Home Again!

As John Denver sang, “Gee it;’s good to be back home again!” I know we weren’t gone long, but sleeping in any bed but my own just isn’t the same.

We stayed at the La Quinta Inn on Appleway in Coeur d’Alene. Our room was very nice. We had a humongous king-sized bed. I felt like Amoeba and I were sleeping in separate rooms.

I took Amoeba by the house I grew up in. He saw my elementary school — what could be seen of the original building behind the additions and portables. And he saw the park that now occupies what once was a gully. The hole was filled, the land pretty much leveled, and soft green grass now grows where there used to be weeds, wild flowers and evergreen trees.

Amoeba and I spent time with two of my sisters, my brother-in-law, my cousin Patty and three of her kids. My sister Jackie and I went to the second hand store and I bought Amoeba two brand new pair of blue jeans for $5.00 each. He didn’t need blue jeans, but at that price I couldn’t not buy them.

Jackie also sent two cases of homemade jam home with us. We packed them in the suitcase which, ironically enough, actually made it easier to pull. From now on I am always going to pack it way too full. (Don’t tell Amoeba.)

We had lovely weather for driving. We didn’t take out own car, but rented a Chevy HHR instead. I didn’t have a chance to drive it, but Amoeba says it handled well. I know it was very comfortable to ride in. So comfortable I even had a couple of naps.

I have pics. Not many, but definitely a couple I want to share. For right now I have some business to take care of, then I’m headed for bed. I will see you all tomorrow!

Intentional Chocolate

Coming this September: Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival in beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho.

Artists, thinkers, speakers and spiritual leaders invite you to “see the world through ideas” in a broad selection of spiritual films from around the world. Explore cultural applications of spirituality as well as new thoughts, ideas and pathways to personal awareness. If the video below is any indication of quality, the Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival will be a visual feast!

Jim Walsh, the CEO of HESA Institute and the CEO of Intentional Chocolate, is one of the speakers at this year’s Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival. Walsh will present the short film, “Cracking the Cosmic Egg” which he describes as being the new frontier in human energy systems where science, spirituality and nutrition all combine to provide maximum health benefits for mankind. Here is a bio of Walsh from the site:

Jim Walsh brings to HESA his extensive knowledge of nutrition and science and his entrepreneurial skills to the unique challenge of unlocking the mysteries of the Human Energy System. Considered one of the world’s leading experts on food, he is widely published and quoted in newspapers, journals, TV and radio. Walsh also serves as Chairman of the Board of Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate since 1992 and Intentional Chocolate since 2007. He serves on the Advisory Boards of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Spirituality and Wellness At The Chicago Theological Seminary and the Center for Creating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin. He is a member and co-founder of the Badger Angel Capital Network (BACN) assisting the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the University of Wisconsin in technology transfer and business start-ups. Walsh’s involvements are dedicated to the single objective of creating products that nourish both body and spirit to improve the quality of life for all beings.

At the Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival, Walsh will be offering free samples of intentional chocolate. A rich, dark chocolate which has been meditated over and imbued with good thoughts, prayers and blessings. Following the link above will lead you to the Intentional Chocolate website, and a wealth of further information.  If you are intrigued you may also want to visit Walsh’s blog: Intentional Chocolate.

I am very much interested in hearing what you think of this.  Please share your thoughts.

This was a paid post.  The active links were removed on 10.12.09

BFtP — The Box

Today’s, Blast From the Past, brought to you by: The Grownups Wanted Us Dead

The Box

When Mr. Jay realized the playground equipment wasn’t going to kill us, he came up with other devious plans for our demise. Now, some sympathy can be found for Mr. Jay’s motives for knocking us off. He had twelve kids. They all had the nasty habit of eating at least three times a day. Keeping them was probably expensive. Mr. Jay most likely wasn’t trying to kill all of us – just four or five of his own. We probably gave him fits when we inserted ourselves in the mix.

For instance, Mr. Jay almost killed Preacher, the eldest Kohl child. Clearly it was Preacher’s fault. He was always telling us how to do things quicker, faster, cooler or better.

Mr. Jay had given his kids a refrigerator box to sled on. Wait – I am getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about our sledding hill. Lacrosse Avenue, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, has a lovely quarter mile sweep down to Northwest Boulevard. During a heavy winter it is much too steep and slick for safe driving, so the hill is closed – heavy yellow caution signs cross it at both ends. These signs keep out cars, but kids with sleds can pop right under …. Oh, one more small note: Northwest Boulevard is a four-lane road now and the highway runs around downtown, but when I was a kid, Northwest Boulevard was the highway.

Anyway, back to Mr. Jay and his refrigerator box: he gave the dang thing to his kids and sent them out to sled on it. His excuse was that with 12 kids he couldn’t afford luxuries like real toys. In retrospect its clear that’s not the reason he gave his kids the box. You see, the box had neither breaks nor steering mechanisms.

Now what happens when you send a bunch of neighborhood kids out to sled is that the biggest kids – no matter what they brought to the sledding party – get all the best toys, and the little kids get what is left; in this case an old cardboard box. For the most part we’d pile on the box, six or seven little bodies at a time, the darn thing would slide a few feet and then stop. We’d scoot and grunt and wiggle, but it wouldn’t move.

Then Preacher came over. “Hey,” he said. “You gotta bend the front end of the box up so it doesn’t dig into the snow.” We tried his suggestion and managed to go six or seven feet before we stopped. Wow!

Preacher came back. “Don’t scatter out like that. Everybody sit in a straight line down the center of the box.” Okay, we think, his last suggestion worked. So instead of sitting in clusters we formed a straight line – and bent the front of the box. We slid ten feet.

Preacher came by again. “Hey guys,” he said. “Make your line tighter. Closer together. Sit inside each other’s legs. Put the smallest kids in the front and the biggest kids in the back.” (Yes, as an adult I now know there is a terrible flaw in what he just said but as a little kid: hey, the last two things he told us worked just fine. Besides, he was at least 14 years old – that had to make him one of the smartest people in our universe.}

So – tight, straight line, little kids in front, bend the front of the box – wahooo! – we made it most of the way down the hill. What a ride!

Puffing and panting we pulled our box back to the top of the hill. We were overjoyed – then Preacher came by. “You know,” he said. “With just a little more weight you could probably make it to the bottom of the hill.”

The bottom of the hill? We all looked at each other. We knew there was glory at the bottom of the hill. But where were we going to get the extra weight?

Roll call: Riding the box we had Stinker Jay, she always had a load in her pants; Sugar Jay, who ate sugar by the spoonfuls; the two Kohl girls, Sweet and Sour; the littlest two for the four Strong girls, Barbie and Bash; two boys from clear over on Emma Avenue, Friendly and Lonesome (they had their own hill and might have been safer in their own neighborhood); and me – that’s nine kids.

Nine small kids – there was room for a couple more on the box – but who? There weren’t anymore big-little kids in the neighborhood. There were little-little kids, too young to come out and play, and the big kids who’d already taken our toys and had no further use for us. We explained this to Preacher. He turned around and walked up the hill and got Flood Kohl. Now technically Flood Kohl was a big little kid, but we didn’t like to play with him because he had a tendency to get hurt and cry – hence the nickname, Flood.

Preacher came back leading his little brother Flood behind him. Preacher had us all line up on the box, littlest in front, biggest in the back – him, Preacher, being the biggest. And we’re off! Zoooooooooooooom!

Instantly the box did a 180. We were sailing down the hill – backwards! Our bodies were flying like the wind, but my mind somehow captured everything in slow motion. I don’t know who panicked first. I remember it as mass hysteria. I think it dawned on each of us at the exact same time that we were blindly headed for the highway.

The neighborhood flashed by: The school, the Wood Shop, Straw’s house, Spaulding’s house, Strong’s house, The Candy Store – next the highway and certain death. Stinker, the youngest and lightest child, managed to defy gravity and fight her way off the box. We watched her recede as the end of our lives drew nearer. I started to pray, asking God to stop us before some car did.

Before I could say, amen, a loud roaring filled my ears. A crushing weight pressed down upon my chest. A horrid stink filled my nostrils. We were dead, spread like jelly on the highway – I just knew it. Somebody was moaning piteously.

Moaning? Somebody was alive. And I could hear it, so I was alive, too! I tried to move. The crushing weight holding me down was about seven of my dearest friends. The loud roaring came from traffic on the highway – behind us! I tried to see, but we seemed to be stuck in some kind of a hole. The moaning was also coming from behind. Maybe some of us got run over, and some of us didn’t?

Suddenly Mr. Strong was there lifting kids up out of the pile. He was saying words I mustn’t repeat even as an adult for fear my big sister will get out her bar of soap (or her soap box). As I was lifted free I looked back. My prayers had been answered. God had stopped us just short of the highway.

Preacher (remembering this, one has to marvel at the miracle that Preacher really is a preacher today) had cause to not appreciate the miracle. God had stopped us with a stop sign. Preacher took the full force of the blow. Mr. Strong took him home – and then to the hospital – in the back of his truck.

Mr. Jay was very apologetic. Personally I think most of his sorrow was in not managing to off any of his own kids.

Oh – the horrible stench I smelled after we hit the pole? When Stinker bailed from the box she left a present behind. It completely ruined the box so we couldn’t take it back up the hill and try again.

When I got home Gram fixed me a hot bath, follwed by hot chocolate with marshmallows. As we sipped she told me that plastic garbage sacks make even better sleds than cardboard boxes. I was so excited to try out her suggestion I never gave another thought to breaks and steering mechanisms.

Today’s Blast From the Past

June 6th, 2006 – A Day in the Life

Starbucks Coffee

I order. “Mocha Frappacino, venti, please. Yes, put all the unhealthy stuff on it. Oh, and I’d like a banana muffin, too!” I casually extend my arm from the window with the Starbuck’s card held jauntily between my fingers. The kid at the window makes a grab for the card, misses it and the thing goes flying out of my hand and under my car. UNDER MY CAR.

I am dressed up: skirt, blouse, high-heels, and my hair is just so. I open my car door and look down. No card. I step out of the car and kneel down. Still I cannot see the card. Of course the heel of my shoe has caught on the hem of my skirt. I lose my balance and topple into the car, leaving a clean spot on the driver’s door. Luckily most of the grime has landed on my hands and my arms which — thank you, God — are wash and wear.

I step back into my car, put it in gear and backup about 12 inches. I might have backed up another two or three inches, but the fellow in the bright red SUV behind me was honking his horn and yelling, “Stop! Stop!” I am not sure why. There were still three or four inches between our bumpers. Maybe he thought I didn’t see him?

Anyway, I get out of my car again and there is my Starbuck’s card, just peeking from beneath the edge of my front bumper. I grab the card and turn to present it to the kid behind the drive-thru window. He says, “Keep it, Lady. This is on me.” Darn, I think as I’m driving away. I should have ordered two muffins.


June 6th, 2006 — The Grownups Wanted Us Dead

The Swing Set

The daily injury report from the swing set ranged from paltry half-inch blood blisters to gruesome compound fractures complete with protruding bone and gore. I suppose the swings themselves were not really dangerous – but, oh, the things we did with them!

Playground swings no longer seem to exist, so incase you’ve never seen one, here’s a description: ten foot high steel frame; two sets of tripod legs, between them spanned a four inch steel pipe; suspended from the pipe were pairs of heavy steel chains; each pair of chains was connected to a thick, black, rubber seat.

The Winton School swing set had four seats. Four seats – if you’re a kid you know that means at least a dozen kids can play on the set at once. But sometimes – sometimes someone would get greedy – he’d want a whole swing for himself. One kid I remember in particular who did not like to share the swing was my cousin, Rumble.

I don’t know why I always competed with Rumble; whenever I tried I always lost – spectacularly. For instance one day we left Gram’s house – Caution, Rumble, Angel, Smiley, Tattle and I – headed for the playground. Somebody called dibs on a swing, I don’t remember whom, but they were echoed by five other voices. We went from walking to rushing, to running and shoving in three seconds flat — because every child knows that calling dibs doesn’t mean a dang thing unless you can enforce the claim.

Caution was the eldest, had the longest legs, and naturally was the strongest runner. He was going to win. Tattle was the baby and she was going to win because we didn’t want to hear the whining and the crying (from the grownups) if she didn’t. That left four kids and two swings. Angel and Grin headed for one. Rumble and I headed for the other. I have no idea how the girls’ race went, but Rumble and I were neck and neck, arms outstretched, until we were just a few yards from the swing.

Now, I don’t know if it was because Rumble was taller and his arm a little longer than mine, or if he’d pulled just a millimeter ahead, but I realized his hand was going to grasp the chain just before mine could; so I did the only sensible thing – I jumped.

So what if Rumble had the chain? If my body occupied the seat, obviously the swing would be mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!

I launched myself into the air; arms outstretched, and flew like Wonder Woman. Guess what? Linda Carter I’m not. Rumble’s fingers wrapped around the chain and he pulled. The swing lurched drunkenly to the left and, instead of doing a spectacular swan dive into the seat of the swing, I did a beautiful belly-flop into the dirt and gravel beneath it.

Twice in my life I have had the wind knocked out of me. It is not an experience I recommend. However, if you have the great, good-fortune to have Rumble as a cousin you are truly blessed. He abandoned the swing immediately and came to stand over me – in fact, all of my wonderful cousins did – and they made such helpful suggestions; things like: “Breathe!” “Talk to me!” and, “Stop turning blue!”

Tattle asked, “Is she dying?”

If I had had the breath I would have answered, “Not until after I kill Rumble.”