Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Big Family Melee

Well, my whole family showed up, although some members (nieces, nephews, brother in law) headed back to Chicago early because of work. The general consensus is that it was fun.
My family plays games, we sing songs and we drink. We have certain traditions when we get together, like Ping Pong tournaments, Moriarity Are You There?, Capture the Flag or Tag outside in the Woods....we are quite competitive and we did some of the usual games. We often play the dictionary game but this year I borrowed from gmcountrymama's version for the Thanksgiving meal. My younger sister and I, with our kids gave each person a word at dinner time. They had to use the word at least two times an hour. We thought that this game might cut most of the "crap" conversation that goes on, however the words proved hard to use. Then we just said you had to use it in a sentence as to why you were thankful. That was most amusing.

While the last minute touches were being put on dinner we had our annual ping pong tournament. Above is a picture of the team that won, my older sister is the one on the right. I think they are holding a trophy, but I don't think they took the trophy home because it is one of my son's most valued possessions, at least it was when my son was twelve. The young man in the picture is my nephew Matt. It seems that he is always part of a winning team. He has been winning for at least the last three tournaments. He was partnered with my other sister for those. My sisters have no talent, trust me.
We did have a rousing game of Group Tag in the pine trees. The branches touch the ground and the trees are pretty tall so the kids were jumping from tree to tree. The trees are so close together that if you fall you can grab onto another tree. It is kid heaven and we are all kids at heart around here.
For the most part we sat around a talked. Lots of good conversations. Well worth the effort.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I am gearing up for Thanksgiving

My family is coming up this year for the holiday so I am busy cooking. The last thing I want to do when I have my family up here is spend all my time in the kitchen, so I make as much as I can ahead of time. I am also busy washing linens and making beds because I have three families plus extras who stay with us. These are pictures from a few years ago. And when I tell you we make everyone wear orange when they are outside I am not kidding. Its hunting season and the Thanksgiving weekend is big for hunters.

My brother in law and his daughter went out for a morning jog. As you can see they are wearing the requisite orange gear and carrying bats. The bats are for protection. We insisted. There were some rotweillers in the neighborhood. Most people in this area do not kennel their dogs. Those rotweillers were a major problem.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This is my mom and her friend, Mario. Mom relocated to Chicago from a small town in Northeaster Ohio. She now lives smack dab in the middle between two towns and my two sisters, in the Western Chicago suburbs of Naperville and Aurora. Mom and Mario met a number of years ago in what I like to refer to as an "Emphysema awareness" class. It was some type of cardio-exercise program. My mom quit smoking about ten or fifteen years ago after more than twenty five years as a smoker. Now she is suffering from a mild case of emphysema, as is Mario. They are both widowers. In my mother's case, it was her second husband whom she lost. Mario lost his only wife the year before. He had been married to the same woman for more than thirty years. If you think you're too old for love, well your never too old, just ask them.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A blast from the past

When my brother was in middle school- of course we called it Junior High, he and his friends would get together up in his room and play Risk. It is the game where you have little colored pieces that represent armies and you roll the dice to do battle and the highest roll wins. The board is divided by territories and continents and the more territories you conquer, the more land and armies you acquire. After playing this game you see why Europe and Asia were constantly being over run throughout history and so difficult for the
conquering army to hang onto. I would walk by my brother's bedroom and the chatter was deafening. There was so much excitement and shouting. My brother and his friends would spend hours and days playing the game. They loved it..

It is a great game, then and now. I used to play it on the occasional weekend night with my friends in the dorm when I was in college. We would go all evening and finally it would end with someone flipping the board, or throwing pencils. We were very competitive and didn't handle losing well.

We used to play here at home with the kids or just Harry, after a holiday meal or on a cold Saturday evening in the winter. As in, Monopoly, another Moore favourite, in this household, we always try and form alliances or make deals. I loved playing with my husband, because he'll always do these truly sweet things for me exclusively, like in Monopoly, let me land on Boardwalk four times rent free (this is after he's got two and three houses on it, and could bring you to your knees in the game financially), or in Risk he'll give me a country that he would like for us to visit sometime, or the one that I should be Queen of. He was such a gentleman, and there is nothing the kids can do about it.

My son plays Risk. He plays with his friends and he plays when he goes to Chicago to visit his cousins. Or on vacation, he will bring a Risk board and the cousins will spend an evening at it. If you talk to the boys, my son and nephews, they will engage you in a discussion of the game, and their strategy and who was winning, or how the game was won or lost by whom. It makes my eyes roll to the back of my head to listen to them. I appreciate that they get so excited, and it represents drama to them, but frankly it is dull to listen to. But I think back to the excitement I used to witness with my brother and his friends, and I think, well alright, its that kind of thing.

My son just recently went over to his friends and they played a rousing game, or so he says. He was telling me how he won the game with great gusto and excruciating detail; the alliances and deceptions that were occurring. And here is something, they were text messaging each other under the table. As he was negotiating pacts and alliances with one party, he was receiving text messages on his cell phone from another party. Sweet.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Trees and solitude

I pulled this poem from "right hand pointing"
The poet reminds me of Mark Strand (Eating Poetry, The Marriage).

We have at least fifty acres of trees in various stages of growth. Our trees our like our children. We are sad when we lose one. Over the years we've watched them grow. We've even had trees moved rather than cut them down. We moved about twenty trees once with one of those huge spades. That was an amazing machine. All the trees lived. We haven't always been as successful with other tree planting projects.
Also, we have more wildlife here now than when we first bought the land and it was all just cornfields. I've seen a barr owl and a pileated woodpecker. Pileated woodpeckers need mature forest . The owl needs big old trees for nesting too.

We talk about selling our property and the polite thing to do is ask your neighbors, but some neighbors I just wouldn't sell to because they would till some of the fields coming out of CRP back into crop land. I can just tell. My husband and I have talked about doing a land trust, but not sure how hard it would be to sell if we did leave. And then other days I think that this is absolutely the best place to be, and I love the solitude and privacy. I think I should stay here for as long as I can because I will miss it when I leave. I don't think anybody would understand unless they lived in a place like this and had the room and the freedom we have had living here. Recently I've begun going for a walk every evening before sunset, as long as the weather holds. I walk along the fencelines which go through shared woods and field. I enjoy it very much.
Watching the Pine Fall
by Doug Draime

Am I the one to ask the question
Or the guy across the street
With a chain saw biting deep into a pine tree?
Words very often appear on wood
A highly refined bleached wood
Maybe this paper was once a pine?
Nevermind, no words can compare to a tree
But any idiot can operate a chain saw

Friday, November 2, 2007

No worries

Michelle, the cleaning lady with OCD, did a great job, and, she is very nice. There were a few things that I will probably need to work on. All the sheets for the bed have to match. Consequently, she didn't replace some of the pillow cases because they weren't right. My linen closet is probably as unorganized as they come, and I throw together whatever as long as its the right size for making up the beds. I guess I'll have to re-organize that closet too. It's time.

She confessed that she replaced John's water glass three times because there were bugs in it (fall is always ladybug / elder bug season crazy in the house). If you live in the suburbs you will not understand, or if you are heavy into pesticides, my house would be a problem for you, because I will not even kill spiders. Here in Minnesota we really do not have anything lethal anyway that would come indoors.

My husband keeps a beer mug of water on the table that he uses all week long, and maybe once a week I'll replace it with a clean mug. I don't worry about the possibilities of him swallowing a bug unless I see it happen or there is one in the glass at the time I am passing by. Michelle suggested putting saran wrap over the top, but that would be complicated for John to remove at best.

The only incident was, very early on I recieved a call from Michelle, because John was asking for her help to find a disk that contained his phone numbers. Well, he hasn't used a diskette in a pc for ten years, and he was thinking of when we lived in Maryland and he used to carry his phone numbers on a diskette that he would take between his home office and work. So I walked Michelle through re-booting the pc, and bypassing the hard drive scanning program. John is using a 486 processor pc with windows 98 because his talking program, Jaws, is old and has been out of service for years. It would cost $900.00 to upgrade, and another $135.00 for software maintenance agreements, so I am keeping this pc alive for as long as I possibly can. John has a phone number file on his desktop, and I showed Michelle how to access this. I explained the situation to her, that as a result of the stroke, he confuses past and present and sometimes he will have moments of clarity so she will just have to ask Harry or I to explain what John is referring to. Brain damage is an interesting thing. It can turn life into a crossword puzzle. I guess I would prefer to work them at my leisure, but it is what it is and we can rise to the occasion.