Here We Go Again…

That may well be what some of you think about this post and frankly, my response is, it’s my blog, the subjects about which I write are important to me and I believe some of them are important in the larger scheme of life.  That said, there are three reasons leading up to my choice of topic today.  First of all, another woman in another nearby county is dead and her “boyfriend” is in jail awaiting charges.  Interestingly, a law enforcement officer commented on the “irony” of the situation because the murdered woman was recently publicly lauded for “her tireless advocacy on behalf of victims of domestic violence.”  Ironic?  Really?  That’s reason one.  The second reason is a conversation with a young woman I know, mother of two children under age three, whose significant other was arrested on a DV charge after punching holes in the walls and grabbing the woman by the throat.  Is this true?  I looked it up in the state court records just to be able to answer the doubters; yes the arrest occurred based on evidence.  Third, this issue has become personal.  In discussions this week I received comments like “Get over it,”  (from a woman, no less) and “Well, I didn’t see it,” from a male relative.  Really?  Not seeing an abuser in action means abuse didn’t take place and one should sit down and share a meal with said abuser, basically demeaning the experience of three victimized women, two of them children or at least under age during their experience?    

Do I need more reasons?  Are three enough?  I know this isn’t a pretty post; there’s no humor, nothing funny like chocolate bunnies without heads, but there’s very little humor in me as I write this.  I’m discouraged and disgusted and it’s once again time to stand up and speak out with all its ugliness.  Disregard, disrespect, dismissal, those darned D words that women experience all the time.  It’s even worse when life-altering occurrences have the D words applied.  

If you care enough to help, what can you do?  First of all, do NOT dismiss the experiences or minimize the effects even years later. It’s now known that women who’ve been mistreated – intimidated, called ugly names, had their possessions broken, walls and doors kicked in, pets abused – all these events leave their mark and many women experience symptoms of PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, triggered by something as simple as a spring breeze causing a door to slam shut, or observing a young couple in a grocery store and he calls her a vile name.  These incidents can bring back the ugliness in a heartbeat and are not easily gotten over; flashbacks are not something over which a person has control.  

Educate yourself so you don’t make hurtful comments or display a dismissive attitude.  And be willing to stand up and be counted; it’s not okay to condone abusive behavior through silence.  And pretending something ugly didn’t occur does not make it disappear.   It’s not a matter of lack of forgiveness or dwelling on past events.  Do you think people who’ve experienced this kind of ugliness really want to relive it?  Not on your life.  There are those of us who’ve chosen to turn ugliness into benefit for others.  Help me do that, please – support your local women’s shelters, donate your old cell phones and printer cartridges, volunteer at shelter events, advocate for victims whenever the opportunity presents itself, open your mouth, take a stand.  Thanks for listening with an open mind and heart…

 

 

 

 

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A Long Strange Trip…

Today’s post takes its title from an old Grateful Dead tune; many of you will recognize the phrase.  This past week has been an emotional roller coaster.  From the terror event at the Boston Marathon through its conclusion late yesterday and a horrific explosion in West, Texas, the national scene has been intense.  On a personal level, one of my dogs passed away, a favorite aunt is hospitalized and I’m struggling to get my head around the subject of my current research paper, due in two days.  Thanks to my dad I have the introduction handled, but just cannot get to the heart of my subject’s theology.  Additionally, the footnote function on both my computers doesn’t function.  Must be lost in cyberspace or something, but how strange? to have it fail on two computers…  Another thanks here to my niece, Marissa Rae, who’s saved my technical behind more than once; in a late-night phone session she came up with a backdoor way to create footnotes.  I get the whole idea of protecting “intellectual property” and I agree.  What I don’t get is the need to have to numerous styles of formatting, one for the sciences,  another for humanities and it all seems like so much process for the sake of process or rules for the sake of rules, of which we all know I am not a fan.  

More to the strange trip of this past week – my Shadow died, Soleil is lonely and confused, there’s mud absolutely everywhere and huge tracks through the yard from a semi trying to back in.  It’s still snowing randomly and not very warm.  Most of the yard is like quicksand and shows very little signs of Spring life.  I sound whiny, don’t I?  Having read theTough Mudder pledge earlier today, one of the pledge points is about not whining – little kids whine.  

You might ask why I’d be reading the Tough Mudder Pledge – at this very moment one of my daughters is participating in the event.  I was fine until I actually read some of the obstacles. Now I’m not a worrier, don’t believe in it as a rule, but sliding on her belly beneath live electrical wires?  pulling herself through narrow pipes filled with mud?  Still not worrying; I prefer to think of the enormous challenge and am filled with admiration at the magnitude of the undertaking. Besides, as was said in a conversation with my cousin, Jane, this morning worrying doesn’t do a thing, changes nothing.  So I put her and her husband in God’s hands – I’m thinking He’s proud of His children’s use of their physical prowess, a gift.  

Yet another strange feeling for this mother is to have her daughters flying in separate directions this weekend.  One already noted, the other off to a fun weekend with friends – confident and capable to grab life and participate.  All the same, another piece of the long, strange trip – we are so very far apart (physically)  and I’m not convinced that I like it…

That said, world events – tragedies in Boston and West, Texas, an earthquake in China, personal setbacks small in comparison, and I’m still feeling like this has been a strange trip of a week, one not over till that research paper is submitted and two tests are taken.  By then daughters will back in their respective cities, texts will have been exchanged letting this mother know that all is well in our sphere of the world and life goes on…

The words of the Grateful Dead resonate with me right now, but I’ve gotta believe that there’s a plan and all things will be used to fulfill it, one way or another and it does not have to make sense to us now.  For those of you who may not share my worldview, think if we knew the future, knew how our lives would unfold.  Would that be helpful?  I’m not certain any of us would be happy with that foreknowledge.   I’m content to leave it in my Father’s hands and trust that the grand design has been written by a greater Mind than mine. 

In the end, the weeks ahead will return to normal, everything in its time, and the world will keep turning.  Strange may become a tool for personal growth and we may develop a new normal.  Either way, we’re here for the duration and I’m thankful for all of you in my life!  Be blessed…

 

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Happy Anniversary to ME!! 2013 Edition

Yes, indeed, I’m one fortunate woman, sharing my story and my joy with y’all. Seven years ago today, Easter Sunday that year, my visiting daughters stuffed me into my truck and headed to the small, local hospital, where doctors were stunned by what they found.  A fairly large mass in my head, so big that the doc, in explaining it, said, “I cannot believe you can walk with the size of that thing growing in your head.”  I was shipped off to Green Bay, interrupted everybody’s Easter dinners and two days later, a neurosurgeon and his team took a buzz saw to my skull and  a scalpel to my brain.  Later he visited me in the night and delivered the news that the tumor they removed was malignant and I had a fairly aggressive form of brain cancer.  Waiting daughters, family and friends had already been given information and the stats were not great; but the clinical world leaves out a huge piece and that piece is a fairly major game-changer. My Father had plans and as He says in His Book, (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)  “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Those plans included handling that tumor and seven years  later, despite enormous odds and severe statistics, I surely do have hope and a future and I’m on a mission to share the blessings and the joy!  This is most bittersweet today because in in a couple hours I will head to the funeral of a friend who lost his five and-a-half-year battle with the same cancer I had, just a week ago. Yet here I am well and  most content

I’ve wondered, sometimes aloud, during my friend’s ordeal, asked the perennial questions about the mind of God when He wrote the story so long ago. Why are some folks here for longer or shorter durations than others? What’s the plan?  Those are unanswerable questions in this temporal world, but I still believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God, that did, indeed, write the story before the world began, as we first talked about seven years ago when I was diagnosed.  

So my friend is gone and his family mourns. Yet I know on this cold, gloomy, April morning that my Heavenly Father has the plan firmly in hand and that despite another family’s loss, they would not begrudge me the celebration of this anniversary in my life.  In a few hours I’ll attend the funeral, but in this pre-dawn moment and later in conversations with friends and family, I will celebrate that I am here, that for whatever reason, God’s still got me on my feet. I am most grateful to be here with loved ones and to play my part in the story, hopefully with grace and dignity.  

As I say often in these pages, hold your loved ones close; tell them regularly and often how very valuable they are to you and share with me, please, my joy that seven years later I am alive and well!  Be blessed….

 

 

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Bunnies With no Heads? 2013 Edition

Today’s post is a rerun and  a favorite story of ours.  It’s all  true; absolutely, I really did the deed. So without further ado, here you go – enjoy and be blessed!

Do not be dismayed, this post will give you hope and encouragement,  I promise :) As is often mentioned in these pages, I’m a traditionalist;  I believe tradition is the glue that binds us together.  Today I’ll tell a quick story about a mother who used to buy solid chocolate Easter bunnies, the big ones, $16 each, the best for her daughters, year after year.  Tradition was that early Easter morning, the mother would hide the colored eggs and then the baskets.  While the girls were hunting for eggs and baskets, the mother was cooking a special breakfast, one for each of her daughters as they had different favorites.

This particular year, the night before Easter as the mother was preparing the baskets, the temptation of those fabulous bunnies overcame her.  Just one little nibble, the mother thought, who’ll notice?  Y’all know how this goes – the edges had to be evened out and smooth so one nibble followed another and all of a sudden one ear was gone – Horror!  What could the mother do?  She had to do the same to the other bunny; it would never work to give one daughter an intact bunny and the other, one with a missing ear.  On with the “evening-up” process.  Now two bunnies without ears, very uneven, more work to do;

Holy cats, what now?  May as well even things up, you know, neaten it up a bit.  One head gone, on to the next – gotta be fair.   Enough already.  So the mother tucked each bunny back into its little bag and tied them shut with the original ribbons, pink and purple.  It’s Saturday night, Easter eve, no replacing these special bunnies.  Early Easter morning, the mother went about her business, then woke the daughters to begin their hunt, while the mother went into the kitchen to begin cooking those special breakfasts, didn’t miss a beat….

All of a sudden – horrified screams.  The girls had discovered their headless bunnies in their otherwise beautiful baskets.  And they had no doubt as to the culprit.  Good thing they were of the age to know that the Easter Bunny really was the mother.  The thing that I remember most clearly was Meghan’s absolute indignation that there were teeth marks in her bunny – eeeuuuu!! To use FDR’s words spoken years ago, this was a day that ” will live in infamy.”  And it has; brought up every Easter and shared with love and much laughter.

I promised encouragement?  You bet.  My friends, regardless what you may be thinking about your shortcomings, faults or misses, remember the mother who ate the heads off the bunnies and laugh!  You haven’t done that yet, have you?  There is HOPE and there is GRACE.  My daughters love me, forgave me and we share another precious memory.

Easter is a special day, not a present-giving holiday, at least not in our home, but without it, we would all be hopeless.  Remember, because of what occurred on that first Easter morning, there is abundant hope and grace for all of us.  I hope you’ve found or find yours in our risen Lord.  All the blessings of Easter to each and every one of you!

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Happy Birthday, Dan !!

Last year on March 17th, I published a post celebrating my cousin, Daniel J. Meyer, on his birthday.  It was the first time I had ever posted to or about a male; I believe most of my readers are women, but it was appropriate then and it is again today.  Take a moment, please, and read The List of Dan.  As you see, the list was comprised of 21 things that Dan has done for me over the years, ranging from your basic considerate act to the large-scale garage repair with bats and mice along the way.  What a guy!!  This year brought similar items for the list, more pet care so I could travel, more computer rescues and a LeeAnn rescue as well.  That’s right.  On February 12th, while trying to salt/sand a path across the icy driveway to the garage, I fell and took a fairly good smack to the back of my head.  I got to a phone and once again, Dan to the rescue.  First thing I remember is sitting on the wonderful heated passenger seat of his car and we were on our way to the hospital in GB, where he answered questions, kept my family informed and stayed till I was admitted.   Some day I’ll ask for the details, but for now, I am once again most thankful!!  

The official List of Dan has reached 22; I’m fairly certain that it will continue to grow 🙂  If you have a Dan Meyer in your life, celebrate him or her and join me, please, in a song for Dan – HAPPY BIRTHDAY and thank you for everything!!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY HATTIE !! 2012

Today’s post is a rerun, first posted several years ago in honor of my paternal grandmother. On top of that, it’s a day late. From what I remember of her, she would be happy to have the greetings and tardiness would be overlooked with that smile I remember so well.  Her birthday was November 10, same as Martin Luther.  This year I decided purposefully to post on November 11, and will likely continue this into the future.  One day late every year and I’m sure she’s smiling.  Ninety-five years ago, today, the day after her birthday, she gave birth to twin sons – Elmer and Alfred, my dad’s brothers.  Uncle Elm went on to marry my Auntie Arlene, spoken of often in these pages and together they raised their family here at The Homestead.

Hattie – a name you don’t hear too much anymore, in this case short for Henrietta, my Grandma Buelow who, if she was still with us, would have been 123 years old yesterday.  She passed away at age 85 and played an important role here at Her Father’s Homestead. She came as a young bride in 1907, when she married my grandfather, Henry Buelow. That’s right, Henrietta Jantz married Henry Buelow, as you can see in their wedding invitation.
 

That’s where I first saw her referred to as Hattie. She came to the Homestead and built a life here, raised ten children, seven boys and three girls, all born in this wonderful old house I call home. She lived here until she passed away, cared for in her later years by her son, my Uncle Elmer and his wife, my favorite Auntie Arlene, well known to readers of this blog.

 

We saw Grandma often, as on any given Sunday we’d drive to what my Dad called The Farm, the place he grew up along with his brothers and sisters, the children of Her Father’s Homestead, and the place we visited with those aunts, uncles and cousins, because this was where Grandma lived. So many memories… A white-haired Grandma, saying grace in German and smiling; I remember her smile just like you see in the picture in the barnyard with my Grandpa, who passed away long before I was born.

                                                                                        

 

That photo is a bit unusual for its time in that it shows what’s today called a public display of affection – Grandpa has his arm around her, she’s snuggled into him and is holding his hand and she’s smiling. In the background of that photo, you see her brother-in-law, the gentleman with the hat, and also her son, my Uncle Elmer, hatchet in hand if you look closely, whom I remember with a great smile and quick to laugh, who’d be 95, today, if he was still with us.

 

                                                                                                                        Hattie’s happy

 The last photo, again a smiling Grandma, in front of what may be the old lilac tree at the corner of the house where I live.

                                         My smiling Grandma Buelow

I said a long time ago that this old Homestead of mine would tell a story, herstory, I called it. And that it has, the story of Her Father’s Homestead told through my eyes with gratitude for the women who came before me – the great grandmother I didn’t know, Grandma Buelow, Auntie Arlene and now me. Happy belated birthday, Hattie! So many memories…

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MALALA UPDATE

Ten days ago I wrote about a 14 year-old Pakistani girl named Malala, who’d been shot in the head by a Taliban would-be assassin. Why? Apparently her activism on behalf of educating girls in her country is threatening to the Taliban.  She survived the attack and is being treated in the UK.  Not only did she survive, but she’s doing well, according to a Time NewsFeed today.  She’s walked “with a little help” and the British doctors are optimistic for minimal brain damage!  According to that same article, Malala reportedly asked for her schoolbooks so she could pick up on her studies in order to be able to take her finals.  Fourteen years old – committed, passionate, courageous – I am in awe of the power of the human spirit as exemplified by one small girl.  I encourage you again, as in the original post, to pray for her recovery and to use your voice, wherever possible, to make life better for women everywhere.  Think I’m overreacting?

Four women were murdered in my state this week, one who had recently gotten a restraining order against her husband, the alleged murderer, and four more were injured.  Brookfield, WI, is not on foreign soil, my friends, it’s only a couple hours away.

So we rejoice with Malala and her family and pray for continued recovery.  We also pray for a culture that holds the Lord’s daughters in such low regard, in whatever part of the world that exists.  Blessings to all!

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A Special Woman 2012 Update

This post is an update of the birthday post published last year in honor of my favorite Auntie Arlene, whose birthday is today.  Much of the post is not new, just made current.  I spoke with her an hour ago, wished her well, told her I loved her and we’ll get together in the next couple days.  Here is the post:

Today my Auntie Arlene turns 94.   Regular readers have heard of her and seen pictures on this site before.  What makes her so special?  For one thing, it is through her that I own the Homestead.  She married one of my dad’s brothers, Uncle Elmer ( a twin), years ago and they raised their family here at the Homestead.    I spend time with her as often as both our schedules permit.  That’s right, both our schedules. 

     Auntie Arlene has a full life, full of family and friends and as of just recently, twin great grandchildren, a boy and a girl, that she got to hold yesterday!!  The newest additions bring the grand total to 13 great grandchildren.  Arlene Buelow, daughter of a twin, wife of a twin, mother of twins, is now great grandmother of twins – how cool is that?? 

She loves pro football, especially the Packers and she knows stats, more than I do.  She challenges her mind against the contestants on certain television game shows,  remains current on civic and community events and continues to engage in lively debates;  for the two of us sharing a meal  (my lunch is her dinner and my dinner is her supper)  topics range from people to politics to religion.  She’s an encourager, a woman of strength and conviction – always ready to go to prayer over whatever the need may be.  And she lets you know she’s praying for you!

      I’m thrilled to be part of her life and to have her as part of mine.  We have a conversation or visit as close to every week as possible.  When I’m in school she’s pulling for me all the time, especially when I appear tired or frustrated; I know I’m in her prayers because she tells me so.  She knows about my health, my children, my life.  At 94 she’s seen a lot and has a beautiful, serene wisdom and grace.  She’s quick to share a chuckle and loves to show you the photographs of her expanding family.

     We’re sharing lunch/dinner in a couple days.  I’ll take some new pictures of us and maybe post one here, but regardless, to me, Auntie Arlene is perennially as young and happy as she appears in that old photograph below on the right.  The photo on the leftt was “re-staged” last summer and we had a grand time doing so  🙂  Our newest fun time together is for me to bring my laptop and we go online together.  She gets a giggle out of seeing and reading the posts, understanding that this is on the World Wide Web and anyone in the world with an Internet connection can see and read about us.  We’ve gone to FaceBook and looked at lots of photos and she knows how Internet commerce is conducted.  I just called her again to do a fact check on her dad being a twin and told her that when we’re together next week, I’ll bring my laptop and show her this post; we laughed together.

                Happy94th Birthday, Auntie Arlene,  you are so loved!!  

 

 



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A Noteworthy Day Addendum

I do not believe I’ve ever done this before, but then my mom is a fairly new blog subscriber, and that should explain what’s to come. Having located the “Noteworthy” post yesterday, she called with a few corrections, or should I say clarifications, which I asked her to email rather than just tell me over the phone.  Now, I could  list them, but why not copy/paste Mom’s email and give the voice to her?  I think that would be more fun.  Keeping in mind that I asked for this email, here goes and please note, the italics are mine:

“FYI—

We did not have the plumbing in until during the summer after we got back to WI.  We lived on the farm in the home with Grandma, Aunt Arlene, Uncle Elmer, Jane, Janice and Roger.  The twins were 11 years old.  Art Gast and his father (another story) put in the bathroom, etc.  It took us 8 days to travel to Europe on the SS America.  Dad had the church service on the boat on the way there.  Billy Graham had the service on the SS United States on the return voyage.  We did not fly all the way home, just from Frankfurt to Paris.  We spent several days in Paris.  I think that’s when you acquired your love for the city and its language (I was a precocious baby).  We took the boat train to Le Havre, then boarded the ship.  Our return trip to NY took only 4 days.  However, you were correct in saying that you were the youngest baby to fly Lufthansa after it was reorganized after WW2.”

There we have it, straight from the source.  I’m pleased to post these clarifications and make sure the information you find in these pages is accurate!  And now y’all know where my French fascination may have originated.  Big smile here, Amusez-vous avec ça!! 🙂

Is there any chance for me to pull a lesson out of today’s efforts?  Of course, you know I will find one.  The lesson is that we all make mistakes sometimes, some more public than others 🙂 However there is grace enough for any of us, as the David Crowder Band sings; just follow the link and sing along.  Au revoir…

 

 


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Happy Birthday, Mom!!

Mom, 3.24.12

Regular readers know I favor Special Days.  Often they are birthdays of people important to me.  And that is the subject of the day – the birthday of a woman about whom I have rarely posted, other than teasing about the habits I believe I inherited from her.  Today, my mom, Carola Esther Buelow, is 81.  As you can see from this picture taken two months ago at my daughter’s wedding, she doesn’t look like 81.  She’s active, vibrant and works virtually full-time teaching piano, which she loves.  She also works side-by-side in the church with my dad.

I called Mom the other morning to get some background for this post; I rediscovered and learned some interesting facts.  I’ve always known her to be an intelligent woman; graduating summa cum laude (meaning “with highest honors”) from University of Rhode Island as a member of Phi Kappa Phi, an academic fraternity, on June 8, 1953, the day on which she also became engaged to my dad.

I used to have a hard time picturing her as a sorority gal, which she was – Alpha Delta Pi – until I learned more. Between my daughters, Mom and me, there’s a joke that “Grandma smoked cigarettes and dated sailors,”  in her younger years. That’s a fact that I post here with her permission.  It makes us all giggle, probably shared for the first time on one of our ten annual four-day weekends in Chicago, a trip that holds many special memories. Just look at her photo and see the twinkle in her eyes.

This is a woman who has taught dozens of people, young and old, to make music; I know many of her students and those families cherish their relationship with her, many of them multigenerational.  She’s a teacher at heart, even taught French at the Lutheran elementary school my brothers and I attended. 

This is a woman ahead of her time.  After marrying my dad, she moved with him halfway across the country and spent the summer on the farm, yes, right here at Her Father’s Homestead, where as a “wedding gift” Grandma Buelow had installed indoor plumbing.  The city girl, an only child, lived at The Homestead for three months before traveling  by steamer across the ocean to Germany in a day when cross-country and trans-oceanic travel was not common, leaving her parents on the East Coast.  And in Germany, far from family and friends, she gave birth to me, when fathers weren’t allowed in the delivery room;  in fact he was sent away. So she was in a foreign country with limited knowledge of the language having a baby – ME!  

I’ve told my daughters often, usually referring to the Buelow side of our family, that we come from hardy stock.  Writing these words has given new meaning to that picture.  My mom, known as Grandma or Gma to my children and CEB in my own writing, is as hardy as the best of them.  I am most happy to share her with you today.  Bonne Anniversaire, ma mére.  I love YOU!

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