.  The first of many trips I will be making since our father passed away in December and our mother about 19 months ago.  Obviously this is a task that is a lot of work but also good for laughs and memories.  They moved into the house in 1966 when my sister and I were young children, so we will be at this task for quite a while.

We have decided to do the distribution of property in an amicable arrangement.  If only one of us wants something it is theirs.  If both of us want the same item it goes into a group of items we will resolve later, probably by taking turns selecting from the group.  If neither of us wants something but one of our children (who are all adults) do, they get it.  We decided the kitchen and pantry would be our starting point.

Linda wanted a set of Corelle Casserole dishes.  Done.  Caroline needed a spaghetti cooker.  Done.  Carol got a complete set of cookware, looks brand new.  I took some new baking pans and a large Pyrex mix and pour.    What no one wanted we condensed into a couple cupboards for a garage sale later.  Now to tackle the food.

Stove Top Stuffing Mix with Microwave Dish.  How old could this be?

Stove Top Stuffing Mix with Microwave Dish. How old could this be?

What in the world were they thinking?  Did they do any clean outs of expired items?  Did they forget what they had purchased and buy more?  Questions we can only speculate on the answer of.    One unique find was a box of Microwave Stove-Top Stuffing Mix that included its own microwave pan.  No expiration date on the box.  Good Grief — how long ago was that purchased?

People that rarely made tacos had six jars of taco sauce.  Dad used BBQ sauce a log in his cooking, but approximately 16 bottles of the stuff seems excessive, and the list goes on.  Sadly, most of the items are expired and when the weather warms up will be hauled out and trashed

We did end up with a small collection of canned food that is still good.  My sister referred to this as my “If you get snowed in” collection because I travel from 2-1/2 hours away and stay at the house; she lives in the same town.  Nice to know that in a moment of need I have three cans of soup, some canned peaches and pears, and a few cans of wax beans.  I can only hope if it happens it is a small storm.  I may have to sustain myself on coffee and tea, of which we found an ample supply.

My Dad and a gun.  he was about 3 years old at the time.

My Dad and a gun. he was about 3 years old at the time.

Me around 1980.

Me around 1980.

My parents with my sister and I.  I'm the older daughter in the back.

My parents with my sister and I. I’m the older daughter in the back.

We did take a break by going through some old photos, both from our childhood and antique family pictures.  We both started snapping pictures of the pictures with our cell phones and sharing them on our individual Facebook pages.  Fun memories and a great way to end what was the first of many trips to come.

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Filed under children, death, decisions, Family, sisters