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What makes a weekend successful?

When you work 40 hours a week, the weekend is your time for everything – social activities, housework, projects, shopping, you pile it all in and attempt to get it done, frequently without success.

Last Thursday I created a to-do list for everything I want to get done by March 18th — that gives me two weekends and the evenings after work.  It is an extensive list, I used a sheet of notebook paper to make it out.  This being the end of the first weekend, I am already feeling either frustration or panic over whether or not I will get everything done.  That got me to thinking, what makes a weekend successful?  76602-there-arent-enough-days-in-the-weekend-quote-1

Friday after work I went to an opening of an art show exhibit at Studio 1219, an art studio I have belonged to for years.  I was there until 8 pm, viewing art and talking with several other artists I know.  I stopped for dinner on the way home.

Once home I cleaned out “junk” email, then shopped online for a new laptop computer.  Being the first time I have made a computer purchase on my own (that was always my husband’s department) I had no clue if what I was looking at was good for speed, memory, graphics, etc.    Luckily a friend had recently ordered a laptop so I pulled up the unit they purchased and compared their information to mine.  Feeling confident my selection was good I placed the order — laptop computer, laptop sleeve/case and external mouse.    I went to bed at 3 am….so much for weekend rest!

Saturday I started a major project — cleaning out my deceased husband’s office.  He had let it pile up the last couple years he was alive and I was literally stepping over and around stacks on the floor whenever I had to go in there.  I pulled a considerable amount of stuff out into the upper landing and found the floor.  Then I got a step stool and hauled everything out of the closet to see what was there.  I spent quite a bit of time going through things, setting some aside as “keep” or “unsure” and a lot of items went into boxes marked “sell.”  Boxes marked for sale I began stacking into the back of the closet.  I still have a lot of stuff on the landing to go through, put away, or temporarily store somewhere during the cleaning process (I currently have a bathroom blocked).   I still have more on the floor in the office to sort, not to mention on shelves and in cabinets, but I have made a decent dent and can actually walk into the room now.

best_is_all_that_matters_1438597959Sunday morning I did a few household chores and worked on my computer.  I had to prepare an Agenda for a meeting and email it out, preview a CD for a meeting later this week to make sure it ran on the laptop okay, plus a few other minor projects.  I then headed out the door for a 2:00 pm lunch event with the St. Clair County Eagle Watcher’s, a photography group I belong to.   This year’s event included a showing of five birds of prey.  Camera’s were clicking as each bird was displayed and talked about.   By 4:30 I was on the road and headed to purchase groceries.

I arrived home around 7:00 pm, unloaded and put away groceries, then chatted on the phone for about 30 minutes with a friend.  I sorted about four days worth of accumulated mail, hand-wrote a draft to a column for a newspaper due this week, then drafted out this blog, which I will likely review and post Monday morning.

There are still a lot of things left on my list to do, way more than I have crossed out.   Now the question is, even though I haven’t completed my list, was my weekend successful?  I did attend two social events, spent the majority of one day working on a large cleaning/sorting project, completed a few other tasks, went grocery shopping, plus drafted a column and this blog,

While it is easy to look at the number of things still on my to-do list and get frustrated at what is left to do, I think I have to log the weekend as a success.

How was your weekend?  Was it a success?  What did you do?  Was it filled with fun, work, or a combination?

 

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Filed under Activities, Art Shows, Cleaning, communication, decisions, events, freindship, friends, friendship, home, Life is a Melting Pot, lunch, mind, Photography, time, work, Writing

Human Trafficking – closer to home than you think

Often when we hear news about something that is tragic we turn the other cheek, for those horrible things often happen in areas that are not near us or are removed enough that we feel we are safe.  What happens when you find out that you and/or your loved ones may not be safe?  Your sense of well-being is disturbed.

This is what happened when I found out about human trafficking in Michigan.  I feel safe in the area where I live and was shocked to find out that human trafficking is a very real concern for this area due to our close proximity to the border.  We always think something may happen to someone else, but not us.  Horrible things happen in other countries, but not ours…at least that is what we want to believe.

I was shocked to learn that Michigan is one of the top spots in the United States for human trafficking.  What was even more surprising was to learn that Michigan ranks no. 2 in the country for human trafficking in the sex trade. No. 1 is Nevada. Two of the things that make Michigan a primary spot is our close proximity to Canada and our waterways. They help make the exploitation of vulnerable persons in this state a lucrative business.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Force, fraud, and coercion to control are used to elicit commercial sexual acts, labor or service. Sex is conducted through brothels, escort services, fake massage businesses, and strip clubs. Labor is used in domestic work, small businesses, large farms and factories.

Human trafficking takes place in all fifty states and Washington DC. It is a highly lucrative trade. There are high profits and it is low risk. It is one of the most profitable criminal industries worldwide. As of June 30, 2015 there were 2,084 cases of sex trafficking nationally, and an estimated 1.5 million total victims of human trafficking in North America.  The going rate for humans on the global market is $90.00. Humans are sold and re-sold, yielding a nice profit for those in the business.

Labor trafficking is found in agriculture, manufacturing and construction jobs. Victims work in fields, factories, are denied their rightful earnings and live and/or work in deplorable conditions. Sex trafficking is found at Michigan truck stops, hotels and special events.  Victims are offered as sex toys at temporary brothels, sporting events, conventions, and large gatherings.

Teens and runaways are especially vulnerable. They are often enticed by promises of love, affection, and gifts. Guerilla tactics are also used, meaning violence, threats, and consequences if they do not comply with orders.   We must protect our youth from becoming victims of this crime. Educate them on the risks. Make sure they are aware of the tactics used to lure them in. This is a very real crime taking place in our own backyard. We need to take control and eliminate the risk to save our youth.

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week and can take calls in over 200 languages. They can be reached at 888-373-7888 or traffickingresourcecenter.org.

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Filed under children, communication, decisions, Life is a Melting Pot, Michigan, mind, parents

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

What Makes a Volunteer?

What is it that causes some people to volunteer repeatedly?  They are active in everything, always jump in to lend a helping hand, and juggle several volunteer positions, full time jobs, and other obligations.

Why is it some people never volunteer?  They will joint an organization, but never go beyond the membership stage.  Even when the organization is in desperate need of assistance, they refuse to lend a helping hand.

I have been a volunteer in a variety of organizations over the past 30+ years.  If you belong to several organizations you find that it is always the same people that volunteer, always picking up the slack while others sit idly by.  What is it that causes this difference in people’s willingness to give.  Why is it some people can juggle huge loads and always take on something else, while others are overwhelmed with one or two things?

This has been on my mind for several reasons.  I belong to the St. Clair County Family History Group.  A few years ago our treasurer passed away unexpectedly, and no one was willing to step up and fill that persons shoes.  After a year one person said she would do it — the only reason she hadn’t volunteered before is because that is the type of work she does for a living, she held other committee positions, and was hoping someone would step up to the plate and take the position.  No one did, so Sue stepped in and has done a phenomenal job for years.  Sue made an announcement in May 2014 that she and her husband were planning to retire and move to Michigan’s U.P. within 1-2 years and that she would no longer be able to handle the position of treasurer.  She announced early so that if someone wanted to take over and have her handy to answer any questions and walk them through the steps while she was still in the area, that would make the transition easy.  No one volunteered.  She has now submitted her “formal” written resignation to the president.  I am wondering, actually doubtful, if anyone will volunteer.Volunteer - Make  a Life by What we Give

Now you may wonder why I don’t take the position.  The reason, I already hold a board position as Vice President, plus I am Newsletter Editor for the club.  I also try to manage the website, a position that was emptied and no one took over.   I am not good with the website and have been asking for about four years for someone to take it over, but no one has.  I announced a year ago that I was willing to hand over the VP position, which only requires you to run the meeting in the event the President is absent, which has never happened in the past 11 years I have been a member, and once a year you put together the Annual Report – a booklet of all the committee chairs annual reports.  No one volunteered and so I continued in that position.   In the same club we have another member who is moving out of state and has announced that her board position and committee chair position will be vacant.     That means we now have two board positions that need to be filled and two committee chair positions that need to be filled immediately.   I have my doubts that there will be anyone who steps up to the plate and takes on the openings, because we have other committee positions that have been vacant for years.

I am also a member of the Blue Water Shutterbug Club and have held various positions over the years, the most recent was as Member at Large — a board position that is relatively easy to have.  The Vice President of that club is moving out of State and had announced that his position would be vacant and someone would need to take over.  Every month before the meeting begins the VP walks around and solicits three members who have had the training to serve as part of a 3-judge panel for the photo competition that month.  The person also has a short 30-60 minute commitment once a week to pre-judge the photos submitted, making sure they are suitable for the categories they have been submitted into.  A relatively easy position with low commitment.  I was not going to be at the meeting in which the elections were taking place, but let the leaving person know that in the event no one volunteered I would take over.  Need I mention that I am now Vice President of the BW Shutterbugs?

I have spent most of my adult life volunteering in various organizations.  When my kids were young I was active in the PTO, serving as secretary for 6-7 years, chairing a committee that gathered and added grocery receipts from a particular store to raise money for the school, chaired a prize committee for the annual carnival, chaperoned field trips and volunteered in the classroom from time to time, all while holding down a full-time job.  I also was co-leader of the girl scouts, leader of the Tiger Cubs, secretary for a collectible club, and in addition to my full-time office position sold Tupperware.  My kids were involved in karate, scouting, AWANA and dance. Oh, I almost forgot, I volunteered in the nursery at the church we were attending.  If I could do that with two young children at home, why can’t people who are retired and have no young children at home dedicate some of their time to an organization?

This past weekend I attended a workshop where the purpose was to handcraft items that will be placed in gift boxes.  Those boxes are donated to hospitals to be presented to parents who give birth to stillborn babies or whose babies die shortly after birth.  They include gowns for the baby to be buried in, tiny stuffed animals, blankets, hats, etc.   A very important and much needed item so I dedicated my Saturday, from noon to 9 pm to help out.  While I was at the workshop someone asked me what I do in my free time.  I guess when you put it all in a list, it overwhelms some people.

What do I do?  I am Vice President and Newsletter Editor of the St. Clair County Family History Group, Vice President of the Blue Water Shutterbug Club, I write a genealogy column for The Lakeshore Guardian, I am an opinion columnist for The Times Herald, I have a weekly blog, I am writing a book about our families dealings with DHS and trying to adopt our granddaughters, my husband and I have a photography business, Times Gone By Photography and we both have photos in a local art gallery, for sale in a local hospital, for sale at a couple local stores and we both have websites on Fine Art America, plus a business Facebook page, Times Gone By Photography.    In addition to that I work full time as a paralegal, and my hobbies include scrapbooking, reading, photography, and genealogy.

When people say I should relax, eliminate some of those items, I respond “Why?”   If you don’t have a wide range of interests and activities life becomes boring.  I don’t want to reach my old age and have nothing to look back on, regrets that I didn’t do things, or be bored in retirement because I have no hobbies or interests to keep me busy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can do the couch potato in front of the TV just like everyone else.  Then I realize that the things I want to do are sliding away and I get busy again.  My “chill time” gets me re-energized for the next round of activity.

What makes a volunteer?  Why are some people willing to plunge right in wherever needed and others always spend their time on the sidelines, observing but never fully participating?

Are you a volunteer or an observer?  What are your reasons for the position you take on volunteering?

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Filed under Activities, events, friendship, hobbies, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, mind, time, work

Pinback Paradise

When someone suggested I start a blog I found it a bit of a daunting challenge.  That was mainly due to my misconception of what a blog required.  When I realized that I don’t have to post on a daily basis and that I don’t have to stick with just one narrow topic I knew I was up to the challenge.  Now all I had to do was pick a title for the blog.  I wanted my title to fit my life, and because my Life Is Like A Camera I needed something to fit that description and so Life is a Melting Pot was born.

Life is Like a Camera.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Life is Like a Camera. Photo by Grace Grogan

I can’t believe it has been 10 months and 50 posts since it all began.  I have written about fun topics, emotional issues, vacations, and life in general.  Hopefully you have all gotten to know me a little better over the past few months.

When it comes to my life, It All Began in the Cherry Capitol of the World, but Yesterday’s Bar Pick-up tells the story of how I met my husband.  We have enjoyed many activities over the years, vacations, having kids, boating, jet skis, mopeds, and motorcycles, accidents and cancer.   It’s been 33 years, well sort of 34 takes a look back at our marriage and Life Altering Impact after a car ran a stop sign and broadsided me when I was on my motorcycle.

As I was completing high school I did not follow my true career interest, Why Didn’t I do It?  Instead I became a secretary, which caused me to reflect on the Evolution of a Clerical Worker.  Now I wonder Who Am I? as I take on the roles of paralegal, writer and photographer.  Of course everyone has many aspects to their personality, and that is why I love Songs About Me and found a Blog Bonus – A Perfect Quote that I shared with everyone, even though I soon found myself Caught in a Tornado

Patrick and his girls - Kiley, Katlyn, Kae-Lee

Patrick and his girls – Kiley, Katlyn, Kae-Lee

With The Power of Emotion I dealth with the loss of one of our granddaughters, Kae-Lee Joy Grogan, who we were trying to adopt but instead was awarded to her foster care parents for adoption.  I dug a little deeper into that story when I talked about Attempted Adoption:  An Emotional Whirlwind.    That story has yet to end.

In the meantime life moves on, and let’s face it You are a Guaranteed Winner when you experience the Backyard Exploration of a 3-Year Old and enjoy a Thanksgiving that includes Tossed Turkey and Dog Food.    Let’s Get Prepped for education because although we all have a Haunted Past we can enjoy a bit of nostalgia because Everyone Loves a Letter.  Modern technology makes us realize the benefits of  Letter v. Email and how with all our modern conveniences we should not be Running Out of Time. 

Who's out there?  Photo by Grace Grogan

Who’s out there? Photo by Grace Grogan

We should all Preserve the Memories of our lives because Looking Out My Front Door at snow on leaves that have not changed color makes you realize the the Wild Weather Past and Present is not something new, but something you may want to remember.  After all, Putting a Spin on Things can help you take an artistic, creative look at what might at first glance appear to be Delightfully Drab.   That is why I enjoy participating in the World Wide Photo Walk and a passion of mine is strolling through old burial grounds doing Cemetery Shooting.    It is important to enjoy the beauty around us everywhere, keep it beautiful so we never again have The Crying Indian. 

Reflections in Nature - Photo by Grace Grogan

Reflections in Nature – Photo by Grace Grogan

Life is never dull in My Crazy Week where I have been known to wonder Where Have All the Spiders Gone then dissapointed to find out They’re Back after which I felt the need to enjoy the amusement of a 3-year old and 8-year old saying goodbye to them in Blog Bonus-SpidersHowever those creatures are not the only ones to enhance our property, after all, we have Master Bath Guests.

I’m not what I would call a political person, but wondered if my thoughts about undocumented children being brought into this country were Cold Hearted and Cruel or Realistic.  I know that first impressions of people are not always accurate and discussed Impressions v. Reality while not hesitating to Toot My Own Horn about a column I had published on problems with the foster care system.

As I traveled this summer I found that my decision to finally invest in a smart phone challenging but in the end realized that I’m Hooked when it allowed me to take movies and post pictures instantly during our vacation.  I love a Blue Water Summer  but have to admit that Vacation Planning is something I enjoy doing and can lead to a wide range of adventures and learniing how things can be the Same but Different, including a weekend on an Uninhabited and Unconnected Island or a spring day on the Magee Marsh Bird Trail. 

Scared the heck out of me as I was zoomed in to take a photograph when he started straight at me.  Photograph by Grace Grogan

Scared the heck out of me as I was zoomed in to take a photograph when he started straight at me. Photograph by Grace Grogan

As the year wound down we enjoyed New Life with the birth of our newest granddaughter, Alexandria Louise, enjoyed a Merry Christmas and ended the year by Kicking 2014 Goodbye as we started the new year with Slippery Surgical Stress and are now looking forward to Good Things in 2015.

With that we end this Pingback Paradise reflection of my first 50 posts to this blog.  I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse back, maybe linked into some of my old posts and enjoyed a read you may have missed during the past 10 months.

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Filed under career, decisions, Family, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, Photography, travel

Impression v. Reality

We all have an impression in our mind of what certain people should look like or behave like. Impressions that are imbedded in our minds from past experiences, misconceptions or any other wide range of factors. When we meet someone who does not meet the criteria our mind has set forth the reality is quite shocking. Chances are everyone who is reading this post has either been the subject of or subjected someone else to impressions that do not match reality.

Photo found on the internet that depicts the writer's impression of "grandma"

Photo found on the internet that depicts the writer’s impression of “grandma”

When I think of the term “grandmother” I picture my own grandmothers, grey haired ladies who did their hair with pin curls, wore full length aprons, never worked, never drove a car, and were great cooks.  That is the image that always comes to mind for grandmother, but I and numerous friends are the living reality that that is not the case now.  Modern day grandmothers work full time, drive cars, travel, are involved in activities, and although some of us may be great cooks we do not wear aprons.   So why can’t I shake the image in my mind of what a grandmother should look like?   Because that is what my grandmothers looked like and it is most likely what most grandmothers looked like in that era, but it is no longer the reality.

Motorcycle Gear - a photo of my friend Vicki dressed to ride.  Photo obtained from her Facebook page.

Motorcycle Gear – a photo of my friend Vicki dressed to ride. Photo obtained from her Facebook page.

My husband and I participating in a poker run.

My husband and I participating in a poker run.

What does a biker look like?  Back when I was in physical therapy following my motorcycle accident, one of the other patients asked what happened to me and when I told her she responded “You don’t look like a biker.”     She thought that people who rode motorcycles were always dressed in their leather vests, coats and biker boots.  I explained to her that people who ride motorcycles only dress that way when they are riding, but they are ordinary people who hold a variety of jobs, doctors, lawyers, salesmen, etc. and they wear normal, everyday clothing suitable to their profession.   When I was riding I did encounter people who treated me differently when I was dressed in my motorcycle gear, to the extent that I would say some were nervous.    What was funny was had I approached them without the leather vest or jacket they would likely have treated me the same as they were others.  Regardless of my clothing I was the same person.  People allow their minds to cloud reality and the impression they have set in their minds can cause them to prejudge.

handicap parkingI recently read a person’s letter to the editor in a newspaper in which the writer was commenting on a person who entered the McDonald’s he was at and voiced an objection about a non-handicap marked vehicle being parked in a handicap spot.  The writer was the person who had parked in that spot, did not have the state-mandated handicap tag but was on crutches and parked there.  In referencing the person that had objected to the spot being taken, the writer stated he “seemed to have nothing wrong with him other than being a bit overweight.”    What classifies a person as being handicapped?  They do not have to have an obvious physical disability that stands out and screams “I am handicapped.”  Persons who have obtained handicap markings for their vehicles have to obtain a doctor’s note specifying why they need handicap designation and then that document goes to the Secretary of State to obtain the appropriate tag for the vehicle.   Most people who do not know me do not realize that I have been in an accident and have a handicap parking designation on my vehicle.  I worked very hard to not have a limp after my accident, so when I walk into a building people do not realize that under my slacks I am wearing a compression sock and either a leather boot that supports my ankle or an ankle brace and that my ankle almost always has some level of swelling.    I have mastered the technique of getting in and out of my car so that people do not realize that to exit my vehicle I have to be able to open my car door all the way to put both feet firmly on the ground before standing up or that to get back into the vehicle I have to open the door all the way to get my left leg in a specific position to sit down.    My disabilities are for the most part not detected by the general viewer.  Therefore the impression of what a handicapped person is and whether or not they should be using a designated handicap parking tab and the reality of what may qualify a person for such a designation can be very different.

A wedding ceremony.  Photo by Grace Grogan

A wedding ceremony. Photo by Grace Grogan

I recently photographed a wedding in which I was shocked when I realized who the minister/pastor  was.  My impression of a clergyman is someone who is conservative, soft spoken, and always uses a traditional version of the bible.  Wrong!  The pastor/minister that conducted the ceremony was a very nice person, but did not fit my mind’s impression at all.    He was tattooed, had some piercings and used an electronic pad instead of a traditional bible.   I was very surprised when I realized he was the person officiating the ceremony and not a guest.   Had I met him on the street I would never believed he was a minister/pastor.  The combination of the handicap posting and my surprise at the minister/pastor’s appearance at the wedding is what led to the creation of this post.

Impression v. Reality can be a fun experience if you accept that what you mind thinks is correct may not be accurate.  The experience of learning how the mind plays tricks on you can be very enlightening.   If you have experienced the surprise of Impression v. Reality please share you experience here.

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Filed under assumptions, decisions, handicapp, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, mind, reality

Its been 33 years, well sort of 34

Ron and I shortly after we first met, 1980

Ron and I shortly after we first met, 1980

When do you start counting?  My husband and I celebrate our 33rd Wedding Anniversary today.  We were married September 12, 1981, but is that when you start counting your years, or should we include the time from when we met on May 9, 1980?  I suppose you officially count from the wedding, but we still have the memories from the beginning.

I wasn't a cook, but Ron was, and for our wedding he gave me the book "How to Boil Water" that he purchased at a garage sale.

I wasn’t a cook, but Ron was, and for our wedding he gave me the book “How to Boil Water” that he purchased at a garage sale.

In 33 years we have certainly experienced a lot — lots of fun, lots of ups, and of course some downs.  Life is rather like a roller coaster, chugging along in those climbs to the top, then the thrilling ride as you top the hill, a fast speed race to the bottom, and then you whip around a curve and the next hill approaches.

When I met Ron he was only a couple weeks into his divorce, which was a nasty one.  His ex-wife disappeared with their daughter (an infant) and we spent months locating her and then years trying to get visitation, including a full-blown custody trial.  Over the years we have had periodic ventures in court with a son that seemed to find trouble and/or get into trouble on a regular basis and is currently serving time in prison for home invasion.    Our daughter’s husband committed first degree child abuse against our son’s daughter, Kiley, when she was only 7 months old.  Nate, our son-in-law at the time,  went to prison and my daughter divorced him, but CPS became involved with both families and the rest is a horrendous story that is the subject of a book I am writing.

We have enjoyed many fun vacations over the years.  My first trip to Niagara Falls was in the  winter when it was under ice, and that was where we also  honeymooned.   Niagara Falls, Canada is one of my favorite cities and we used to travel there frequently for weekend trips.  The summer before our marriage Ron and I did a road trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania and down the Blue Ridge Parkway, where Ron was climbing on rocks to take pictures and sprained his left ankle.  His car was a stick, so I then did the majority of the driving, except when I couldn’t see coming down the mountain in the fog and he took over.  He was driving faster than I could see, which made me nervous.  That night I had repeated nightmares that we plunged off a mountain cliff, and each time the car started to fall I woke up, got up to use the bathroom and rammed my head into the wall mounted TV that stuck out just before the bathroom door.  Ron was exhausted and slept like a log and the next morning he commented that I had never arisen to use the bathroom all night!

Ron and Grace - Art Hop CroppedOver the years we took many family vacations, including a few trips to Florida where we once spent eight days at Disney and almost missed our flight home due to a thunderstorm on the final day that delayed out ability to exit the Magic Kingdom as quickly as we wanted.  Nothing like having the stewardess come running down the hall at you to assist with your carry-on luggage and then the doors slamming at your back as soon as you step onto the plane.  We also did trips to Universal Studios, Daytona, and a 2-night cruise to the Bahamas where we swam with dolphins.

With two kids who love amusement park rides we took numerous trips to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio over the years.  I’ll never forget Patrick’s first ride on the Blue Streak.  He was just of qualifying height to ride and as we topped the first run of hills and were rounding the curve at the top in preparation for the next run I realized he had slid way down in seat.  I quickly said “sit up” and as soon as Patrick pulled him self back up fully into the seat I stuck my hand down on the seat between his legs to act as a brace and we made the next run.

We attended the International Collectible Show near Chicago, Illinois for several years and did road trips that included stops at Indianapolis Speedway, St. Louis Arch, Hannibal, Missouri (home of Mark Twain), and visits to the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage Missouri.    We flew to Houston, Texas for a week long vacation one year enjoying many sights there.  Another road trip took us to Hershey, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, New York, and Niagara Falls where we enjoyed a helicopter ride over the falls.  Most vacations included a few “regular” things including an amusement park, playing putt-putt, visiting an historical home, and when available visiting a cave.   We have done America’s only cave where they drive you all the way through by tram in Springfield Missouri, the only cave where they take you through by boat in Pennsylvania, and the Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal that was featured in the books Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.  Mark Twain actually played in that cave as a child and the tour guide explained to us the procedure for making sure all the children were back out of the cave each night.  2008 - Stephanie Burnham and Justin Fickles wedding

Ron and I also took a few trips without the kids over the years.  We spent a week in Hawaii around 1990, we spent a week in San Francisco in 2005, and one year Ron drove to Florida to see his daughter, Patricia, from his first marriage graduate high school while I drove to New York to see our niece graduate from West Point.   We have taken road trips up the east coast and west coast of Michigan to photograph light houses, and this summer spent a week in the upper peninsula of Michigan with the main focus being to photograph waterfalls.  NOvember 2008

I almost forgot to mention the “toys” of which we have had a few over the years, beginning with a Laser sail boat when we were first married.  This is a small sail boat in which you literally hang off the side and your butt most likely gets wet dangling in the water.  Ron’s thing, definitely not mine!  When Caroline was about 2 years old we purchased a 19-foot Baja boat, a bow rider which I loved.  I drove the boat and pulled Ron on skis.  We spent a lot of time on that boat for several years, and then as the kids got older we took it out less and less and eventually sold it.  We purchased a dirt bike for the kids to ride when Patrick was about 4 years old, Caroline 7.  We then got a moped, and when that one got totaled we purchased another.  We bought a set of jet skis and spent quite a bit of time using those.  The kids were older then, and they would frequently drop a car off to me and pick up my truck so they could tow the jet skis to the dock and take them out.  Then Ron and I got motorcycles, he got his in 2004, I got mine in 2005.  I was the motorcycle lover, frequently riding 35 miles one-way to work, 50 miles one-way to college, and loved taking rides to relax in the evenings.  On the weekends we would ride to activities/events we were attending, and also participated in poker runs.  We spent a lot of time out riding until one day on the way home from an event a car ran the stop signs and broadsided me, bringing our days of riding to an end.  I still miss the feel of the wind in my face and how relaxing it is to ride.  Ron spent over a year taking care of the house and me as I went through recovery, and then we purchased our latest “toy,”  a 35-foot motor home.

Photo with our Son, Patrick and Daughter, Caroline, at her wedding.

Photo with our Son, Patrick and Daughter, Caroline, at her wedding.

I have only lightly touched on the ups and downs we have encountered over the years.  We have deaIt with our granddaughter being severely and permanently brain damaged while under the care of who was, at the time, our son-in-law.  We have experienced the loss of a grandson born premature who died shortly after his birth.  We have no contact with one of our granddaughters whose mother has not always been cooperative about allowing our son parenting time, and the loss of two granddaughters at the hands of CPS/DHS workers who withheld contact, lied to the court, a guardian ad litem who lied to the court, and a judge who rather than seek the truth and require them to substantiate their claims ruled against us.  The youngest granddaughter, Kae-Lee, has already been adopted by her foster care parents even though we wanted to adopt and raise the two sisters together.  The judge has refused to allow us the visits that the director of the Michigan Children’s Institute said he needed to finalize his decision on adoption of the older granddaughter, Kiley, who had suffered severe brain trauma, leaving her status in limbo.

So now here we are after 33 years of marriage. We have encountered numerous bumps, mountains and valleys and will likely continue to do so as time passes on.  We are now empty nesters, both photographers, and enjoy travel when time permits.  So whether we count it as 33 years from marriage or 34 years from meeting, it has been a lot of fun and good times.  Here’s looking forward to another 33.

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Filed under anniversary, Family, marriage, travel

Letter v. Email

Letter v. Email

I recently had a blog on letter writing, Everyone Loves a Letter, and when I saw this joke I thought it was appropriate and wanted to share. Call this a Blog Bonus!

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May 24, 2014 · 10:58 am