Puzzling to two and sometimes to three too!

March 1, 2013

My sister ML came for a visit recently.  She was here just two full days, but we made the most of our time … doing “important” things.  Of course we ate, a favorite activity in our family, but for entertainment we alternated from playing our family’s favorite dice game, Yahtzee, to working a jigsaw puzzle.

ML works lots of jigsaw puzzles, so she is much more organized about it than amateurs like me.

She suggested we sort the pieces by similar colors plus a pile for the edge pieces.


When we were done sorting, I thought the pieces looked like a mosaic.  But when I suggested that since we had already achieved such a “work of art”, why spoil this look by actually assembling them!!, ML thought I was joking, so we started working the puzzle …


You can see a man’s hand on the left.  That’s because even though Hubby swore off jigsaw puzzles after we had what turned into a jigsaw puzzle marathon a few years ago, he couldn’t resist putting a piece in occasionally as he would walk past.

As hard as ML and I worked for those two days and even for an hour or so the morning of the third day, before she left, we still didn’t get it finished.  When I went to bed that night I had decided to finish it the next day.

What a surprise when I got up in the morning and found this …


Do you see the two little pieces, upper left?


What a surprise that the puzzle was finished except for two little pieces.  I laughed to myself because I knew the only other person in the house had finished the puzzle … almost.  I “finished” the puzzle and looked forward to hearing why Hubby had avoided being the one to finish the puzzle.

When Hubby got up and looked at the puzzle, he said he was glad I had finished it and reminded me that he doesn’t really like doing jigsaws.

He may not like them, but I think Hubby would have to agree that jigsaw puzzles are like popcorn — it’s hard to eat (popcorn) or place (puzzle pieces) just one!

ML and I had a wonderful couple of days together.  Hubby pretty much stayed out of our way and did his own thing … until of course, it came to popcorn or jigsaws.  Those he has trouble resisting.

A week like no other …

October 7, 2012

My two sisters and my brother came for a visit a couple weeks ago.  For five days we visited, laughed, ate and played Yahtzee.

Betty is 82 and Martha is 79.  Maybe I’m biased, but I think they look wonderful for their age!

Hubby took a picture of the four of us right after Jimmy got off his plane  …

and a few days later, he took some at home …

but then he told us to look at each other so we would looked more “connected” — and looking at each other made us laugh.  So it did make for a good picture — smart Hubby!

We had a great time.  If you have siblings who are far flung, I definitely recommend a reunion like this.  It was a wonderful experience.

Betty, Jean, Me, Martha and Jimmy — Easter, 1948

The only thing that would have made it better is if our sister Jean, who passed away a few years ago, could have been there too. But she was there in our hearts and in many of our memories —  many of her were about her making us laugh.

Jean and The Hand-Me-Down Suit

November 26, 2011

I had three older sisters to idolize, but they were significantly older (teenagers when I was born).  Because of that age difference I really never got to be one of the crowd — just the little sister they all babysat for and, well, babied.

Because of our age differences, I was always in a different phase of life than them.  So when I was a young stay-at-home mom with very small children, they were parents of almost adult children and back out in the working world.

My uniform during that time of my life was a sweatshirt and jeans with my hair pulled back in a ponytail (and no make-up).  Beautiful clothes were just not in the cards right then — things our children needed and groceries and household items took priority.

But one time when my second sister, Jean (who was a successful business woman) was visiting, she gave me a beautiful suit that she was tired of (or just saw the sparkle in my eyes when I looked at it).

That suit was probably one of the most impractical clothing items I have ever owned.  It looked great on Jean, but that was when it was accompanied by her great hair-do, perfect make-up and spike heels (suits and spikes were her work uniform).

Being a SAH mom, I didn’t really have a need for such a beautiful suit, in fact, I honestly don’t remember ever wearing the hand-me-down suit.  But I got much enjoyment out of it anyway, just seeing it hanging in the closet, next to my sweats.

The hand-me-down suit was an impractical, never-used, but oh so enjoyed gift from an older sister to her kid sister.

By the way, another gift from Jean comes to mind.  Also during my SAH Mom days, Hubby and I had moved into a little bigger, nicer house and were suffering the to-be-expected financial pains of a larger payment besides all the little unexpected extra costs that frequently come with a move.

Jean came to visit on my birthday and gave me a little box with a device in it that I had never seen before.  I thanked her because I was sure it was something to be thankful for — but then I had to ask her what the heck it was!  It was the control to a garage door opener.  Not exactly a typical birthday gift, but certainly one I enjoyed every time I came home and could push a button and raise the garage door without getting out of the car.

Wildlife, a Birthday and Triple Yahtzee!

May 16, 2011

Two weeks ago today I made a road trip to my sister, Martha’s house a couple hours away.  I go down to see her ever once in a while, but I especially wanted to go that day because it was her birthday.  And it is a drive that I really don’t mind.  Much of it is on good roads, sometimes even four lanes, through farmland or wooded, rolling hills. And, of course, what makes the trip most enjoyable is that I get to spend time with my sister when I get there!

Martha’s house  is itself in a rural area surrounded with lots of farms and wildlife.

These horses were in a field just a half mile or so from my destination.  Whenever you slow down or stop to look at horses and they come running over to the fence, as these two did, I assume they get treats from people who drive by sometimes.  But I think these may have been some pretty smart horses, because when Martha and I went back past that field on our way to lunch, I told her how interested in me they seemed when I had gone by earlier.  I then slowed down and rolled down my window in hopes of demonstrating their interest.  But, as I said, they must be pretty smart, because they obviously recognized me and/or my car from earlier, and had figured out that this was not a “treat” car, so they totally ignored me that time.

When we returned from lunch, we had some of the cake I had brought to celebrate the day.  Unfortunately, it was my favorite, easy angel food cake that you make in a 9×13 pan, which is definitely not meant to be frosted.  The recipe for disaster was that I baked it just two hours before I was leaving that morning and then, because our mother always glazed angel food cake (but, of course, the traditional shaped kind — tall with a hole in the middle and completely cooled) I decided right before I left to “glaze” this cake too.  Hmmm.  I may have gone too heavy on the glaze, because by the time I got to Martha’s the cake had fallen badly.  But we each had a piece anyway, and actually it was delicious.  It was about an inch high and, because I cut our pieces out of the middle where the frosting had all run, our pieces were half and half — frosting and mooshed cake.  It tasted pretty good and was definitely good for a laugh.

Then we sat down at the kitchen table to play our traditional three games of Triple Yahtzee.  But this time of year, playing at her kitchen table is distracting.  Her husband spreads corn under several trees in the yard every morning before he goes to work.  So the local wildlife knows exactly where to come to get a free meal.  And apparently the word is out that they have nothing to fear at this house, because they are very calm when they see humans, even if we step outside on the deck.

So, here are a few pictures of the animals who strolled up for a little light lunch.

The raccoon started out at the corn by a tree on the other side of the deck from the window where we sat…

but he soon joined the “lunch crowd” at the tree right outside the window.

This blue jay sat on the deck railing for a little bit, apparently just checking things out.

Then he went down and sampled the “buffet” for himself.

He seems to be saying, “Are you looking at ME?”

Then a friend joined him.

At one point there were six out there, but they were all in constant motion so it was hard to get their picture.

Even without the wildlife, I envy Martha and Will this million dollar view.

I took the pictures of the wildlife while sitting at their kitchen table playing Triple Yahtzee with the birthday girl.  And far be it from me to accuse her of “stacking the deck” against me, but I’ll just tell you that she handily won all three games, while I constantly interrupted the game to take another picture.

Happy Birthday again, Martha.  I love you even more than I love the view from your kitchen window!

What 61 years of marriage looks like!

July 30, 2010

This is my oldest sister and her husband.

I got this look when I  suggested I get a picture of them kissing!

After he warmed to the idea that was no peck … that was an honest-to-goodness smooch!

We should all be so blessed to have such a long and happy marriage.

Beauty and Wit

July 6, 2010

We’ve just returned from a wonderful long weekend with family in Georgia.

While I was there, I took some pictures of these pretty red lilies in my sister, Betty’s yard:

In order to take some of these, I stood on a stool that Betty helpfully brought from the house.  Then while I stood on it, Betty who is 80 years old and her daughter Carol who is old enough that she has gray in her hair, stood on either side of me holding on to me “in case I fell”.  But I told them that realistically if I fell I would probably just fall on them and all three of us would be hurt.  Ahhh, but Carol, ever the quick wit, had an answer for that.  She said (in her sweet southern drawl), “We aren’t really holding on to you to keep you from falling.  We are holding on to you so that if we think you’re going to fall, we can push you away from us so that we won’t be hurt!”

Beautiful flowers, witty relatives.  Both were enjoyed, in their own way.

In the blink of an eye …

May 15, 2010

Sixty-four years ago today, I was born into a family that already had four half-grown kids!  But, luckily for me, bedrooms, lives and hearts were rearranged to make room for one more.  I know how fortunate I am that I was wanted and loved, even though I was a surprise.

The “big kids” crowd around to get a look at the “new kid on the block”.

I was 4 months old in this picture and Daddy had me standing on the hood of the car!  Maybe that early experience is the reason I’ve never had much fear of standing on a stage to speak?

And then he sat me on the fender of the car.  Makes me look kind of “fast” doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s the root of my life-long “need for speed” when driving?

Seriously, sixty-four years have gone by so fast.  And if I have any regrets they are the times I didn’t slow down and savor important moments that were only going to happen once.  And, conversely, I truly treasure the times I really did “take it all in” and enjoy a special moment.

I know it’s easy for me to say and, especially if you are very young, it may be very hard for you to believe, but in some ways sixty-four years have been like the blink of an eye.

So if you would like to give me a birthday present, my sincere wish is that you remember what I have just said, and truly “stop to smell the roses” on your life’s journey.  I promise you, you will never regret it.  And it would be a wonderful gift for me if I felt I had helped you remember to do that.

God has blessed me in so many ways, and those of you who visit this blog are an important part of those blessings.  Thank you.

Can a kid catch a break here?!

April 2, 2010

I just came across this picture of my sister Martha Lou and me just before or after our sister Betty Rose’s wedding.

Seeing the picture immediately reminded me of my ever-so-slight slip-up during the wedding which you can read about in this older post, To get to wear a pretty dress, I just have to throw some flower petals around?  A piece of cake!

I like to think this picture was taken before the wedding and Mama just had us pose so that she could take a picture of our dresses.  But, I’m afraid it may have been taken after the wedding, and ML may be explaining to me why my days as a flower girl were OVER!  Unfortunately, my face is blurred so it’s hard to know if it was showing pre-wedding nerves or post-wedding remorse!

Oh well.  It was a fun gig while it lasted.  Although, in my opinion, there was wayyyy too much supervising and second guessing of the little kid!

But, in the end, it was all worth it because I did get to wear a pretty dress, and I even got paid!  Well, not exactly “paid”, but I did get this bracelet, which I still have, that I remember thrilled me.

My name was engraved on the front and the date of the wedding was engraved on the back.

I think this picture was taken right before the wedding, so apparently they gave me the bracelet to wear in the wedding.  Lucky for me it wasn’t awarded later, based on performance!

All things considered, a fun memory.

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Brotherly love

March 11, 2010

    I can just hear Mama saying, “That’s a pretty big sucker for such a little girl, Sandra.  Here, why don’t you share it with Jimmy and let me take a picture.”

     I was the predictably spoiled late-life baby in the family.  My brother was the closest to me in age, and he was 12 years older!  So with no other little kids in the family to demand I share, as siblings closer in age would do, I didn’t have to share very often.  More often, some older sibling was sharing with me!  But I adored my big brother, so if there was anyone I would have willingly shared this big sucker with, it would have been him.

   Of course, Jimmy was still the only son in the family, but when I came along it ended his 12-year reign as the baby of the family!  My arrival had to have caused some shifts in the dynamics of the family that weren’t particularly great for him.  Yet, I don’t remember him ever being unkind to me.  

In fact, Jimmy and his friends were all pretty accepting of me!  I’m told that if Jimmy had to babysit and the guys wanted him to go to a movie with them, they would take me along!  (I was also told that when he babysat he had trouble making me go to bed, so Mama and Daddy would sometimes come home to find him and me sleeping on the living room floor!  No pillows, no blankets — just laying on the floor asleep — apparently exhausted from the battle of wills over me going to sleep in my bed!)

    Adam, Larry, Pat holding me, and Jimmy were Scouts as well as friends. 

 Pat and Adam were brothers and didn’t have any other siblings, so I think Jimmy’s baby sister was a novelty to them.

There were lots of good reasons why Jimmy could have considered me a pain in the neck and an inconvenience, but he loved and cared for me anyway.  So, when I think of “brotherly love” I think of Jimmy.

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March 9, 2010


I found this picture that was taken about the same time as the sleeping one from yesterday and I just wanted to show it to you because of how cute it is of Martha Lou awake and without jam on her face!

    I have to smile every time I look at it.  I have no idea what that is they have put her on because I certainly don’t see any wheels!  And they’ve had to run a strap of some kind under her arms to help her sit up on it — but look at that smile!  I challenge you to not smile when you look at that happy little face!

And here are a couple more photos when Martha Lou was a baby from the album that Mama made for her (she made one for each of us).

    I picture little Jean Marie thinking, as she looks at the new baby, “Who the heck is that?  And you say she’s going to live with us?!”

    But it didn’t take them long to accept her as one of the “gang”>

   I like this picture of Mama and Daddy with month-old Martha Lou.  They never lived on a farm, so this is at someone else’s house, and it’s the only picture I’ve ever seen of Daddy in overalls!  Maybe he was helping a friend on his farm.  Anyway, I just like the “look” of the picture — in front of the field of corn, the lighting, Daddy in overalls, Mama in a dress and Daddy cradling baby Martha Lou.

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