Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January is National Blood Donor Month.

All human blood may look alike, but you can’t donate to just anyone and you can’t receive blood from just anyone, either. Blood types need to be matched correctly.

Every two seconds someone needs a blood transfusion. But less than thirty-eight percent of the population is eligible to give blood.

I can’t remember when my husband began to donate blood. He is one of the 7% who have O negative blood, which is safe for anyone to receive. His blood is most often sent to the local Children’s hospital. His veins don’t want to cooperate and often shift or hide when the time comes to donate.

My veins are large and my blood flows freely. But we learned right away that no one wants my blood. Hepatitis when I was nine years old closed that door to me forever. But for those who can give the gift of life, it is very rewarding.

I pint of blood can save up to three lives. And if it goes to a Children’s hospital it can save even more.

Blood can only come from volunteer donors. It cannot be manufactured.

Here is what others say:
I am a Red Cross blood donor that won't give up.  I tried to give blood when I was 18, but was declined in both my junior and senior high school years. Once I got to college, I was deferred again. I was finally able to give blood and have given twice. I love donating blood. The thought of being able to help save three people’s lives every time I go makes me feel like a better person.

Brenda had 14% chance to live.
In 2010' my blood stopped working. The red blood cells would not grow, or replace themselves. I had a 14% chance to live! I had blood disease, and sepsis too. All this happened within 45 minutes on an ordinary day....I always donated blood, but; that one day? I became a recipient, and I thank all those who donated blood. I am alive and can love and be with my 4 kids! They already lost one parent, but you donors? Saved the other, me, their momma. Thank you from my heart!

Donating Blood-American Red Cross

Amanda's First Time Donating Blood - Blood Donor Clinic

This information was gleaned from http://www.redcrossblood.org/
photos from http://www.dreamstime.com

Can you make this your year to give the gift of life?

Until Next time . . . Sharon A Lavy

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Only in Minnesota, do they have parades, a carnival, and ice castles...all in celebration of winter!

It began over 125 years ago, when a pesky New York City reporter described St.Paul as "unfit for human habitation in the winter." Not one to take an insult sitting down, the city set out to prove him wrong and threw the first ever winter carnival in 1886. Today an average of 350,000 people come to the city each year to take in the ice sculptures,

This was my first year going to the Carnival, and it is really incredible what they can do with a little ice and snow! The warm weather has really hampered this year's celebration, but here's a little glimpse!

My dream...to be crowned, "Queen of the Snows!"
Happy Winter!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Grid-locked Out

Once upon a time, people believed the world was flat, square and symmetrical.
City planners, to make best use of world space, planned and built cities on a grid system.
Some streets ran north and south. Others ran east and west. And they were all perpendicular to each other and anyone out for a stroll could easily make their way out of the city by heading straight in one direction.
They would eventually fall off the edge of earth, but they would have made record time.
City streets were organized on a grid and they made sense. A good and proper city could easily be designed on an Etch-a-Sketch.
Etch-a-Sketch type neighborhood
Then someone suggested the world was round.
The idea caught on.
Soon city planners began to think outside the flattened box.
“Why,” they pondered, “are we still building cities to fit in a square world? The world is rounded, in a tipsy-egg sort of way! Let’s get creative with our city planning!”
So they tossed their Etch-a-Sketches, dipped the tip of a top into ink and set it spinning.
The resulting whirls, squiggles and spirals became the prototype for city planning.
Spin-the-Top designed neighborhood
And now The Prude can wander for days in an unfamiliar neighborhood wondering why her compass just spins around and around.
Please don’t think she is against creativity. The Prude can take a ball of yarn to knit a hat and wind up with something resembling a sea scallop convention.
But her formative years were spent in a grid-type city.
Walk straight west and there was the prairie.
Straight north? Several more cities and then the north woods.
Head south and eventually you would be sucked into the Black Hole of Chicago, straight east and you would fall into Lake Michigan (in record time).
It wasn’t a very inventive city, but a slug with a lobotomy could find its way out.
Now The Prude lives in a town built on the Spin-the-Top principle.
She doesn’t live on a block, she lives on a kidney.
Streets are designed so that a person looking out his front door sees thousands upon thousands of yards of concrete curb and gutter and road doubling back on themselves. If that same person looks out the backdoor he will see his cauliflower-shaped yard converging with at least 7 other back yards.
The Prude and her husband, lost in one such neighborhood, saw a house so confused that its backdoor faced the street and its ornate front door looked over the neighbor’s compost heap.
And The Prude wonders- just how much proof do we have that the world is round, anyway?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Polar Bear Plunge

The first time I saw Lake Michigan I was speechless. It wasn't exactly the Atlantic Ocean, but it wasn't one of the little lakes I knew growing up in Eastern Ohio. The waves washing up on the shoreline, the big rocks here and there where we could sit and eat sandwiches as we watched sailboats, and the sandy beaches where children could spend hours building sandcastles made our portion of the Lake a perfect place to spend time with the family.

The Lake could be wild. One hot summer afternoon, we took our four children and their cousins to the lake. Two of our girls were enjoying the sun and waves on an orange raft when a current began to wash them further and further away from us. As hard as they tried, the twelve and thirteen year old girls couldn't fight the current. As we panicked on the shoreline, a stronger swimmer was able to reach them and pull them from the current allowing the tearful, terror-stricken two to paddle themselves back to shore.

Lake Michigan has a mind of its own.

Yesterday, I took a little trip to Lake Michigan by myself. I wanted to admire the beauty of this awesome body of water in winter. I have heard stories of hearty individuals who dive into these icy waters on New Year's Day as part of the Polar Bear Plunge. Personally, I think they are crazy.

The mild winter had melted most of the snow along the shoreline, but there were still ice floats I could see from the shore. It was beautiful, inspiring and chilly.

What is it that draws us to large bodies of water? They are wild and powerful forces of nature. But we can't help ourselves. We both love and fear the power.

Most of the time, we slather ourselves with sunscreen, spread out our beach blanket and keep a safe distance from their thunderous waves. We are lashed to the shore by our insecurities and fear of the unknown. We would never participate in the Polar Bear Plunge. Too risky. Too scary. Too dangerous.

Other times, we can't resist and we roll up our cuffs, walk along the shoreline and allow the water to wash over our toes while we admire the beauty further out. Before long, we turn our attention to building sandcastles that are so quickly washed away.

Someone has said that God is a Sea. We both love and fear his power. We keep a safe distance and admire him from afar. Instead of venturing in, we turn our attention to building sandcastles that are quickly washed away.

My wintry trip to Lake Michigan started me thinking about something C.S. Lewis said. He wrote that one of his temptations in life was "to go down to that Sea and their neither dive nor swim nor float, but only dabble and splash."

I understand what he was saying. I too, often only dabble and splash in God's love. I roll up my cuffs and wade in just far enough to feel good but rarely far enough to bring transformation.

If God truly is a Sea - a Sea of mercy, forgiveness, love, kindness, comfort, security, peace - perhaps it is time to take the plunge.

What holds you back from the Sea?

The first two pictures are of Lake Michigan in the winter, taken on January 25th. The last picture is courtesy of my photographer friend, Mike Tanner (St. Mikes photo). It is a picture of our daughter with her two little girls taken the summer of 2011.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Are We Preserving Our Stories?

by Sandra Heska King

I posted this photo among several others on a blog post earlier in the month. 

Kathleen commented: "I especially enjoyed the photo of the briars and weeds with the old home in the background."

I took that photo from our lane that runs up to the house my daughter lives in. The one that used to sit next to our old barn. The one that collapsed in the great hailstorm of 2008.

This story of the barn is in a book called Michigan's Heritage Barns.

We had to have it bulldozed and buried.

The "old home" in the photo up top sits just down the drive from this house, what we call the big house.

I'd like to snoop around inside, but my husband does not believe it would be safe. It will probably fall down soon. 

As will the smaller house next to it. Both part of the original centennial farm.

But that old home up top? It didn't start out as a house.

My husband's great-grandfather gave that little piece of land to a small congregation as long as they used it for a church.

How cool to have a church right on your property? 

My husband attended there until his family transferred to the "big church" in town.

He tells of stuffing his friend Kenneth's toy tractor into the basement drain and wonders if that's what caused the water to keep backing up down there afterwards.

The congregation eventually built a new building across the road. I don't know if it was my husband's fault.

My sister-in-law stored antiques in the old church for a little while before it became a home for several different families.

That building won't last forever, either, and I doubt very many know the history. 

But we do, because the stories have been passed down verbally and in writing.

I'm fascinated with old ruins and always wonder about their history--whether anyone has preserved it in some form.

And then I remember that we, too, are wasting away, and our physical buildings will one day be nothing but dust. 

I like to believe our past enriches our future and the future of those who come after.

So the question is--are we preserving our stories? 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Show Us Your Blog or Website

I started my Momlaughs blog five years ago www.momlaughs.blogspot.com I also write a blog for inspiring those who would love to become a writer or have something published - www.writingmentor.blogspot.com My husband, Bob, and I also have this website www.forkeepsministries.com Do you have a blog or website? Please show us your blog or website. Put the name of your blog or website on the first line that is what will appear here as the title. Share it here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Flavor is Only Skin Deep

Welcome, BarnDoor guest, Deanna Klingel

(Our guest essays, just like our group members' posts, are always the personal opinions of the individual presenters and are never representative of theBarnDoor.org as a whole.)

An Essay from Deanna Klingel

Black History month is right around the corner, and it behooves all of us to put on our writing caps and determine whether we've been part of the problem or part of the solution when it comes to racial bias. How does our writing reflect our attitudes?

I grew up in Michigan, where I experienced more outspoken racial bias than in all the years I've lived in the south. I always heard about Southern prejudice, so I was prepared for it when we moved to the south later. But, I never heard and saw anything that compared to Michigan, where it was so ingrained, so accepted, they didn't even consider it prejudice. They didn't even notice. I determined my children would never be taught those attitudes.

I had a wonderful experience just a couple years ago when I took an African Lit course at Brevard College. In that class we were asked to share writings that reflected our attitudes. This essay I had written for that class, I'd like to share with you.

The Flavor Is Only Skin Deep

Years ago when we were living in Ohio my husband and I had foster children in our family alongside our own. Toby came to us directly from the hospital at five weeks, weighing little over five pounds. He was a beautiful baby the color of a Kraft caramel, with a shiny, soft, curly baby Afro. Toby lived with us until he was two and a half when he was adopted. Our own baby, number five, was born a few months later. We called them our salt and pepper twins as they crawled after one another, slept in side-by-side cribs, and took their first steps together.

We called him Toby because his real name, Timothy David, was exactly the same name as our three year-old Timmy. His last name began with a "B" so we put his initials together and called him Toby. Timmy adored Toby.

One time when Toby was propped up in his little jump seat Timmy was playing around him making him laugh. I looked up to see what he was giggling about. Timmy was licking Toby's arm, then licking his own.

"Hey, Timmy, honey, that's yukky, don't do that. Can you do something else to make him laugh?"

"I'm checking flavors."

"You're doing what? Oh. I see. And what have you decided?"

"Him's the same flavor as me."

"Are you surprised?"

"I thought him tasted like the Easter Bunny."

"Oh. Chocolate?"

"Yup, but him doesn't."

I took a taste myself, making both little boys giggle. "Hmm," I said. "I think you both taste like Ivory Soap. Imagine that."

Another time when Toby was a toddler he was running on the driveway and fell. Timmy felt the worst because he'd been chasing him. Toby snagged himself a great raspberry on his arm just below his elbow. It was a raw gaping skid mark with the skin peeled back and blood seeping from the under layer. All the kids, Sally 6, Debbie 5, Timmy 4, Jeff 3, and Jimmy and Toby both 2, gathered around and I had to move their heads to see to cleanse the wound. Jimmy held Toby's hand and Jeff soothed his fluffy head. No one was saying anything but "Shh, it's okay, Mommy's going to fix it." But, they were all looking, studying, and drawing their own conclusions. Under that thin layer of chocolate colored skin, the flesh, the blood, the body's machinery, were all raw and red. It was exactly like theirs. The color really was only skin deep. They weren't saying anything, but they figured it out. And it didn't take years of scientific study or social self-consciousness. It took caring and love.

Next month, during Black History month, I hope you and your children have an opportunity to experience that kind of intimate knowledge; the kind that comes from sharing tears over a gaping wound.

About Deanna

I was a child in a small town in the 50’s. It was a time when kids amused themselves with paper, scissors, magazines, paste, crayons, and books, while listening to the radio. That’s when I wrote and illustrated my first books, lacing the pages together with shoe strings. Writing wasn’t something I dreamed of doing “when I grow up;” it was something I was already doing. I wrote plays for my classmates, wrote for the school newspapers, yearbook, tons of letters of correspondence with relatives and pen pals. I recently found a yellowed poem I wrote for the Michigan State University newspaper. Don’t remember it, but there it is! After I had kids (7) I wrote puppet plays and stories for them, edited school newsletters, and projects, plays and news for Scouts and church. I wrote all the time. I made scrapbooks, diaries and kept journals. I hadn’t figured out that I was a writer, or an author. That didn’t happen until after the children were grown and I began writing travel books for grandchildren. Then one day it happened. I woke up and said, “I have a story in my head, and I think it wants to be a book. I guess I’ll try to write a book.”

Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter Day on the Farm

Hubby and I wandered the farm a few weeks ago. Here are some pictures. It was a lovely, frosty day and I was wearing my new polka-dot rubber boots.







Sunday, January 22, 2012

Along the Way

We take several back roads on our way to church and there's a few interesting places along the way, one I've wanted to stop and take a few pictures of. Since I had a blog challenge, I made the time and stopped at "the cat house" to take some pictures...

Oops. Okay, so that picture is at the four way just before the Cat House, but still a shot I've wanted to take for years. LoL An empty barn or garage. The house is long gone.

Here's across the road from the Cat House...

A home with an old attached garage with the pick up still there. The door is ajar and it'd be so cool to tiptoe through the house. But I won't. Not only is it not our land but it's posted, No Trespassing. Bummer. I'll just have to use my imagination. hehe.

But this car is what I *really* set out to get a picture of. It just makes me smile.

Can you imagine the stories this car can tell? I want to know why it was parked at the edge of the yard and left. And when. And what was its last trip? So many stories, just sitting there...

In case you're wondering why I call it the Cat House--it's where all stray cats are welcome. This only shows three cats, but we suspect two dozen are in residence. The home owner is no longer there, but people faithfully come and feed the cats and make sure there's a cat house or two somewhere close by. There used to be a pair of peacocks, but I've not seen them for a couple years. They were gorgeous, but always startled me with their screech when I drove past.  They would perch on the peak of the small barn between the house and the car. Now it's just the cats and the car. This little place, off the beaten path, is a reminder to me that God takes care of His creatures, just like it says in Matthew 6:26... Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you lnot worth much more than they?

God takes care of all these cats, even after the home owner is no longer in residence. He will take care of His children!!

So tell me about a curious or interesting place near you...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

20 Things Your Spirit Needs to Hear about God

Your spirit was created by God to live in relationship to him.  Without that relationship, your like a fish out of water.  You live in a world that is deceived about God and his plan to know you.  Your spirit needs to hear the truth.  This "poem" is a start. Here are 20 things your spirit needs to hear about God plus a refrain.

He Is the One

God is the One who has always longed to know you.

He is the One who made the cosmos for you. He is the One who, through ancient words, speaks to you. He is the One who kept the chosen ones for you.

He is the One who has always longed to know you.

He is the One who became a human like you. He is the One who, with peerless power, taught you. He is the One who gave health to the sick  for you. He is the One who fed ravenous crowds for you.

Credit: Free images from acobox.com

Friday, January 20, 2012

Swatting fLIES

Google Images
There are days when disappointments in life get so discouraging that the thing I swore I’d never do becomes the epitome of success. I fight against it. I rattle the cage I’ve locked it in, screaming that it is not an option. But somehow, it nips at my heels . . . taunts my thoughts . . . mocks my futile efforts to swat it down. 

What is that, you ask?

Giving up. Contenting myself with mediocre and mundane living. Convincing myself that others live in the shadow of their dreams, never reaching them, always saying dreams are for sleepers, reality is where we live. “Dreams are a nice retreat, but seriously folks, the paycheck is a means to an end and there’s no room for your child-play.” I hear that. Paying bills is always a plus; but does that mean the dream must die?

January 19, 2012
I stare into the blank holes of my mind, seeing there’s more snow there than has fallen all year in SE Michigan. The temperatures remain moderate, above normal in reality, as the icebox inside grows colder, threatening to solidify those dreams into hard, unyielding, unforgiving, frostbitten memories. I find myself tempted to succumb to the dropping thermostat and close my eyes to all that my heart yearned for.

That is until the little girl deep within claws her way to the surface and cries out to her friends, “Please help!”

Google Images
God has placed in each of us a dream, a vision, and a future. It doesn’t matter how small or large that dream is, it is a gift from Him and deserves to be protected and nurtured.  Often, the enemy of our souls will mock us and do his best to convince us that it is our own thoughts, our inabilities, and the furthest from God’s plan for our lives. We must not let him succeed.

I cannot allow him to steal from me my deepest desire . . . to hear my Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

So on I tread, with broken blade, empty weapon, but a mighty God; and through Him, I will prevail.

And I trust you will, too.

Thanks for visiting. 

Anticipating an awesome year,
Karlene A. Jacobsen

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Feels Like 22 Below

The wind is whistling through the cracks and seals around my windows and doors today. My thermometer says -6 degrees; the computer says it's 0 and with the windchill, feels like -22 degrees. I can't begin to imagine living in a soddy or a log cabin, relying on the chinking. The builders of my  brick home, back in 1852, had a couple of woodstoves for heat. My contemporary furnace hasn't shut off for several hours. Thank heavens for hot flashes, or I'd still be a bit chilly.

Snowy day! Glad to be indoors.

Chores must still be done - imagine having to go out and start the windmill to pump water. I remember watching my grandparents do this every time we visited the Iowa farm.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You Just Never Know

There is so much truth in that short statement. You just never know.
Within the past couple of months there have been too many sad events.

A friend of mine delivered her baby too early for her son to survive. He lived an hour and was the most beautiful child. She had one hour to pour all her love into him and when he breathed his last breath she had to say goodbye. It was goodbye to her son and all the hopes and dreams she had been pondering for the last five months. Sad is the smallest word.

Another friend never had the chance to kiss her son goodbye. Her 37 year old son was at his home getting ready for bed. While his wife was out of the room he sat down on the bed and had a massive heart attack. My heart bleeds for her. My oldest son is 37 and I cannot begin to imagine her pain.
Then this past week another friend from church lost his 27 year old son in a car accident. Once again, his son was here one minute and gone the next. My Son #3 is 27. My mind can’t comprehend the loss.

I have two reasons to share this sadness with you.

1.      You have right now to make sure you act, speak and show your love, forgiveness, encouragement or whatever you have to the people in your lives. Never let someone walk out the door without giving them all you have in your love tank. You just never know.

2.      I am amazed at the workings of God.

My friend who lost her infant child is transforming physically into a peaceful, beautiful woman. She was gorgeous before, but there is a difference about her. You can see peace and the love of Jesus on her. The other day, when I spoke to her, I wanted to encourage her. Yet, she was the encourager that day, her strength was amazing.

The mother who lost her 37 year old son stopped in the bookstore where I work the day after the funeral. We hugged and cried a little, but, it’s hard to find a word to describe her resolve. She was hurting, grieving and feeling the loss all while praising God and telling how he has been so real, so close and has held her up.

The father of the 27 year old posted this on Facebook the evening his son died: How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. (James 4:14 NLT) .... Rejoice in that we have a hope a glory. While mourning his son he is pointing to the future hope he has in his Savior.
If you are like one of my friends who have lost a loved one, I am sorry. There aren’t enough words to express sympathy for your loss.

If you still have people in your life you value, pay attention. Take the time to really look at them, listen to them, love on them, encourage them and always tell them you love them.

You just never know.

You can follow our regular activities on www.randomramblingsof.com and tune in to www.whtc.com on Wed mornings around 8:25 for the weekly radio spot Random Ramblings.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Best Part of Spring

A snowplow just rumbled by, sweeping accumulation from the street. Outside my window, new white flakes cling to needles of my evergreen bushes and leafless branches of my trees, turning my yard into a winter wonderland before my eyes.

Only yesterday, I went for a walk, and noticed those same leafless branches had begun to bud. My heart performed somersaults, seeing the first whispers of spring.

Then my thoughts turned to my favorite parts of spring, all I was looking forward to. The first crocuses and irises. And later, tulips. Robins returning to nest. Goldfinches like bits of sunshine. Newborn calves curled up near their mamas. Young foals kicking up their heels and dashing circles around the mares. Tiny chicks and ducklings for sale at the local farm and seed store.

Today, the snowfall is truly beautiful, but my heart is already anticipating the melt, when the dormant world awakes and life is reborn once again.

I can’t say that I have a “best” part of spring. I have to admit, I love it all. What is your favorite part of spring?

Monday, January 16, 2012

What Are You Reading Now?

The BarnDoor mid-monthly checkin - in:
What Are You Reading?

Lisa, here:
I've been catching up on some book reviews again, but I still snuck in a couple of books from my ToBeRead pile, which--in print at least--is thankfully beginning to shrink. I read Lynette Eason's Killer Among Us. I really enjoyed her Women of Justice series. I'm preparing to lead the February ACFW BookClub starting on Feb 20 with Jim Rubart's The Chair.  He manages to create bizarre situations and make them sound perfectly reasonable. I just finished a non-fiction book, Small Space Organizing,  a book review book, yes, but also just in case we might get to retire someday. I'm still working on Log Cabin Christmas, savoring each story. I gave copies to my moms and a friend at church, and get a kick out of hearing what each of them think about it. I also read Michael Perry's Truck for one of my book clubs. If you want to understand quintessential Wisconsin and the Midwest, you must read Michael Perry.

I've also been reading through submissions to the magazines I edit, OtherSheep and Creative Wisconsin, and delighted in the creativity of authors. What fun. I'm looking at Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth soon, and have been blessed by another request to endorse an upcoming book by former crit partner, Beth Shriver, and very much looking forward to the release of my friend Ann's first novella next month.

How about you? What are you reading these days?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Snow Day!

A snow day in Indiana where I live
I have a friend who lives where they don't see snow. She wistfully made the comment that she wished that she could have a day like I just had where she could be "snowed in." I was quick to point out all the hazards and worries I have about this kind of treacherous weather. Our family is all too aware of the dangers, and have to get out in it to help. But.

She triggered memories of the days when I didn't worry about those things (like semi-trucks jackkniving on the interstate or freezing to death, or frost bite or electricity going out and not being able to get to the loved one or no hot coffee.Yeah, my brain has been adultatized. Kill me.)

It started with her comment--then my husband and I went outside to assess the huge drifts of snow after it stopped. Our cars were blocked in, and we wanted to see if our new snow blower would do the job. And how it did! Before it was all over, we were fighting each other to blow out the driveway with that snow blower. If a huge snowblower on a tractor manned by a local farmer neighbor hadn't shown up coming down our rural one-lane county road, I'm not so sure we wouldn't have blown out all the snow on the road, too. It was...yeah, ok, fun! My husband joked that the snow blower was my Valentine's Day present, and frankly, it was the most fun I'd had in a while.
My boys a few years ago in huge snowdrifts having a free day from school
I found this photo above of my boys from several years ago when we had a bigger snow day with drifts over 6 feet high, and they thought it was the most fun thing that had ever happened to them. My memories flew back to when I was their age as I looked at this photo, fueled by my California friend's comment, and our snow blowing fun.

The small Christian school I attended from 1st to 5th grade only had two rooms for 8 grades. Our teachers were a couple--the man taught 5th-8th and the lady taught 1st-4th. We were like a big family. And when we were at school and the snow was piled to the rooftop, Mr. Clayburn said we should build a snowman at recess. But it wasn't just any snowman--it was the abominable snowman! He was over 8 feet tall when we got done and the newspaper sent a photographer to save it for all times and show everyone else. Except, I don't know what happened to that photograph. We were really proud and probably every one of us kept that memory. At least I hope so.

I remember snow forts and huge snowball fights with Phil and Rick and Susan and Karen and Mary Beth. It was a blast! But one time I threw a snowball at the retreating losers, Rick and Phil, as they ducked into the garage. They shut the door just as I let it fly. Smack! Yep. It went right through the glass. I sat there on the icy ground, behind the walls of our fort. I was so upset, the walls began to melt. Or at least seemed to. I just knew I was grounded for all time. I tredged slowly to the house, went straight to my dad and told him what I'd done.

He got on his snow gear--boots, coat and that toboggan hat that made him look like a lumberjack, and carefully picked up pieces of glass from the ice. Then, he went to town, bought a new glass and installed it himself. I hung around there like I was at a funeral home. Didn't want to be there, but I stuck around anyway. I kept waiting for him to yell at me, saying,"What are you! Dumb? Didn't you know that a snowball would break the glass? Don't you know that costs money? Didn't you know it was a foolish thing to do?" (Well, my dad didn't exactly talk like this, but it was filtered through my own voice in my head, chewing me out...chewing me out in my own mean and chastising way.)

He never did chew me out. He just grinned and fixed the window. He said, "All fixed." He never yelled. Never lectured me. He didn't even say, "Don't do that anymore." He didn't beat me, smack me, but also he didn't yell. Or even correct me.I mean, I was pretty much perfect, but even I needed someone to tell me I'd done something wrong once in a while.

I never understood why he didn't get mad back then, and it wasn't until one day when I was older that I "got it." You know. That age that your mother predicted as, "Just wait until you are a mom!"? And at that time I remembered another story--my dad telling a really funny story to us about how when he was a little boy, and how crazy he was about Superman.

He had seen a movie in the theater and just was wild about Superman--pretending he was Superman all the time. He was jumping and "flying" off this and that, and one day he climbed up on the chicken coop. With cape flying he flew right off the roof. He landed on his back on a "stob"(which was some cut off small tree stump.) It knocked the wind out of him and he couldn't breathe.

His dad ran over, stood over him saying, "Are you all right? Can you breathe?" Dad said he gulped for air and finally said, "Yessir, I think I'm getting my 'breaf' back." (Dad was very Southern and this was more how he talked.) Dad had a way of telling the most horrific story with humor and a twinkle in his eye--like it was actually funny. Then, he went on with the "kicker:"

"As soon as I got to my feet, Daddy kicked my butt all over the yard."

His daddy was so upset about him nearly killing himself, that he beat him to emphasize not to ever do that again. Yeah.

My dad had his own major faults, but one thing he did magnificently--he broke the abuse cycle passed from father to kids. He corrected us without beating us half to death, or for that matter, at all. And he was able to fit the punishment with the crime. I'm not even sure how he did this--unless it was my mother's influence on him, or the fact that he never wanted to treat us like his dad treated him.

And before you go thinking how horrible my Granddaddy was--he, too, broke his bad habits as he aged, and I didn't know this part of him that my dad did. I think my mother influenced my granddaddy, too.

Snow day. I have a lot of stories about snow, snow play, and blizzards having grown up in Indiana. I survived the Blizzards of '77 & '78. I've told them to my kids, and my kids have their own stories, too. I warned them not to throw snowballs at windows, but I did it with a smile, and they have never known beatings like my dad endured--and neither have I.
Crystal Laine Miller


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