Posts tagged: family


beach photo




You had no more need 

of  sandals for your feet.

Nor of a body infested with demons

                 Your love and courage could not defeat.

         Why? Why?

  Unknowing…why they fed

           Upon your love with hate

                Consuming all but your soul.

                                I do not know.

Triumphantly you left them here

Left them all behind

Shook free of death’s final grasp

To be free, free at last,

free at last!

Sandles 1

Together you and I deny…

Deny separation.

Your spark lives on…

You are not gone.

You and I still wander here

         In earthly sandal shoes.

With our toes in silky sand

Planting flowers in earth’s rich land.

We protest,  you and I…

                       Together we take a stand

              Against injustice, against the wars

                                    That infest this suffering land.

Always one, we celebrate

               The birth of family souls.

Baby stork

 Sometimes the ache

          Of my unknowing

      Stops my breath–takes its toll.

          Yet, in the quiet of the night

  I feel you close, tho out of sight

I know you’re near…you sooth my fear

With perfect love that flows

 Across the abyss of my unknowing.

Each day I slide my feet

                     Into your earth- scuffed shoes.

                             It seems I’ve yet to understand…

                    I must pay my earthly dues.

Together  we travel in memory

                                   Until the day I too will  leave

          Your shoes all scuffed and worn,

                                  When into a new life I will be born.

          There is no death,  you and I

                    Together always…will forever share

                                                       The peace of perfect love.

faith hope and

The Family Easter Vacation


Tradition! (I can hear the song from Fiddler on the Roof echoing) that is Easter vacation with our youngest son,  a solo parent with five children.  “No, Meeko (the family dog)  cannot come.”  We are adamant about that.

Preparation time: How do I convince my ever lovin husband that seven extra people (they’re bringing a friend)  for ten days will be fun.  I ‘m rubbing his back, my voice is quiet…“Ron, it would be really great if you didn’t go into the bedroom and watch TV the entire time they are here.”  My words trail off.  Now that is not exactly  fair.  If they are interested in wind surfing or kayaking or fishing,  he’s out in the bay with them.  History:   “Sammy’s only five, Hon, I don’t think she’s big enough yet.”

“Ah, she can get the balance, never too young to get the feel of it.”  I shrug, Sammy is lost in the life jacket that hangs from head to toe, her blond hair is pulled up into a pony tail and her eyes are round as saucers, not from fear, of course.

Bringing the dog would almost be a better option than the “friend.”  I don’t care how nice the friend is, it changes the dynamics of the entire vacation, my neighbor nods her head in agreement.  It is no longer a “family” vacation   Both of us old folks seem to fall off the radar as the Trips (three born in the same year…twins and an eleven–month old)  bend over backward to make sure their friend gets her equal share of everything.  Now maybe I’m being a bit churlish.  Why do I feel ignored when all of them are upstairs (with their own TV) hour after hour never coming downstairs unless it’s for food or a fresh towel as they whip off to the swimming pool running pellmell plowing through the jumble of shoes in the front entry only to return to their upstairs  hideaway slamming the door closed.  Now let’s be fair, that is not their entire day.  Their father rousts them out of bed, they run, they go to the work–out room and lift, come home for a quick breakfast and then its onto their bikes to the tennis court for an hour or so of hitting the tennis ball.  He’s their in-house coach.  All play on the high school tennis team.    Maybe they deserve that time up in the bedroom.

But to us it seems we have not a moment of eyeball to eyeball.  I’ve forgotten the color of their eyes.  Whatever happened to “family” activities?  I see the Kennedys out there playing touch football, (don’t think I’m up to that) or on the other end of the scale, Jane and Henry Fonda sparring with each other (no one ever thought that was fiction) in “On Golden Pond.”  My older son’s wife’s family sit and play Monopoly for hours, we used to play Canasta–not any more.   The electronic age has taken over.

It’s not that they don’t do anything for me.  If I call and ask, they all troop downstairs to help set/clear the table, load the dishwasher and then they disappear again.  I know it’s the age (14-15). The oldest grandson has had experience in the food industry and gives me some interesting tips.   I appreciate the help and another good thing…their father prepares them breakfast and lunch (even buys their favorite food).  I have not had to suggest that IPhones,  or whatever the latest electronic gadgets,  are  not allowed at the table. (I think he has laid down the law before they arrived.) The chatter abounds.  I watch Ron across the top of their heads. He actually seems interested at least his eyes haven’t rolled totally back yet.

And what do we cook for dinner?  I refuse to “specialize” to individual tastes.  Not my son.    He dotes.  I can remember my oldest son coming home from college, “Spoil me, Mom, fix dinner.”  His brother not only fixes the dinner, it is special for each one of them–one doesn’t like dark meat so it’s breast, one doesn’t eat rice, so it’s potatoes.  I used to get impatient–so different from our “…eat it or you can have cereal and milk.” (I never could bring myself to let them go hungry) but I do marvel at his loving attention.

I refuse  to wash those towels every time they bring them in, drape them across the patio chars or fling them into the wash room–rather, it’s into the dryer before the next pool visit.  It has taken me years to convince them that wet towels, bathing suits, wash clothes should not be flung onto the wood furniture. I’m pleased to note my admonition seems to be working and there are only a few left–over stains from earlier years.   Any hint on how I remove water stains from the mahogany dresser created from  who knows what?


Hint: Never, I mean Never go upstairs during their visit. Hopefully you have a main–floor bedroom, or at least a very private area upstairs. Never open their doors.  The floor will have disappeared beneath a jumble of towels, clothes, suitcases (forget the drawers in the chest or the hangers in the closet.  What looks like chaos to us is a way of life that they handle very nicely).  An unmade bed is a natural bed. Comfy.  They sleep just fine, thank you; and I have learned that my standards are not theirs.  We are not here to train, just to love and enjoy the show which takes a bit of  “closed-mouth” exercising on our part.

Trees stormSo our backyard barbecue, which was supposed to be beneath the Live Oak, was not met with sun and balmy breezes, but with thunder/lightening flashes, rain whipping the trees, the bay  full of rolling waves.  What to do?   We found the boat house a perfect place for three tables and the grill with neighbors joining in. The children set the tables decorate with flowers  while Ron grills the ribs and chicken. An exotic chocolate cake topped with chocolate covered strawberries  provided by our neighbor is “well received”. I suggest the grandchildren not sit with each other but with the neighbors and they comply happily joining into the conversation. An arrangement thoroughly enjoyed by the “grown-ups.

Harry Potter landrticle-1213793-06722D97000005DC-558_634x489A family day at Harry Potter’s castle gives us old folks some quiet time.  Pictures of their gleeful faces provide us with pleasure. We did not miss the four-hour drive with 7 people in the car or, the 90 minute line to experience “the” ride.  I listen to one of our equally aged neighbors describe her excitement.  She went three times. I shake my head in wonder.  Perhaps  I’ve lost something in my life’s journey, or have I?  It’s not that we are “rocking-chairgrandparents.  Ron still windsurfs and skis at 80, I’m a couple of blips behind him and have just taken up Pickle Ball and am still into landscape development and gardening.  We are “comfortable and challenged” with our choice of activities.  I may not be dancing around an imaginary campfire, like Katheryn Hepburn, but I can still burn the leaves and debris mother nature deposits in our yard and build fairy houses with our youngest granddaughters.

Easter basketNo,  I have not given up my Easter Bunny suit.  Thought it was outgrown last year with the grand children in their teens and early twenties.  Not so. I am informed by their father that they’d be “devastated”, his word, if they didn’t get their usual baskets and have the Easter egg hunt, ($’s inside plastic eggs with one special $ prize going to the finder, the rest divided amongst the players.)  It is still dark as I creep about the yard, hiding pink, purple, yellow baubles in the bushes.

The Easter Egg hunt is always eagerly awaited. The rules are laid, the baskets clutched and off they go. I’ve hidden THE prize right in plain sight in the mouth of a lily.   The oldest wins the prize. Fitting.  He’s turning twenty-four, starting his own landscape business and can use the $’s.

Easter morning, their last day.  We all sit for pancakes Ron has cooked with bacon and ham, watermelon (yes) and french fries, (left over from Harry Potter’s venture).  The departure time arrives.  Bags are tied on the rooftop (no room inside) and we  cross our fingers hoping the knots are secure.  Seven people climb into the SUV with pillows and throws.  A wave and a honk and hopefully, twenty-one hours later, they will be home, exhausted, a bit sun burned, all stooping to pet and hug  Meeko who greets them as only a dog left alone for ten days can.

As the car fades from sight, we sigh,  shake our heads and enter the house. Our early ventures of overnight drives are hazy memories.  Now we take two nights on the road and a lot of pit stops to cover the same distance.   Ron grabs the vacuum, I mop the kitchen, remove the leaves from of the table, stack the extra chairs in the closet.  Within two hours, three loads of towels and sheets are being folded, three more loads await.  I find some of the contents of the Easter baskets I created (from the dollar store) left behind (limited car space?) It is the “idea” of waking up Easter morning to the basket by the foot of the bed.

The house is quiet now,  the front entry has but two pairs of shoes.  The clock chimes.  No sound of laughter, or our son’s voice on the phone trying to sell a house. The silence echoes.  We wait for their call.  Five beautiful grandchildren growing through the most difficult time of their lives…I revel in the compliments of the neighbors regarding their “old-fashioned” politeness, their heroic father raising them the best he can while mentoring, loving, and trying to do the work of two parents:  provider, teacher, and nurturer.  The one thing I love about the children the most?  They love and take care of their father.  What more can a mother ask.

A perfect vacation?  Not exactly.  A quiet time with our son hearing of his life, his joys, his frustrations would have been nice, or to have had some conversation, eyeball to eyeball with the grandchildren, no e mails, texting (we don’t) just old fashioned voices, seeing their eyes fill with dreams and plans, but–Ron did come out of the bedroom, only ate by himself one meal and, well, I wasn’t going to mention that we got into a little twit over vacuuming the stairway.  He’s a “do-it-right” person and I’m a “good-enough” person. Glad it was only the vacuum  he threw down the stairs.  He still has those moments, but, after almost sixty years of surviving our differences, this too shall pass, and, as vacations go, I think it went rather well.



The following information was gleaned from the internet and who knows, there may be a kernel of truth in it.  At any rate I found the possibilities suggested here to be entertaining, if not factual.

Cliche: A phrase or opinion that is overused and lacks “original” thought.“You don’t miss the water ‘till the well runs dry.”

Interesting.  Maybe it’s because I’m’ OLD that I pause when I hear some of these sayings. I’ve begun to wonder just where they originated.  Recently I received an e mail that educated me on some of the more interesting origins.  It was taken from a webpage:  I share this information.

My older sister is always saying that she has “never had a pot to piss in.”  Of course I know that she is discussing her “worldly wealth” not the ownership of a POT.

What I have learned, (never too old): The beginning of this saying was “piss poor.”  Where did this saying come from?  In the old days urine was used to tan animal skins, so poor families used to all pee in a pot and sell it to the tannery, thus, “piss poor.”

$pot to pissNow you might think they were the poorest of the poor…WRONG!  The really poor folk couldn’t afford to buy the pot!  They didn’t have a “pot to piss in” and were the “bottom of the totem pole.”

Most poor folks had dirt floors…”Dirt poor” but the rich folks had slate floors, “slippery when wet.” Solved by spreading straw on the floor.  Adding straw throughout the winter was necessary, but it would slip outside when the door was opened.  Solution?  A piece of wood was placed in the doorway, hence a “Thresh hold.

Why is June the most popular month to get married?  In the 1500’s May was the month most people took their YEARLY bath and they still smelled pretty good by June…not great mind you, thus the custom of carrying a bouquet when getting married to hide the bride’s body odor.Roses

And that bath?  Baths were taken in a large tub filled with water heated on the stove…and…well, the man of the house got first bath, then the sons, then the wife, then the children in order of age. (At least my sisters and I drew straws so that I, the youngest, wasn’t always last. I’m old but I wasn’t born in the 1500’s.) The very last to get their bath was the babies, hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” old-wash-tub-galvanized-metal-washtub-original-vintage-Wheeling-label-Laurel-Leaf-Farm-item-no-k72971-2

In those early days some area houses had “thatched roofs,” thick straw piled high with only strips of wood as a framework to hold the straw.  The roof was the only place for animals to sleep warm, thus the cats, even dogs, (not sure how the dogs got on the roof?) and other small animals like mice (bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained, the straw would become slippery and sometimes the animals would fall off the cats and dogsroof, hence…“its raining cats and dogs.

And, that’s not all…the small animals and bugs often fell through the roof which really messed up your bed.  So–the “four–poster bed with a canopy” was born.

Food: Ah, we’ve all seen movies of the big pot hanging in the fire.  Since meat was scarce, the stew usually consisted of mostly vegetables.  The leftovers were kept in the pot and new items were added as available which meant some of the food had been there for sometime.  Hence the rhyme: “peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”  Sometimes they could obtain pork which made the meal special.  When visitors came over, they hung up their bacon to show off.  It was a sign of wealth that a man could Man baconbring home the bacon.”  They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”

The wealthy often had plates and mugs of pewter.  High acid food leached lead into the food causing lead poisoning, death.  For over 400 years tomatoes were thought to be tomatopoisonous.

Bread was divided according to status.  Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family the middle, the guest got the top.  Hence, “Upper Crust.”

DEATH: In the taverns whiskey and ale were served in Pewter/lead mugs. Imbibers were often knocked out for a couple of days.  Passerbys would find them along the road, mistake them for dead and prepare them for burial.  The family would lay them out on the table for a couple of days, gather around drinking and eating waiting to see if they would wake up.  Hence, “Holding a wake.body wake

Burial ground in England became scarce.  Coffins were dug up,   the bones went to a “bone house” and the grave reused.  In one out of twenty-five graves the coffins were found to have scratch marks, evidence that people were being buried alive.  A cautionary routine was initiated.  A string was tied to the wrist of the corpse, fed through the coffin up through the soil and tied to a bell.  A person was assigned to sit in the graveyard for wake upthe night “The graveyard shift” to listen for the bell.  Someone “saved by the bell” was considered a, “Dead ringer.”

And now you know (a little bit more anyway.) Country of origin for these sayings? England.

Thanksgiving “Family Affair”

]                                                              SUNRISE


It is a beautiful world we live in.  When I get “dumpy” I take a deep breath and look around.  My favorite is the green of spring, the warmth of the summer, the color of leaves in the fall, winter snow, the noise of the world hushed, holding its breath anticipating the first tracks of life across the unbroken perfect covering of white hiding all the imperfections we create.

I think of family and know that I am blessed even tho we have snarly relationships at times.  Communication seems to be the flaw in creation or perhaps it offers  the challenge of looking within ourselves, and learning to build the bridges to understanding.

Forgiveness” is a gift we give ourselves, yet forgiving ourselves seems to be the most difficult.  Accepting our own imperfections and knowing that we are all doing the best we can removes much of the pain from our lives yet ,”EXPECTATIONS”  our own and those around us, become our tools of torture.

Perhaps,“These are the times that try men’s souls,” uttered by Thomas Paine politically, in a more subtle way,  describes every generation of parent and child. You  will face many of the same challenges as those who came before you.  We all experience the desire for love, acceptance, success in our endeavors.  Along with our blessings  you will experience  some failures, loneliness, and rejection.  Although, seemingly, your wold is different, man’s basic desires remain the same.

Parents struggle to protect their children from the pain of life’s gauntlet but it is that very pain that strengthens them.  Even physical pain should be recognized as a blessing for it is our warning signal that something is wrong and should be addressed, not dulled with drugs that allows us to ignore it. Emotional pain sends its signals through depression and tears. Escaping into the artificial world of drugs which leads to the horrors of addiction becomes hell on earth.

Know and believe that you are loved. That the good Lord’s blessing flow abundantly awaiting your partaking in the feast of life.

Love Always,      Grandma


Being a grandparent certainly offers its challenges.  Each of us approach this role in a different manner.  In the beginning we are often needed to baby sit and we think we will use the opportunity to change our mode of “parenting” promising ourselves that we have a second chance to correct some “errors” we made the first time around.  That ain’t easy!  We see disapproval in our children’s eyes when we apply the same disciplinary rules we used with them.  I’ve been told, “We don’t hurt feelings in this house…” which leaves me at a bit of a loss as to what exactly is my role here.

I envy the warm, fuzzy folks who can just “be there,”  hold the child in love and let go of any ideas of  “training.”  But we don’t change, we are who we are.  As the children grow and you dutifully attend their stage performances (if you are lucky enough to live close) or you don’t.  If you can accept the disapproving frowns of your children for words spoken and still enter wholeheartedly into the “grandparent” role, you are successful.

And  they grow– you find the grandchildren engaged in their activities,  your children busy with life’s demands and you fade onto the sidelines becoming shadowy figures on the stage of life.  To be expected, but it leaves a vague, uneasy feeling.  Calls become less frequent, visits, “obligatory” holiday sharing.  I remember my mother-in-law’s rather sharp words about this happening.  We shrugged it off then, but now,  with time, we begin to understand.  To understand does not necessarily change your feelings.  Expectations need to change.  I must learn to enjoy “observing,”  move off  center stage, offer advice only when it is asked,  and bow to the new role of gossamer support.  I can do that!!!

Chronicles of LauraJo

Pat's front cover II


“TRAGIC” hardly begins to describe the heartbreak of LauraJo’s struggle with borderline personality disorder, which her mother documents with the help of LauraJo’s journal entries, poetry and sketches…This book reveals an extraordinarily talented individual who waged an epic strugle and, in her own way, won–for a time.

Although LauraJo (LJ) has been dead for some twenty-five plus years, I bselieve Chronicles is the book she intended to write…to thank all those who reached out to her in her struggles and to let fellow sufferers know that there is so much love and joy in between the dark storms of pain, doubt and fear that the rainbows and sunlight are well worth fighting for.  (author, Pat Engebrecht)


Web page:  Pat’s Publishing,   Pat’s Publishing

LJ baby Sedona




LJ, Sedona, Arizona  (18 months)

children 3







Growing up with brothers, Kurt and Jeff








Camping was a way of life.








Rochester, New York.  LJ with the infamous Bobby Riggs who played in the TV extravaganza against Billy Jean King in the Battle of the Sexes…Billy Jean won.  Tennis was her world.




LJ off to college to the University of Arizona where she played #1 Singles on a full scholarship.











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