Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cookie Jars

Well, I have good news! Martin seems to be doing better. His doctor put him on steroids again, and when he is on steroids, he does not have as much trouble breathing or sleeping. Funny thing about steroids though, they make you hungry. Martin is hungry all the time! For the first time in our 39 years together, he is out-eating me. His tummy is showing the results of this noshing, but I don't care. It is good to see him get some relief. He is so sweet too-let me tell you what he did for me. As many of you know, I love cookie jars. I truly do, I don't know why, but I always have. After Bobbie Jo died, my cookie jar craving came roaring to the fore. It was perhaps the way I dealt with my grief, or at least I think that is what happened. At first, a cookie jar here, a cookie jar there, each time reminding me of Bobbie Jo-and I found such comfort as each cookie jar took it's place in my home. Then, the cookie jar habit sneaked up from behind and I began to look for them everywhere. Cartoon characters, kitchen items such as apples, strawberries, cakes, and other jars that brought back wonderful lifetime memories. I found one that was an old chevy with a flat boat tied to the top of it. In the boat was fishing gear, and a picnic basket was tied to the back. Believe it or not, we actually tied a boat to the top of a chevy more than once, and had a cooler tied to the bumper! It was a great to take the family fishing. Then, I found a New York Taxi, that reminded me of the taxis we used to ride in when Martin first went into the service. There are so many, such as the bubble gum machine cookie jar, the sundae cookie jar, the "cookie cola" which looks like a large bottle of coke. My sweet nephew bought me a school bus and a cactus, both of which represent a part of my life. Martin finally told me he had had enough of the "cookie jar craze" and it had to stop! I agreed to try, but it was so hard. There were cookie jars to be found everywhere! Then one day, I came home from a trip with Becky, and what do you think I found? Martin had found a cookie jar that he felt I could not do without. He was so tickled to have found it at a garage sale, and put it in the living room to surprise me. Next thing I knew, he was on ebay, and with great excitement, showed me many cookie jars that he really liked. We haunted the thrift stores for cookie jar treasures, getting some great bargains. My dear sister in law found some as well, and other loved ones gave precious cookie jars that they had bought on a trip, or had seen at a garage sale. Each of these cookie jars are precious to me, each jar gives me great pleasure when I look at them. Well, as you can imagine, I soon ran out of room for my treasures. Dear Martin bought some curio cabinets at a garage sale to display them, but that didn't last long. He then custom made a 14ft long shelf to match the cabinets and put it on top of them, so that it went all across the room and above the large window in the dining room. He had already made a beautiful shelf with a railing to go above the bay window in the kitchen, and I had put some of the cookie jars on a bakers rack. Some of the cookie jars, such as the cars, the fishing ones, the gas pump, and other "manly" representations went out into Martin's "man cave" on a long shelf above the pool table. Like I said, each jar has a special meaning. My grandchildren and other loved ones who love to look at my cookie jars have often remarked, "Gosh Nana, what are you going to do with all of them?" I got the wonderful idea to have each child choose a cookie jar for a wedding gift for when they later marry. They love that idea, and I am covered on wedding gifts for a very long time. So, to get back to the statement, Martin is so sweet, let me tell you what he did for me. I found that cookie jars were beginning to overtake us. My dining room table was becoming covered, and I found I had to juggle the space in the curio cabinets to store them all. I had recently been given a really fabulous squirrel on a stump and had found a "thinking puppy" jar. Although I love each jar, I don't like to have them just placed helter-skelter because I want them displayed to their best and I don't want them to get broken. Yesterday, he called me out to the garage. To my extreme delight, he had built yet another 13 ft shelf for my cookie jars. We put it up over the window in the living room, and were able to place 23 lovely jars on it. There is even space for two more, but I will see what happens. See, Martin gets it. He knows that the cookie jars are more than just "dust collectors". I get such joy when company comes and takes pleasure in recognizing a jar that their grandmother had, or a cartoon character from their childhood. It is wonderful just to sit and look at the cookie jars, and bask in the memories that each represent. Please come and see for yourself. I think you too, will enjoy visiting my cookie jars. I am not as compulsive as I once was over cookie jars, indeed, the ones I get now are gifts or something really special. On mother's day, Martin gave me a lovely rhineocerous covered with flowers. He paid a couple of dollars for it in a thrift store, but to his surprise and my delight, I had the fabulous opportunity to tell him that in the collectors book of cookie jars, the price should have been over 200.00! I really love that rhineocerous! Well, you may wonder how I can have a cookie jar craving and still be an Ant. Like I said, I have really cut down on buying them, and they seem to come from others who know how much I love them. There is one cookie jar and he is called "Smiley Pig". He is very collectable, and VERY expensive. He was very popular during the first part of the 20th century. Usually he is priced starting in the mid-200.oo range going all the way up to a few thousands of dollars. I will find him somewhere like a thrift store or garage sale, and it will be all the sweeter because I will pay very little for him. You wait and see if I don't! Meanwhile, I will love and enjoy all the cookie jars I have now, and surround myself in cookie jar joy. Oh, did I tell you how many I have? Last count, 186! Love, Nanasee

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Catching up!

First of all, let me catch up on some of the recent happenings. Martin continues to be ill, but is trying so hard to live life to the fullest in spite of it. It breaks my heart to see him cough so hard, to be bent over double trying to catch his breath. At night he wakes in a panic thinking he is going to smother. On those nights, I wake too, and sit and talk with him and try to calm him down. Sometimes I rub his feet, get him some water and tell him funny stories. We always pray together. Sometimes I just listen to him as he pours out his fears for the future. I just want to snatch him up and remind him that in spite of difficulties in the past, we have always had a wonderful life and that is not going to change now! He is so frightened, but in spite of that, he puts on a brave demeanor for the family and especially the grandchildren. I am the only one that is allowed to see into his heart, to feel his anguish. He is afraid that he will let me down. He is so worried about his grandchildren, that maybe he won't be able to be the PaPa that they know and love. For 39 years, I have had the privilege of looking into his grass-green eyes, most of the time seeing humor, sometimes anger and frustration, on two occasions the unconquerable grief, but never this kind of fear. Those green eyes that I love so much are touched with thoughts of defeat. I will not let defeat overcome my Honeybun, I will stand strong and be the reason that he will once again have mostly humor shining from those beloved eyes.
Martin wants to return to his job. At this time, we are having difficulty getting them to accomodate him so that he can return. The college should clean up the mold that is the problem. It is making him sick when he is at work. I will not give up on this either. He has been an exemplary instructor for almost 19 years, and the students are constantly asking when he will return. He deserves to be able to return to what he loves, and that is teaching automotive instruction to young people that want to be in his class. Right now, he is finally on summer break, but that will end in August, and hopefully be then, the college will have made some accomodations so that he can return to his job. Then again, there is me. As a friend of mine who has worked for the college for over 25 years said to me, "They don't know who they are dealing with, do they?" My answer to that is, "No, they don't". I am certainly not going to roll over and let them take something precious from my Honeybun. Besides, I enjoy knowing that there will once again be a paycheck coming in!
Another reason that I have been lax in writing, is that I had a mini-stroke 2 weeks ago. At this time, we still do not know why, but tests are pending. It happened while Martin and I were reading our scriptures. I had been having a headache for four days prior, and the evening before when I went to walmart to get some jewlery supplies I had difficulty seeing the tiny items in the packages. My vision was out of kilter, but I thought that it was because of my new glasses, (I have had them for 6 weeks, and this was the first time I had difficulty seeing). I didn't think a thing about it, but was more frustrated that I couldn't clearly see the items I needed. Well, while reading aloud, it became harder to see the letters, and my face on the left started to feel heavy and kind of numb. Then the feeling went to my shoulder, and down my left arm. I thought that it was something that would pass, but Martin remarked that my left side of my face looked funny. I asked him for some water, but could not swallow and the water ran out of my mouth. Martin called 911 and when they got to me, I was immediatly told that I was having a stroke. I wanted to argue with them, but my words were slurred. After about 40 minutes, the symptoms began to receed. At the hospital,they rushed me through tests and blood work, and found that my heart was fine. The final diagnosis was a Temporary Ischemic Attack, or a mini-stroke. I stayed one day in the hospital, where I was treated like a queen, and came home with orders to rest for two weeks. I received some lovely flowers and lots of love from so many. The only thing left of my very scary adventure is that my left arm is weak and still has an ache to it and embarrassingly, I have a little problem with drooling. (I bought some pretty hankies for that).
I am better able to type now, so hopefully, I will not be so remiss at writing.
Learning to become an Ant has been the most enlightening experience of my whole life. Everything has changed, but I swear, to the better. I will relate more of that to you in my next blog. I love writing, it is so helpful to me, just as when Bobbie Jo was so sick, and gives me an outlet for my thoughts. Thanks for sharing that with me. Love, Nanasee

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Ant

Today is Easter Eve-It was such a wonderful day! First of all, there was the annual Easter egg hunt in the city park. As I sat in the shade in my comfy chair, I looked at the hundreds of hopeful children, all lined and ready to tackle the field strewn with thousands of colorful plastic eggs, each egg filled with a surprise of some kind. I clearly remembered the excitement of looking for the colored hard-boiled eggs that my parents "hid" in the grass and yard when I was a very little girl. I hate hard boiled eggs, but that didn't matter, I loved to find them. Then there were the awful sugar coated marshmallow eggs-wrapped in cellophane glittering and peeking out between the blades of grass and the leaves of the bushes. I hated them too-but I loved to find them! Of course there was always the bowl of jelly beans, and most hated of all were the black ones. Easter was always redeemed for me by finding the large chocolate Easter Bunny in a basket lined with green plastic grass. I would always start by biting off it's ears and working my way down to the tail, the last, precious bite. My brother has been a diabetic all of his life, and in spite of that, he would get a chocolate bunny too. He couldn't eat his, but to make sure I didn't either, he would hide it somewhere in the house. This was Easter #2 for me, because I didn't stop until I found that chocolate bunny and chewed his ears off too. To think of it, George always hid his candy so that I couln't have any of it- Halloween candy, Christmas candy, Valentine candy and Easter candy. He was quite ingenious, but candy was involved, so I was more ingenious. Sometimes I would find his stash, eat the candy and wrap the paper around some play-dough to make it look like it was still there. Other times I would just blatantly leave the empty wrappers just so I could show him that it was useless to try to keep it from me. Worst of all I suppose, I would leave the black jelly beans and take the rest- gosh, I was so awful! But today, watching the kids waiting impatiently to begin the hunt, I once again felt the rush of anticipation, and the joy of Easter. The clock turned back and once again, I was in the middle of Easter magic. The sun was so warm, the air so sweet with honeysuckle and the children dressed in such lovely spring colors. The parents were all the same, cameras at the ready, coaxing a smile and trying so hard not to miss a single moment of the magic. I let the feelings wash over and around me, reveled in the happiness and basked in the thought that life was so very wonderful. For a while, all thoughts of horrible management at work, the lack of income, the worry of the future, all of that was relegated to the "it doesn't matter right now" bin. I guess too, I loved the realization that there was no cost to any of it, at least not for me. Perhaps I enjoyed the hunt this year, because I was not concerned with how I was going to impress my grandkids, or how much I was going to spend to make them happy. I was not concerned with bigger baskets, bigger bunnies, more, more more! I was free to enjoy the moment. And I did.
My sweet nieces, their Mama, my loving niece Gail, and my Sister-in-law came to share the day with me. I look forward to having them each time we have a holiday. Their love is so special, and it is an honor to be something special to them. Along with the 7 of them, there was Eli, Jacob, Kayliegh, Jared, Julian, Ryker, KC, Jenna, and all of the parents. I found myself with a houseful of wonderful. I could not have the blow-out celebration that I had every year, instead, we had a simple Easter Party complete with laughter and excitement. We played games, hunted eggs, ate cookies, candy, (purchased half-price the day after Valentines day at Walmart and saved for this occasion)corn dogs, french fries and drank pink lemonade. All of the food came from my food storage- I was so proud of myself. I used king-sized pillow cases for the sack races, and potatoes from the bin for the potato race. "Prizes" came from the dollar store. Everyone had such a wonderful time.
In between the Easter Egg hunt at the park and the party at my house, we all went along the nature trails and picked wild blackberries, or as we know them, Dewberries. They are coming in season now, and it looks like I will have an abundance of berries for my jellymaking this year. For the next month, we will pick berries each day, storing them in the freezer until they run out, and then the jellymaking will begin. I will make wonderful wild dewberry jelly- a true treasure of nature! I hope to make quite a bit so that I can sell some to help out with our finances. While we were out along the trails, we saw several wonders. First of all, the trails go along a bayou, and in the bayou are snakes, alligators, turtles, fish and lots of birds. Today, we saw a small alligator and a very large snake swimming in the water. The turtles were sunning themselves, but would dart back into the water when they saw us. Up on a hill, we saw a doe and a baby deer, watching us carefully, but not spooking away. We got a good long look at them, and they eventually blended back into the woods. There were a couple of cranes, some redbirds, lots of black birds and regular birds. All of this less than a half mile from my door! Once again, I was filled with the goodness of Heavenly Father's bounty and the beauty of nature. As we continued on, walking and picking, I lost track of time, and the girls and I just kept filling our bucket with fat blackberries. Every now and then, an especially chubby berry found it's way into my mouth, and I savored the sweet tangy taste of a wild berry. The wind was brisk and cooling, but that hid the heat of the day and the effect of the rays of the sun. After a while, as I was picking and enjoying the experience with the girls, I stood up with a handful of berries and to my surprise, I saw Sissy striding along the back trails where we were with Eli and Jacob in tow. I smiled and waved, so tickled to see them and wanting to show them the bountious harvest of berries we had picked. I should have known that something was up. The next thing I heard was, "Mother! Don't you grin at me like that! What do you think you are doing out in the hot sun, sweating and getting all red! Have you lost your mind? No, I don't want to see those stupid berries, do you think berries are worth getting heat stroke?!! Where is your hat? Do you know how long you have been out here? I swear, you don't ever think about the consequences sometimes. If you fall out, who's going to get you back home? Now, turn around and go home!! Now! No, don't worry about everyone else, they are young and HEALTHY, and will be just fine. Wait till I tell my daddy about this!" The situation hit me with such humor, that I began to laugh while I made my way back home, carrying a bucket of berries, two cans of soda, a box of crackers that we forgot to feed to the turtles and leading the two littlest children. I guess things have turned around a bit! I felt once again like I did long ago, when I would lose track of time and wander far away because I was having such a good time. My worried Grandmother would come looking for me and chastise me for not being more thoughtful and giving her such concern. I realized that we had come about 2 miles along the trails, and boy, that seemed quite a trip back, but my heart was full of love for my bossy daughter who had taken the time to come and look for her Mama. I will give her the first jar of jelly, just because she took the time to care. Later, she assured me that she would not tell "daddy" so that I would not get in trouble with him. Like I said, it seems the roles are reversed!
So, today was wonderful. An Easter egg hunt, a berry picking excursion with lots of wonderful sites and lots of berries too, and an Easter party for everyone. A perfect day with no thought of expense, because I didn't have much money to expend. For some reason, this year was so much more enjoyable for me-probably because I experienced the day so very differently than in many years past. I hope this is a portent of the future, the life of an Ant, experiencing life with all of it's fullness. I love being an Ant, I love the adventure and rewards that come from this life changing
experience. I may never again have money to "blow", but I treasure more, the ability and challenge of making do with what I have. And surprisingly, I have more than I ever realized! All I have to do is look around-believe me, life in all it's joy surrounds me. Love, Nanasee

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Well loved ones, I have been soooo busy trying to cope with this situation! I do have some good news though, I have finally had an epiphany! For all these months, I have been begging Heavenly Father to do something to help us get through everything, and praying for protection for our benefits and our income. Just thinking about losing Martin's job makes me sick! He hasn't worked in over 2 weeks, actually 3 weeks- prior to that only a week here and a day there due to having to miss because of illness, but is still not terminated, so that is a huge blessing! Where is the money coming from? Well, I have a small check each month, Becky and Joe are paying the light bill and getting groceries, Sissy is paying me to watch the boys and Martin has had a "honey-do" or two. We have our food storage, and believe me, being an Ant has been most beneficial. So, here it is, the 20th of April, and this was supposed to be resolved January 4th! In all that time, Martin has maybe worked a total of 3 -4 weeks, but still, the blessings keep coming. I have cried enough tears to float the Queen Mary- mostly because I feel sorry for myself (what a baby!). Like I said, finally, I have my head on straight. I am blessed to teach a Sunday school class each week, and that is one of the highlights of my week. The kids I teach are 12 and 13 years old, and could be a typical teen aged nightmare, but are the sweetest kids in the world. I realize each week, as I see their trusting faces, that everything I say is taken very seriously by them. I am an example to them, and would never do anything to let them down. Matter of fact, recently, the thought of my responsibility to those kids was a major reason that I didn't do something very stupid. A couple of weeks ago, I took yet some more forms to be signed in regard to Martin's situation. Getting back in the car, I looked at Martin, and burst out in tears. I couldn't say exactly what turned on the faucet, but I do know that I could not turn it off. It was not a screaming crying fit, but more like a "snuffle, snuffle, and sniffle" crying episode. I just could not turn it off. Then, a thought came to me, slamming out of my past like a flying demon. I remembered when I used to drink, many years ago, that the alcohol would calm me for awhile, and my problems would seem miniscule and unimportant. I began to ponder these feelings, and began to remember the taste of the liquor, the feel as it traveled down my throat, the soothing waves as it hit my stomach and calmed my nerves. It was so clear to me, and began to be very enticing. As I snuffled and sniffed, I considered what would be the consequences of giving in "just once" you know, for medicinal purposes. I turned to Martin, and said, "Honey, do you think it would be wrong to have a snort for medicinal purposes? You know, just so I can stop crying and feel better?" By golly, he almost ran the car off the freeway! I wish I could have gotten a picture of his face, as he was absolutely and totally amazed that I would even say such a thing. But what he said was so amazing to me. He said, " for most people, probably not, but for you, a former lush, it would be disasterous! What makes you think you could even stop after one "snort"? Have you forgotten what it was like when you couldn't put the bottle down? You need to pray and ask for help, and no, you cannot have even a smell of the stuff!" For clarification, I should tell you that I had quite a problem with alcohol when I was much younger, before I joined the Church. Since having joined 37 years ago, I have been able to stay away from alcohol, and until this situation, would never have considered it as a remedy. Seeing his shocked face and condemning words, I realized that I was letting the adversary really get to me. But more than that, I saw the faces of my Sunday School kids, and could not even bear the thought of them ever finding out that I had taken a drink. They would never look at me the same ever again. So, back to the epiphany. While studying for my lesson this last weekend, I came across a quote by John Taylor, one of the Presidents and Prophets of the Church. He was also present in the jailhouse room and was wounded when Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith were martyred. John Taylor was hit by 4 bullets, but still survived the terrible mob. Prior to this, when he was going on a mission to England with some of the other apostles, (before he became a President) he arrived in New York City preparatory to traveling by ship to England for his mission. One of the other apostles asked him if he had any money, and he said he had plenty. The others were relieved to hear this, as they were in dire straits and in need of capital. John Taylor told them they could have all he had, and proceeded to pull a copper cent out of his pocket, the only coin he had. Surprised, the other's asked why he thought that he had plenty of money? He said that he had a place to stay and eat with them, the clothes on his back, a penny in his pocket and owed no debt. In his mind, that was indeed plenty! He was asked, how can you be so comfortable knowing that you only have a penny and not knowing what the next day will bring, and he replied, "I would rather put my money matters in the hands of the Lord than in all the kings of the earth!"
These words jumped out at me, and filled my mind. Of course, that is the key to this situation that Martin and I are in. That is why we have so far, stayed afloat without his income. It is because, Heavenly Father is mindful of our money matters, and will not forget us. We must, of course, follow the commandments and do all we can to keep the windows of heaven open, but when I realized so clearly that like John Taylor, I was being held in the palm of Heavenly Father's hand, the feelings of doubt and terror were swept away like leaves before a twister, and in the space left behind, only feelings of strength, wonder and gratitude remained.
We may lose Martin's job, we may never get workman's comp, and we may have to experience other things that should be terrifying and incomprehensible- but I won't fear, or doubt or take a "snort" in reaction to any of them. I know that whatever the future brings, if it is Father's will, it is wonderful. I am excited to see what will happen, and tickled to see each day play out while being able to spend each day and hour with Martin. If he goes back to work, this will be a time that is so precious, and I don't want to waste it crying and worrying. I know I will have good news to report, so, stay tuned and share the joy with me!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ant Opportunities!

I have been down with a bad case of bronchitis, but as things would have it, I am on the mend much sooner than I thought. It gives be a sense of empathy towards what Martin is going through, although I am no stranger to bronchitis and other lung ailments, I take them for granted and poor Martin is new to all of this. Anyway, I will go forth- paying the price of life that is unique to me. Tonight, as I was making dinner, with my nose running, my chest hurting, coughing like a gorilla and feeling sorry for myself, Becky innocently asked, "Mama, what's wrong?" I gave her a very unlike Nana stare and said, "my life is in the crapper!" Really? Did I really fall so far as to make such a statement? I repented of such a stupid statement, my life is not in the crapper, it is wonderful. At this particular time in my history, I am simply going through a growing phase- one that takes a lot of courage and faith. One major blessing of this phase in my life is that each day, I become more like an Ant. You won't believe this, but I believe that I have been very spoiled. Spoiled by my husband, kids and friends. Maybe that is why the rug has been yanked, to allow me to remember who I am, and not who I think I want to be. I am going to sponser an Easter party for some of the less fortunate kids in our neighborhood. I am going to do this on a shoestring, spending as little as possible to bring joy to some really sweet kids. I will call on memories of Easter when my kids were little and we had no money, but certainly had wonderful Easter celebrations! I am excited about this. This year, I will not break the bank to buy Easter treats for the grandchildren, rather I will spend time with them, making Easter treats to share with others. I love to make rice krispy treats, so this year, I will get some of the off brand fruit flavored (and colored) rice cereal, make the treats, but instead of just cutting them into squares, will mold them into plastic eggs to make rice krispy treat Easter eggs! I will make cupcakes from scratch, kool-aide, cook some hotdogs that I have in the freezer, or even make pigs-in-a-blanket with them. (I can make the blanket part with homemade ingredients). Perhaps I can make a pinata from scratch. I haven't done that in years, but an Easter egg shaped pinata is really easy to make. We can play games, find eggs, and really have a good time for very little money. It will be so much fun! Then, I am thinking ahead to the 4th of July. Lots of fun to be had there too! I am finding that being an Ant brings opportunities that have long been hidden from me. How grateful I am to be able to dust them off and enjoy them again. I will keep you posted on the party, and if you want to come, please do. The more the merrier! Love, Nanasee

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


My heart is overflowing with gratitude. Gratitude for so many reasons, how can I even start to tell you? Today, I received a small letter in the mail with three little hearts where the return address should have been. My first thought was that I had received an invitation to a party or shower, and I joyfully tore the flap opened, wondering what kind of fun was coming my way. There was no invitation or announcement at all. Spilling out of the envelope was a gift of love, with the words, "Sister See, you are loved!" My hand was frozen, my eyes rivited to the green of the bills, my mind confused, my heart swelling with love and gratitude. Then, a bit of sadness, because, I had no return address to thank the sender. I sat down in my chair at the kitchen table, (yes, it is mine, my favorite place to sit) and thanked Heavenly Father for the sender, the gift and the uplifting words of love. I don't know who you are, but I thank you so much. I will pay it forward someday when things are better for us, and until then, will pay it forward with service. I wish I knew who you are, I want to express my love to you. Hopefully, you will read this blog and know that this gift is so very precious, and as I write, my tears are flowing. It is things and events of this nature that provide an island of comfort in the ocean of trial and tribulation. For a moment, I can put my head down and revel in the love that is all around me. I can rest for a moment in the arms of comfort, and the sure knowlege that Heavenly Father speaks, and that those who hear are part of those arms. And soon, I will have to jump back in the sea of turmoil, but stronger, because of the love and support that buoys me up. In January, I lived with terror that we would lose our income and benefits. It has been more than three months, and I cannot remember a time when I was closer to Heavenly Father, my Saviour Jesus Christ, my beloved eternal companion Martin, my children and grandchildren and my friends. I have garnered strength to arise each morning with a ray of hope and joy somehow breaking through the clouds, knowing that I am not alone in this time of worry. I watch my beloved husband struggle to breathe each day, hour after hour. His wheezing and coughing tear at my heart, as I see my once strong-as-a-mountain man double over in pain and weakness. There is dispair in his eyes, but his humor and love are stronger. The medications, nebulizer and constant effort to try to live a normal life are a part of him that I thought never to have withnessed. I would do this for him if only I could. In spite of it all, he is still magnificent. He jokes with strangers, that are strangers no longer after having the good fortune to interract with him. Today, he noticed a young boy at school who had no lunch, sitting in the cafeteria watching the other kids eat. Boldly, Martin confronted the boy, asking him where his food was. The boy shrugged, unable to meet Martin's gaze. "Are you hungry?" asked Martin and the boy shook his head no. "Don't you lie to me boy! I want to know if you have had lunch today!" said Martin, and when the boy hesitated, Martin pulled out a 5.00 bill and told the boy to go and eat. When he got home, Martin confessed what he had done, saying that he felt it was the right thing to do. I say confessed, because being an Ant, I keep a close watch on our finances. I began to cry with tears of gratitude, because I have the tremendous honor of having Martin for eternity. I can't wait for the day to come when I can relate the outcome of this trial. I know we will all be amazed, and I will have yet another amazing story to tell my posterity, and another grand example of the outcome of faith. For now, I find great joy in the journey. I love being an Ant. I love discovering who I am, and am constantly surprised at how each day brings a new discovery. Things are no better than January, probably more dire, but I am better, stronger, happier and more joyful. For those of you who may not know what I am writing about, let me tell you briefly. After 18 years of employment at the college where Martin works, he suddenly became ill with respiratory problems. From June, 2010 until now, Martin has had bronchitus 9 times and pneumonia once. His lungs have been damaged, and he must contend with 8 medications and a nebulizer treatment several times a day, in addition to relying on a rescue inhaler. This has all been caused by mold that developed in the airways at his job after the airconditioning system developed a mold problem due to condensation. It took months to prove that it was related to his illness, and after 9 weeks of sick time, his leave ran out. Twice he has been told that the only alternative was to terminate him because he had no leave left. So far, he is still employed, but for now is off the job without pay, and no forseeable date to return as the building is toxic to him. He has been denied workman's comp, but I am a bulldog, and will not stand for that! I won't rest until some assistance from his employer is forthcoming. (Too bad they don't know who they are dealing with!) We have been told that the damage is irreversable. It is amazing that our lives could have changed so drastically, so quickly. But even so, it has been a blessing. Somehow, we have been fine, somehow we have been able to change our living status and somehow, I learned to become an Ant instead of a grasshopper. Somehow, we continue to give service when called upon, give comfort when the opportunity arises, continue to bask in the love of so many, and to hold our heads up. I have a plaque that hangs on my bedroom wall, given to me by my precious granddaughter Audrey. It says, "Be ye strong and of a good courage. Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee." How grateful I am to see those words each day, and to read them over and over. I relish the meals that I make from my precious food storage, precious because a gift of love provided it, and think ahead to the near future when the dewberries will be on the vine and I can once again make my jelly. (I do love to make jelly!) I have so many talents, and now, I have an opportunity to use them. I try to be upbeat, but sometimes, I let the adversary get to me. On Saturday, as I ran my hand through my hair, a clump of hair fell out and spilled onto the floor. I stared at it stupidly, and then realized that I was letting stress get to me. NO MORE OF THAT! I now sport a new "do", having cut my long hair, (14 inches off), and "brought" back my natural color, or should I say, would be if I were not 56 years old. Seeing my new style reminds me that from now on, I will act instead of react. I continue to live and learn the life of someone who is treasured by Heavenly Father and so many others. So, my benevolent friend, you have yet uplifted me further, and made my day so very happy! I thank you, even though I don't know who you are. Your gift will assist us further, but more than that, your love will sustain us. Thank you, Love, Nanasee

Friday, April 1, 2011

toaster strudel

Oooh, what a sressful week it has been! Martin got sick again, and is home for a few days, of course, with no sick pay. But, that is okay, he is worth more to me than a paycheck, (I think!) I don't know when this will end, but I pray at least that he can get better. His doctor told him he could not return to the building where he works, and the HR person told him that since he has no more sick time, the only recourse left was to terminate him. I once again, freaked out, had a huge crying session, and then got my mind back to the matter at hand. That matter is, that Heavenly Father knows what we need, and will not let us down. The problem is, that I don't know what it is that Heavenly Father knows and so I feel kind of lost. When I realized the need to become an Ant, I didn't think that I would be facing such a crisis. That was about 3 months ago. Back then, becoming an Ant was a nobel thing to do, a responsible thing to do, and of course a challenge. Now, three months later, being an Ant is becoming a solid way of life. Well, enough whining, let me tell you what else being an Ant means. As most of you know, I am the queen of garage sales, second hand stores and any other way to find a bargain. In my grasshopper days, garage sale hunting was a weekly wonder- I didn't think about the cost of the so-called bargains, but instead went cheerfully and with gusto to garage sales for miles around my house. I bought so much crap, stuff I couldn't even use, but justified the purchase by keeping my friends and family in mind, "just in case they could use it". The money would slip through my hands, but along with it came the joy of being able to say, "Guess what I paid for this!" That statement was usually accompianied by the impressed looks and praise from the poor soul who had to endure my bargain crowing, and feeding my ego like a cat in a seafood store. Second hand stores are the same thing. Martin and I feel that the perfect date is browsing thrift shops and second hand stores, looking for cookie jars, tools and others "collectibles", and then go and have lunch and brag to each other about the great bargain we had once again "scored". Usually, the treasures we found would be taken in and placed on the dining table, you know until we could "find a place" for them, and by the time the next trip came around, would have to be moved, stored or given away so that the new stuff could go there. No matter how hard I tried, I could find no use for a vintage chip bowl shaped like a pineapple with matching cracker holders on a wooden turntable. It may have helped had all the cracker holders been there, but alas, in this case there were only two instead of three, and so the poor pineapple was exposed on the back of the turntable. But wait, I only paid a dollar for it, so isn't that a good enough reason to buy it? Like I said, the good old "Grasshopper" days. Today, Mama Ant kicked in with a passion. I found toaster strudels on sale for a DOLLAR a box! I made Martin take me to the store, with the thought of stocking up on toaster strudel for weeks to come. My grandkids love them, and well, it is pretty easy to pop them in the toaster at 7 in the morning while the little darlings come over to catch the bus. When I got to the store, my heart skipped a little faster as I began the race for the toaster strudel. Of course, I had to pass other stuff on the way to toaster strudel paradise, and that is where I kind of tripped up. First of all, there was a special that if you bought a frozen lasagna, you could get for free, some nesquick, some garlic bread, some salad and salad dressing. Whoo-hoo! What a bargain! It was a great big package, so I thought to myself that it would be perfect for Sunday dinner after church. I would whip up the salad, heat the bread and serve it all with a hot and savory presence of pasta. But wait, a few chips in the china- first of all, I can't eat meat, so I bought the cheese variety. Since I am the only one who can't eat meat, I can just see the others picking suspiciously between the noodles wondering where the beef is. Then, Becky can't eat tomato sauce, because it upsets her pregnant tummy, Martin doesn't like salad or lasagna and Joe thinks that if there is no meat, then it isn't food. I am still wondering how I am going to pull this off, because I excercised my Antness to "save" money on groceries. If push comes to shove, there will be an enormous lasagna for me to enjoy and another offering for the rest of them. Yeah, it's a bargain all right. Lasagna anyone? I then saw that soy milk was on sale, and thought that it would be a great time to stock up on soy milk for me. I had two gallons in the cart, and Martin came along and gave me an incredulous look. I told him with a beaming smile, that it was on sale, and he told me with a beaming return smile that if I bought two gallons of soy milk, there would be no room for the regular milk or the lactose-free milk that Becky and Eli needed to drink. The eggs would probably have a struggle too, not to mention the condiments and left-overs. The grasshoopper in me started to rise to the struggle, but then, the Ant came to the rescue. One gallon would be plenty for a week, and even though it was on sale, it wasn't a bargain if I didn't have room for it. Sausage was on sale too, and I almost unconciously reached to grab several pounds to throw into the cart "for a rainy day". I heard Martin clear his throat, and I courageously said, "You know, we really don't need 15 pounds of sausage, well, I guess we don't need any sausage since I have lots in the freezer". But I couldn't move. That sausage had been reduced from 4.50 a pound to 1.50 a pound. Everything in me was screaming, "grab the meat!" but I stood firm. With a herculean effort, I pushed my cart away, at first only inches, but then, a foot and then even several yards until I could no longer see the sausage display. It was like seening a car wreck, I wanted so bad to turn around and get just one last peek at such a fabulous buy, but somehow, I continued forward with determination. Then, it happened. There, before my eyes, was an entire freezer display of toaster strudel. All the flavors. Glowing and gleaming, enticing one with their colors and lettering, a veritable smorgasborg of easy-to-make breakfast pastry. And only a dollar a box! I sized up the room in my cart. My fingers began to tingle at the thought of tossing box after frozen box of toaster strudel into the basket, going back for more like a true toaster strudel athlete. I could see the look of absolute gratitude and worship on the faces of my grandsons as I placed the steaming toaster strudel before them, and then with a flourish, drizzled the frosting in an intricate pattern. Yes, it was a toaster strudel fantasy. I flexed my muscles, and braced for the frigid temperatures that would greet my greedy hands as I decimated the carefully laid display in the freezer. I grabbed the handle on the freezer and opened the door. Now, for the fun. I put two boxes in my cart, and the strangest thing happened. The Ant came roaring out of me in true indignation. How dare I allow the Grasshopper to indulge itself by hoarding toaster strudel. Where was my class? My determination to be an Ant? How could I justify spending that kind of money, (even though it was a really good price) on a cartfull of toaster strudel? I straightened my back, lifted my head and stepped back. Placing two more boxes for a total of only four in the cart, I shut the freezer door. Only four boxes. I could do it. I could be normal in the face of a bargain hunters fantasy. I dug down deep and decided that I WOULD do it. I would act like an Ant. An act of courage that was so distant to me, but yet, I would do it. I felt the strength began to surge through me as a thought came blasting out of my brain. Was it, "be strong, be responsible, be sensible?" Was it, "step away from the toaster strudel and nobody's budget will be hurt?" Was it, "tomorrow you will be so proud of yourself?" or even, "you will thank yourself in the future, especially if Martin does truly lose his job?" No, the golden thought that reigned in the monster, that gave birth to an even stronger Ant, that made me feel like a crowning success in the face of massive temptation was just this-"They are Sissy's kids, let her buy the toaster strudel!" Love, Nanasee