Friday, November 30, 2012

I Have an Idea

And since it's Friday I also have some Fragments, but first- my idea.  

The world, including and maybe especially the grand ole USA, feels like not a very nice place lately, don't you think?  So much anger and sorrow.  So much impatience and hate.  People weighed down, not just by their circumstances, but by the vague notion that we've lost the ability to treat one another with kindness.  In our part of the country so many have lost so much and in all parts of this world there are people whose hope in the goodness of humankind is chipped away a little bit more everyday.  

But...Christmas is coming!  So many people sigh when they read that, but let's not think about our undone to-dos for a minute.  Let's instead think about the fact that Christmas is coming!  The gift of Christmas is hope.  Not in a government, or an agency, or a family member, or an insurance company.  It's hope in a baby who is The Light of the World and that hope is offered to every single person on this planet we call home.  That's the thought I want to carry into the new year.   

I want to be nice this December. I actually want to be nice year round, but I've decided to do something deliberate this month and you're invited to join me. I'm going to host something we'll call  The Twelve Days of Christmas Kindness this month.  I want to invite and challenge you to perform twelve acts of deliberate kindness during the month of December.  While I'd like to think I show kindness everyday I want to make a point of looking for ways to brighten someone's day...hour...minute. Twelve acts of kindness in 25 days. That doesn't sound so hard, does it?  

I'll have my daughter make a button you can add to your blog, hopefully on Monday (Daughter1???) if you decide to participate. Beginning Thursday, December 20th there will also be a linky list posted here on This Side of the Pond.  You're invited on that day (and all the way up til Christmas) to link a blog post sharing your thoughts on your own Twelve Days of Christmas Kindness.  

So who's in?

In other news I have a few fragments to share. I'm pretty sure fragments are blogese for camera dump which is kind of what I have today.  Miscellaneous pictures from the past week that I need to show someone.  You're that lucky someone.  

Remember my girls were home for four and 3/4 whole entire days?  Here's daughter2 going for a spin in the little red car.  Here's hubs asking me why it still takes so long for me to snap a photo?  I fear I lack the photography gene.  

It was warm-ish on Thanksgiving Day, warm for November anyway, but when you're in the little car with the top down you need a ski band round your ears and a blanket across your lap and the sunshine on your face.  So fun!

Remember our landscaping project?  The one we were frantically wrapping up even while the hurricane winds were gaining speed with New Jersey in her sights? Well it's done. Miraculously every new little bit of ground cover and every barely in the ground evergreen stayed put. 

Getting those evergreens up and onto that deceptively steep hillside took the entire team plus one bulldozer operator.  I bought them donuts.  They deserved it.  

We are so happy with the end result. Essentially there is a hill that runs along one side of our driveway and we had plants removed, trees trimmed, ground cover added, pine trees planted on the steepest part of the curve, a ginormous and beautiful boulder de-dirted, cleaned, and power washed.  Yes they power washed our rock. Thanksgiving day was just gorgeous and the girls hung out on that rock. 

 Ha-Daughter1 looks like she is not entirely believing whatever Daughter2 is saying. 

They told me I could sunbathe here in the summertime which I'm certain the neighbors would love.  Right. Maybe if I looked like these two little miniature people?  

One of my favorite parts of the project is our new pillars. They went from this-

to this-

Well, there are lights on top but I took this picture before the electrician had come. He was delayed by someone named Sandy.  

Hubs added the lovely reflectors last weekend and you may be asking yourself why. If you live where it snows a lot you don't have to wonder. At some point this winter it is quite likely you will not be able to see the pillars because they'll be buried under feet of snow. The reflectors help the snow plow operator know where to plow and where not to ding brand new pillars with his machine.  ahem.  

Hubs got those reflectors in just in time because on Tuesday our new landscaping looked like this-  

It was a beautiful snowfall, the big fluffy flake kind.


A bright blue sky makes me ridiculously happy.

It was also good hubs got the outside lights up over the bright, sunny, warm-ish Thanksgiving weekend.  It meant that on Tuesday this little pine tree by the front porch could look like an actual Christmas tree.

We did get our trees up inside too. Sorta kinda. They need zhuzzing and one needs a topper, but they're mostly done.  I'll leave you (finally!) with this picture of my two favorite girls-

I love everything about this photo.  They're holding up the ornaments they each made in kindergarten, one in 1993 and one in 1995.  

I loved those little 5-year old faces.
Love their 20-something selves too.  

Mommy's Idea

To read more Friday Fragments go here.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Outdoor Merriment

Remember Thanksgiving? Hard to believe it was only a week ago isn't it? Seems like Thanksgiving gets run over by Christmas every year, but I'm doing my part not to rush it away. Thanksgiving day in our neck of the woods was gorgeous.  

When I say our neck of the woods I literally mean our neck of the woods. Before all the cooking and carb-fest my little family hiked up to the top of the hill behind our house...

It's steep!  That's the top of my house in the photo.  

Whew! We made it! 

We saw plenty of evidence that a tresspasser had been here.  An angry someone by the name of Sandy left her mark on these woods not very long ago.  

We watched some deer hanging out near the enormous root ball of a group of downed trees. Hubs took a little video but their camouflage was designed by Someone who really knew what He was doing.  

This is our big rock.  

Okay, technically it's not ours, but it does sit right at the edge of our piece of the woods. 
Kinda like our own little scenic overlook-

For some reason I've got a firm hold on Daughter2.  
Old habits are hard to break I guess.  

The woods are full of ferns right now and that always makes us think of our once-upon-a-time English village. We used to walk to town on a path that went through some woods, teeming with ferns.  I always felt a little bit like I was in a fairy tale and at any moment a little creature might pop out from under the leaves and speak with a human voice.  

New Jersey is not England, but it has its own charms.  

I may have to look a little harder to see them...

...but a walk in the woods with the people I love on a blue sky Thanksgiving morning is a gentle reminder that God is good.  So good.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Unwrapping the Hodgepodge Vol 103

Welcome to the first Hodgepodge of the Christmas season!  I know it's not technically December, but I always feel like the Monday following Thanksgiving marks the transition into holiday mode.  Be sure to add your link to the bottom of my post and then spread some Christmas cheer by visiting the neighbors.  

Only four hodgepodges til Christmas, just in case you're wondering.

1.  With that being said, I think I need to dive right into some Christmas related questions, don't you?  Which do you prefer-pretty gift wrap with a bow or a pretty gift bag with/without a bow? What percentage of your holiday gifts are currently (as in right this very minute) wrapped in some form or fashion?

I have a bit of a thing for pretty wrapping paper.  The Container Store is super dangerous for me this time of year.  I love the way they display their papers with ribbon and embellishments...definitely makes me want to load up a cart full.   I also love pretty gift bags, especially for awkward items that aren't easily boxed, but I think there is something about unwrapping a beautifully wrapped package that just isn't the same with a bag.  

Did I answer the question?  
Pretty gift wrap.  

Oh, and if we're talking right this minute then 0.0%  

2. What is one item on your Christmas list this year?

A snow jacket.  Some people might call this item a ski jacket, but in my case snow jacket is probably more accurate.  I know I'm getting this one because my mom had me try some on while I was visiting a couple of weeks ago, and then she bought the one I chose.  She'll wrap it though.  

In a box with a beautiful bow.  

3. What makes a home?

I  find the concept of 'home' very difficult to put into words.  

Home is your people.   

Home is also your stuff.  I don't mean couches and tables and such, but rather the bits and pieces that stamp your name on a place...that make you say 'I belong here'.  

Home is a place where it's okay to be raw, open, vulnerable.   To be the real you and yet be loved and cherished because of, and in spite of, who the real you may be.  

It's a lap to fall into.
A safe haven from a sometimes cruel world.

4. Motown founder Berry Gordy celebrates his birthday today...are you a fan of the Motown sound?  If so who's your favorite Motown artist and/or song?  Here's a list in case you're stuck.

I love the Motown sound, especially the early hits. I don't think I can pick a favorite, but The Four Tops, The Temptations and Gladys Knight and the Pips are high on my list.  I for sure can't pick a favorite song but Just My Imagination by the Temptations is right up there near the top.   

5. Red or green...which one is more prevalent in your closet?

Probably red.  Not a true red, more of an orangey-red which I prefer with my coloring. 

6. True or false-bacon makes it better?  If you answered true, what's your favorite dish made with bacon?

True.  I make a lot of Saturday morning bacon and eggs and I love a BLT anytime.  We also eat a lot of Cobb salads and crispy bacon is essential.  

7. Share a favorite holiday memory.

My memories of Christmas morning growing up always start on the steps.  Every year my parents (who had likely just gone to bed) would go downstairs first so my mom could make the coffee and my dad could start the fire.  Then he'd fiddle with the camera for what seemed like for-e-vah and we four kids would squish together on the steps for the traditional taking of the Christmas morning photograph.  So much is captured in that early morning moment...the anticipation, the excitement, and most of all-the love.  

I've carried that tradition on with my own girls and they squish and grumble like we did, but they get it.  They know it doesn't matter if you're celebrating at Mema's house...

c. 1994

or high up on a mountain in the hills of Tennessee... 

c. 2000

You can move across the ocean, but still you can't escape it...

c. 2008

In fact, it doesn't even matter if you're practically all grown up and have cousins visiting for the holidays...

c. 2009

Her mama is my sister and she knows.  

Until you have children of your own you must endure (and secretly love) the traditional Christmas morning, sittin'-on-the-step photo.  I'd bet money that one day in the not so distant future these girls  insist their own children sit there too.  

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

It snowed here all day yesterday so originally I thought I'd insert a picture as my random.  I spent the day doing a little more decorating and organizing for Christmas and as I worked I played this song once or twice or maybe ten times. I never get tired of Casting Crowns version of this classic carol, and the lyrics feel especially poignant at the end of November in the year 2012.  Definitely worth adding to your Christmas play list...

In our hearts and in our homes and for this nation. 

That's my answer for #2.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Unwrapping the Hodgepodge Questions

Hodgepodge already?  But I'm not done talking about Thanksgiving.  I guess I'll save the rest for Thursday's post.  Hmmm...will it still be relevant?  Have I ever let a little thing like relevancy stop me from blogging?  Ha.

Here are this week's questions...come back tomorrow (Wednesday) to link answers. Oh, and come back on Thursday to read my weekend recap before the weekend hits again. You need to keep up people!

Four hodgepodges til Christmas in case you were wondering.

1.  With that being said I think I need to dive right in to some Christmas related questions, don't you? Which do you prefer-pretty gift wrap with a bow or a pretty gift bag with/without a bow?  What percentage of your holiday gifts are currently (as in right this very minute) wrapped in some form or fashion?

2.  What is one item on your Christmas list this year?

3.  What makes a home?

4.  Motown founder Berry Gordy celebrates his birthday on Hodgepodge Day-November 28th. Are you a fan of the Motown sound?  If so, who's your favorite Motown artist and/or song? Here's a list in case you're stuck.

5.  Red or green-which one is more prevalent in your closet?

6.  True or false-bacon makes it better? If you answered true, what's your favorite dish made with bacon?

7.  Share a favorite holiday memory.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Little and the Big

I wish I were one of those bloggers who could sit down and churn out a humorous, heartfelt, and concise summary of an event immediately after said event occurs, but I'm not.  I could probably write four posts about our Thanksgiving weekend, but instead I'll do my usual thing and jam it all into one.  Maybe two.  Welcome to this side of the pond.

My girls were home for five whole complete entire days.  Well four and three quarters, but that's still something.  Daughter1 took Wednesday off from work, which meant we could make one airport-train station run to collect them both on Tuesday evening. Gotta be thankful for the small things, right?

The traffic getting to the airport does not qualify as a small thing. Everyone and their brother must have been heading over the meadow and through the woods on Tuesday night.  Or down the turnpike and across the parkway as it happens in northern NJ.

See, this is why I should write about our weekend as it happens.  I've just written an entire paragraph describing the traffic.

And then I feel the need to tell you that...moving on-

We made our traditional post-airport pickup stop at the diner for dinner at 9 PM because that's what you do when your kids live far from home and have jobs and don't get in until 8:15.  Something else to be thankful for-the diners in NJ are open pretty much 24/7.

The girls and I sent hubs out to run last minute errands on Wednesday morning while we got busy cooking.  It was just the four of us for Thanksgiving dinner, but you still have to make all the traditional sides-mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn pudding, dressing, brussel sprouts with pancetta, cranberries, and squash casserole.  

Normally we do creamed onions too, but daughter1 took a cooking class this fall so she treated us to homemade French Onion soup instead.  It was fab-u-lous.  And extra delicious because we served it in these too cute individual terrines I'd ordered from Williams Sonoma.

Pretty dishes make me happy.

Remember it's the little things people.

Everyone helped with the prep...daughter1 made the soup and the Pioneer Woman's cranberry recipe which I loved.  Daughter2 is my official chopper and she did all the onions and celery for our stuffing, plus she made the squash casserole and a magazine-worthy pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.

We broke with tradition a little and opted for cheesecake instead of pie.  Nobody revolted.  We always have fruit salad as a dessert option too, a very specific fruit salad like my mama made and her mama before her, and maybe her mama before her too. Apples, oranges, and red grapes that must be pitted and halved, and a can of crushed pineapple poured over all. Daughter1 pitted, peeled and chopped-

She also made a cheese ball for snacking on all weekend.

She is very serious about her assignment.

Did I do any of the cooking? Ha-yes...someone has to make the turkey, the dressing, and the sweet potato casserole.  Plus someone has to assign recipes to specific pans and solve the Rubik's Cube that is your oven on Thanksgiving, right?

And thankfully someone else has to polish the silver.  Hubs did such a good job I think this will be forevermore on his to-do list instead of mine.

It's the little things, remember?
Actually I think it's the little things mixed together with the big things.

Like daughters who mash the potatoes...

and sisters so happy to spend time together they must mark the day with a picture.

It's family round the table...

...and daughters whose very presence in your life fill your heart to overflowing.

It's also wordy bloggers who decide maybe they will break their holiday weekend recap into two or three posts.  

Is that a big thing or a little thing?  

Either way, you're welcome.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Hodgepodge of Thanksgiving-Vol 102

Should I be online when I have a to do list that needs ticking?  Probably not, but here I am anyway.  Actually I put the Hodgepodge on my Thanksgiving to do list because a) I know that way it will get done and b) I like to cross stuff off a list.

Wishing all Hodgepodgers around the world the gift of a thankful heart today and everyday!

1. Turkey-love it or leave it? White meat or dark?  What's your favorite thing to make using leftover turkey?

I love turkey and prefer the white meat, although I can eat the dark too. When I was a kid I did not like the taste of the dark meat at all, but as I've gotten older I find it's usually moister than the white and I like that. I love a homemade turkey noodle soup made with the leftovers, but you need a carcass for that. We're small and cozy this year with just the four of us having dinner together, so I'm roasting a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey.  There will be enough for a turkey sandwich topped with leftover stuffing and cranberry though, and that's my other favorite way to use the leftovers.  Yum!

2. Gotta burn off all those carbs the day after a holiday feast so which would you rather do-run a 10K or climb a mountain?

I don't run. Oh I run a little on the treadmill, but I'm not hard core-ha! I do love to hike though, and would choose to climb ten mountains over a run any day. If the weather cooperates this weekend we'll  bundle up and do just that.

3. Do you feel like social networking has made your relationships better or worse?  Explain.

Speaking as someone who has moved a lot I think social networking has been a wonderful thing.  

For the most part. 

I enjoy sharing and seeing family photos, getting travel, dining, and shopping tips, hearing about the everyday goings on in my friend's lives.  Are there negatives? Yeah. I think we all know what they are so I'm not going to spell them out here.  

4. How do you find and express gratitude for the hard things in your life?

Something I have pondered quite a lot in the year 2012.  

There are things in this world I will never understand, but I remind myself of this...

'Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely...' 1 Cor. 13:12

I have to believe that while I don't always understand the 'whys' of a particular circumstance God does.  His Word tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, that He is working all things together for our good.  He alone knows the end from the very beginning and for that I'm grateful.  

5. In the US the day after Thanksgiving has been dubbed 'Black Friday'.  Is most of your holiday shopping done live and in person or is done more through the magic of the Internet? How do you feel about stores opening at midnight on Thanksgiving?  Will you be out amongst the masses on Friday?

I seem to pick up the smaller stocking stuffer type goodies in person, but I order most of the larger items online.  I dislike the crowds and I especially dislike the desperate attitude that seems to have taken over the American shopper. Seriously, people are camping out in front of Best Buy four days before Thanksgiving? Pitching tents there? Get a grip America!!

I hate that stores are open on Thanksgiving. I realize the economy is in the toilet and no one should complain about working when so many are not, but can't we as a nation agree to set just one or two days aside where everyone is free to count their blessings and relax with their families?  If you're a brain surgeon or a policeman or fireman that's different, but in my book mall/shop employees fall under non-essential personnel on Thanksgiving. 

6. Speaking of the color black-which black item in your wardrobe would you say is your favorite?

My little black dress of course.

7. What do you appreciate about your life today?

The smart, funny, compassionate little girls I've had the privilege to raise.  The lovely young women they are today makes my heart overflow.  

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Daughters are in the house!  Yay!  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful for Hodgepodgers and Pioneer Women

What would a week of Thanksgiving be without the Hodgepodge?  We're all grateful to have a springboard for our thoughts every Wednesday, right?

Before I post this week's questions I have to share a picture-

Why, yes that is me (scrunched down at a very awkward angle) with my new best friend, The Pioneer Woman.  

Okay maybe not my best friend, but I'm absolutely certain we'd be friends if I lived on a neighboring Oklahoma ranch instead of a Big Apple suburb. Last Saturday Kim (Kimberly's Korner) and I went to a nearby town to meet Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman.  As an aside, Kim and I met through our blogs and discovered we lived not too far from one another which has been fun.  On Saturday she drove and I talked her ear off.

Anyway, Ree Drummond was signing books, specifically her new Christmas book for children, but also her cookbooks.  The store had a problem with their shipment of her newest cookbook so they only had her first one and her children's books for sale.  I was hoping to get her newest cookbook so was a little disappointed, but when I mentioned it that night to my daughter she pointed out I already own the new one.  Good grief.  I knew that.  As soon as she said it I knew it.  I've actually even made some of the recipes in that book.

Sometimes I worry my very own self.

The Pioneer Woman is positively adorable! She's funny too, and seemed so down to earth. Maybe that's because she isn't someone who went out looking for fame the way so many people do today. Instead, fame found her.

A lot of celebs decide to write children's books thinking, "I'm famous and people will buy it so why not?" I love that PW's children's books are based on the real life antics of her dog Charlie. She has four kids of her own and the books feel like a natural extension of life with a lovable, slightly lazy dog on a working ranch. On Saturday she had all the kids in the store gather round (one climbed right into her lap) while she read her latest, Charlie and the Christmas Kitty.  This story included a line where Ree barked just like a Basset Hound and the kids absolutely loved it. We definitely should be neighbors.

Coincidentally I'm making one of our favorite PW recipes tomorrow night-Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp, and actually I plan to have daughter2 prepare the dish.  She's made it before, and in my house when you do a task once it's yours for life.  How do you think hubs ended up with the job of cleaning our shower til the end of time?

If you come to my house be careful what you volunteer for-Ha!

Okay, I know not all our Hodgepodgers are American, but gratitude for all we have is universal so everyone can still play along with this week's questions.  Be sure to waddle on over here tomorrow so we can link our answers...

1. Turkey-love it or leave it?  White meat or dark?  What's your favorite thing to make using leftover turkey?

2. Gotta burn off all those carbs the day after a holiday feast so which would you rather do-run a 10K or climb a mountain?

3.  Do you feel like social networking has made your relationships better or worse?  Explain.

4. How do you find and express gratitude for the hard things in your life?

5.  In the US, the day after Thanksgiving has been dubbed 'Black Friday'.  Is most of your holiday shopping done live and in person, or is it done more through the magic of the Internet? How do you feel about stores opening at midnight Thanksgiving night? Will you be out amongst the masses on Friday?

6.  Speaking of the color black-which black item in your wardrobe would you say is your favorite?

7.  What do you appreciate about your life today?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I would normally insert some sort of excuse  apology in here as to why my blog follows the pitiful pattern of falling apart just after the Hodgepodge every week, but really does anybody care?  Does anybody notice?  I think in blogging, if you miss seizing the moment it's best to carry on and know another moment is waiting just around the bend.

Hubs has been at a meeting in Texas since last Monday.  I hope he can get back home without a passport because goodness, the US is in turmoil right now.  Really we need to be on our knees for this country.

That isn't where I intended to go with this post, but sometimes words have a mind of their own on this side of the pond and sometimes I think editing is overrated.

Back to my week...I trekked to my mom's on Tuesday afternoon and by trekked I mean, got in my car and drove down the interstate.

It's going to be one of those posts. The kind where I'm all over the place and you're gonna need a strong cup of somethin' if you have any hope at all of keeping up.

I arrived at my moms in time for dinner Tuesday evening, and my brother and younger sister and their families joined us to celebrate my brother's birthday.  I snapped this picture and after I posted it online we realized he and my nephew were dressed alike.

Complete coincidence and so funny, because we didn't really notice that at the table. My mom made a delicious meal and I made banana cream pie cupcakes for dessert since my brother is a fan of banana cream pie. 

Sisters rock. 
So do mothers. 
Just sayin'.

On Wednesday I did something I've never done before...I went to a seniors luncheon with my mom.  You should know that while my mama is 82 she does not look it.  At.all.  She would not want to be identified here as a senior citizen, but she is.  She rebels against it though, which I think helps keep you young. Her church has a group that meets for lunch and a program once a month, and the age requirement is 55 and ups. It's fair to say most in attendance were older than the minimum.  

Except me.
I was under minimum age.  The young one.  Ha.

It occurred to me as I sat at a table surrounded by seniors, that I'm not too far away from meeting the senior luncheon eligibility requirement.  Believe you me, that is quite a thought.  There is no way can I be anywhere close to being eligible, is there?  In the year 2012 is age 55 really senior?  I think not.

Thursday afternoon we trekked to my sister's house in center city Philadelphia and again, by trekked I mean we took the car across the bridge. We picked my nephew up at school and took him to a tennis lesson which was highly entertaining.  Have you ever watched 30 six and seven year old children play tennis?  They were divided into four groups so about seven in each.  His young instructor had the patience of Job which was a wonderful thing to see. Balls are flying and rolling and kids are jumping and bouncing and loving life,  yet somehow he managed to have them stand on the line and hit the ball back and give him a big high five when they succeeded.

My mom and I did some Christmas shopping each day and Friday was no different. She had friends in town for the day too, so we met them for a leisurely lunch at Seasons 52.  A very nice afternoon until we got back to her house and smelled gas. We thought we'd noticed it a couple days earlier, but the smell evaporated so we didn't call the gas company.

On Friday she called the gas company.

Turns out her furnace has a broken thingamabob and what that means is she needs a brand new furnace.  Ugh. I'm pretty sure that was not on her Christmas list.

Do you think the red maple in her front yard makes bad news a little easier to bear?  It literally takes your breath away every time you step outside.  

I always take the pup with me when I go to my moms and she is in her glory there. Partly because my mom is a softy and sneaks her treats, but also because I take her for long walks through the neighborhood.  

The neighborhood.  It is a sprawling subdivision with sidewalks urging you to walk just a little bit further.  Houses are not huge, but they are plenty big enough.  It is a cozy corner of the world where lawns are mowed and leaves are raked.  Where mothers push strollers and kids ride their bikes and neighbors wave and stop to chat.  It is the stomping grounds of my childhood and as I walk these quiet streets on a clear autumn day I remember. 

I wandered all the way down to my old elementary school, a place I hadn't seen up close in years. From the front it hasn't changed all that much, except the trees are taller. They've added a new wing out back, but I can still see the field where I learned to pitch a softball to my 6th grade teacher. The field is still there too, and I remember end of year field days where we competed in the long jump and ate orange Popsicles in the warm June sunshine.  

I walked by the side door, the spot where we lined up every year on the first day of school. It was here you waited with great anticipation for a teacher to call your name and claim you for the year.  We never knew whose class we'd be in until we got to school on that first day, but you hoped for the nice one, the one who didn't yell.  Then you crossed your fingers hoping your best friend would be called too.

That end of the building is the blacktop end...the place where a thousand games of dodge ball were played...where ropes were skipped and friends were tagged.  Where stones were tossed and grabbed from a chalky hopscotch board beneath your feet.

From the front of the school I look up the street and remember the 'short cut'. This route home was dubbed 'the short cut' by the kids who lived a few blocks up.  I was one of those kids and we often took the shortcut home at lunchtime or after school. You walked up the street but then had to cut through a couple of yards to get to our street. You could do that back then because neighbors knew neighbors and very few had fences.

When I was in the first grade and walking home for lunch one day a group of us stopped to talk on the corner where we crossed. A boy in the group was swinging his jacket in the air above his head and somehow he managed to catch me with the zipper. All of a sudden blood was everywhere, literally gushing from the top of my head.

No one had really seen what happened, we all just saw the blood and heard my hysterical screams as I took off running toward home.  I remember my best friend running behind me also crying hysterically, asking me if I was dying.  I  think first grade girls have always had a touch of the drama.  ahem.

As I went racing up the street we saw an older woman I didn't know working in her garden. I suspect she heard me before she saw me and she came running over asking me to please let her drive me home.  It was only a couple of blocks, but my mama had drilled into my head never ever ever under any circumstances, even when blood is pouring out of your head, should you accept a ride from a stranger.  I said no thank you between my sobs, accepted the towel she offered, and ran on home.

My mom took me to the doctor which for us meant a trip across the bridge into Philadelphia. My dad was military and we had to see a doctor at the Navy Hospital.  I remember the tetnus shot and the teeny tiny little doll couple purchased afterwards, my reward for being a brave girl. They were dressed in Amish clothing with matching purple shirts and black trousers and skirt.

It's funny what you remember.

I've lived and traveled a million jillion places in this big 'ole world, but every now and then I need to let  a place that sleeps within my soul waken and rise to the surface.  I need to click my heels together and think of home and the girl I used to be.