Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Not the greatest of news

Here is the latest on our home purchase.

The court date for the completion of the probate proceedings has been set for May 28. However, the contract we made on the new house expires today. The seller does not want to continue the contract. I can't say that I blame him under the circumstances.


I really wanted that house.

Maybe it will still be on the market when the probate is complete.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Shelby's prom photos!

Finally, the day of prom has come and gone! Shelby and her friends all met at a park near us to pose for photos. With the azalias blooming it was the perfect spot.

Those kids really clean up well! :)

Oh, and meanwhile in Stella and Arthur's simple little life:

Yay!!! We got 'em!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Arthur's gifts from Jack and Ron

As promised, here are the prizes Arthur won from Jack and Ron on KYIS Radio!

A Gift from Priscilla's, 615 East Memorial Road where Fun and Fantasy meet: (Whooo Ahhh!)

Coupons for Two Free Iced Lattes or Java Chillers from Sonic ... (It's not just good, it's SONIC good!):

A Gift from the Jack and Ron Crap Box: (Actually the Mannheim Steamroller album isn't exactly "crap," it's just out of season. It will be wonderful in December!)

A $25.00 Gift Certificate to Freddie's Frozen Custard. (This is a very good prize. Freddie's has big hamburger combos for reasonable prices. The coupon should feed all four of us.)

A Jack and Ron Baby Picture, suitable for framing (so they say.)

But, it figures... they didn't have the Sheryl Crow tickets in yet. We have to go back for them.

Well, at least it gives us something still to look forward to!

Oh, the final prize in the immortal words of Jack and Ron:

"Last but not least, for those intimate moments with that special someone... The Jack and Ron Protection Plan!"

Yeah, it doesn't take much to make us happy! :)

Anyway, we are off to the UCO Ballroom. The Junior Prom is almost over, and we parents get the honors of cleaning up while the kids go to a VERY WELL supervised party hosted by one of their teachers.

Prom photos coming up soon!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wow!!!! Arthur is a WINNER!

Whoo Hooo!!!

Arthur won a prize package on the radio today! Actually, he and I have both won a total of 8 times now. It just so happens that our alarm is set to go off 5 minutes before a prize game comes on our favorite radio station.

The name of the game is “TriBond,” where you are given three words and have to give one word that ties them together. The three words were:

1. Suit
2. Bean
3. Top

Answer: Counter. Isn’t he a genius??? Ha ha! Well, I still think it’s pretty good thinking for 6:30 in the morning.

There are supposed to be a whole bunch of neat goodies in the package, the best of which are…


Two tickets to the Sheryl Crow/ James Blunt Concert coming up in August!

He is supposed to pick up the package tomorrow, so I will post again to show everybody the prizes. It’s the little stuff like this that adds so much fun to life!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Speaking of proms...

As Shelby prepares for her Junior prom, my thoughts drift back to my own. We only had the Senior prom, one chance for that memorable "dream" night.

At the time I wasn't even sure I was going to the dance. I didn't have a boyfriend then, and I was too shy to hint around to anybody I didn't know well. But one day Sue introduced me to a friend of hers that I had never met.

His name was Richard, and when she said "This is Stephanie," he gave me a huge smile and said,

"Stella! That fits you better. I love you madly!"

YES!! Rick is the one who named me Stella. I had never met anybody who was so zany and easy to talk to. Within a few days he asked me to the prom and I was totally smitten.

I am writing this post more for myself than anything. I am finding that my memories of those days are fading more each year, and I want to keep them a bit longer. Perhaps one day my kids will want to know more about my younger days.

This is the 1973 Stevenson High School Senior prom at the Mayflower Meeting House in Plymouth, Michigan. The theme was "Old Fashioned Love Song." Yes, those are genuine crushed velvet tuxes in the photo!

This is our portrait taken at the prom. I think it set me back five dollars.

A lot of my friends complained later that they didn't have much fun at the dance, but we three couples cut loose and had a blast. Here are Sue and Arthur, and Kathy (now known as Kathy the Brainiac!) and Mike.

While scanning the photos for this post I felt a lump of sadness in my heart. It was so long ago and so much water has flowed under the bridge, but it came back to me how I really cared about Richard. The prom was our first date. I never have laughed so much as I did with him. He was my first love, became a dear friend and I miss him. I wrote about him awhile back here.

So now here I am 35 years later helping my own daughter prepare for her prom. I wonder if Alex and the rest of her friends will play as big a role in her life as my friends have in mine?

It hit me that it's a real possibility, which makes me realize how close Shelby is to adulthood. I'm not sure how I feel about that. That would be a good topic for another post, but I don't want to think about that right now.

I'll think about it in the morning! (Maybe.)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Oklahoma City Bombing: My own memories

Today is a somber day in Oklahoma City. Thirteen years ago today was the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, the largest terrorist event in the US at that time. It is an event that will always live in the hearts of those of us who live in Oklahoma City. I am sharing some of my own photos taken at the time of the bombing. All of the following photos on this page came from my camera except the cross at night.

Here is a site created by people who are much better with words than I am. The whole experience is embedded deep in me but the feelings are so complicated. It was a great mixture of shock, grief, violation, fear, and anger. In addition, for me there was a feeling of intense gratefulness that my family was uninjured, but guilt for feeling that way when so many families were suffering.

My biggest memory of the day is that Andy worked at the Oklahoma County Court and in the initial chaos, one station reported the bomb hit the County Court. Even after the news was corrected I was still terrified because the County Court was less than two blocks from the Murrah building, and the entire area had been decimated. This is what the entrance to Andy's building looked like the day after.

Some of the lettering was blasted off the building from two blocks away. The whole downtown area was in shambles.

I was at work about 10 miles away and actually felt the blast, but thought it was somebody dropping boxes upstairs. After one of my coworkers informed me what the bang and vibration actually was, I headed for downtown but nobody was allowed in. It was several hours before Andy was able to call me. He and two other wheelchair-bound county employees were stranded for quite awhile on the 4th floor of the court because the elevators had shut down. Finally one of the supervisors came upstairs with an elevator key and brought them to street level. Andy was not allowed to get his vehicle out of the parking garage because of a rumor that there were more bombs present, so he finally hitched a ride home from one of his friends who had a big enough trunk for his wheelchair.

During those hours of worry a cruel hoax rumor spread that the daycare center was the real target of the bomber and additional centers were in danger. John and Shelby were at their daycare, so like thousands of other parents I retrieved them and took them home. John was six months old at the time, the same age as the littlest victim from the Murrah daycare, the last one found. That little soul was the son of one of Andy's coworkers.

After a sleepless night in which we stayed glued to the TV, Andy and I attempted to go downtown to retrieve our vehicle. We were allowed to enter the parking garage because the officer knew Andy from the court. The police were very leery of allowing most people into the area because of the possible threat of additional terrorism.

Our beautiful downtown looked just like a boarded up slum for months after the attack. The damage was incredible. Every window in a four square block area was blown out, and some windows were blown out as far away as eight blocks.

The city became an almost eerie place. We were participating in one giant wake. Almost every resident did something to help out; donating supplies to the firefighters, donating blood, passing out ribbons, contributing money, donating toiletries to the families waiting at the site. There were memorial ribbons everywhere. Every car had their headlights on day and night. Possibly the eeriest thing was that it occured to somebody downtown to light the Christmas cross on what is now the Chase building. The memory of that cross glowing in the middle of April still gives me chills. It felt as surreal as if the sun had risen from the west.

There is still a fence at the site, and every year thousands of items are placed on it. Mementos are now left there each September 11th in memory of everyone in this country who is affected by terrorism. But back when Shelby left her little animal on the fence, 9/11 was still in the distant future.

I pray that no other city will ever again have to live through this.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Preparing for Prom (from the shallow end of my brain!)

This entry is going to be rather shallow. After the emotion I put into my posts the past week, I need a breather. Shallow is good! Good for me today, anyway.

I am finding myself caught up in the excitement of the impending Junior/Senior prom. Although Shelby has attended other formal dances, there is something special about the prom.

At least proms aren’t what they were back in my day. When I was in high school, if we didn’t have a partner, we didn’t get to go. It was panic time if it was less than 8 weeks before the big day and we didn’t have a date. Some of the girls would turn down an invitation because they were waiting for a specific guy to ask them, and then ended up missing out. Or, they would accept an invite from somebody they didn’t like, only to have their prince ask them after it was too late. It was a cardinal sin to break a date to go with somebody else, but once in awhile that would happen and, oh the scandal!

That was a very long time ago. You know, way back when we had to walk 5 miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways. (smile!) Nowadays the kids go to prom with a date, with a friend, with a group of people, or alone. I think that’s the way it should be. Nobody should have to miss their prom!!

Shelby tried on her dress for the first time tonight. We actually bought it a couple of years ago at a wonderful bargain price. (I am an A number 1 bargain hunter, but that is food for another post.)

The day we found it she fell in love with it, although she had no idea where to wear it. Normally I won’t buy things just for the heck of it, but the dress was gorgeous, and the price was right.

It turns out that even with heels it is too long. At 6’1” I always had the opposite problem. Anyway, we are hoping that Aunt Kathy will come to the rescue with her sewing skills!

These are the shoes Shelby picked out. Until now I didn't know that Payless Shoes did dye-to-match,
but they did a great job!

Here are some rhinestones fit for a princess, and now Shelby is just counting down the days.

Sorry, I'm not usually so fluffy brained, but now and then girls just wanna have fun! :)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kathy is officially a Brainiac!

My best friend Kathy has returned to college to pursue her Masters in Nursing Education degree. Because of her fabulous grade point average, last night she was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society for nurses.

Here she is sporting her rope and ribbon (plus her handsome husband Terry.) Yes, this is the very same Kathy who was in the prom picture from my previous post! We have now been friends for 41 years.

This is terrific! Congratulations girlfriend! We're proud of you!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"When we die we will be buried side by side..."

Today I am missing my friend.

When I look at the pictures of Sue they don’t begin to show who she really was. Sue had an angelic beauty that shone from the inside out. Her nickname to many was “Sunshine,” and it wasn’t just because of her flaming red hair. There was such warmth about her that could brighten any sadness. A kinder, gentler soul never lived.

This is a photo snapped at our Senior Prom. My two best friends were Sue and Kathy, I was always the giant among the little people! :)

Here we are being silly at a kid's party. We were about age 25. I moved to Oklahoma a few months after this was taken, but I made it back to visit 2-3 times a year. After Sue's death and my brother's wedding, I did not return to Michigan for 9 years.

Here is a photo of our families together. I took the picture of Sue, Arthur and their kids along with my brother Doug, Jimmy and Shelby.

This photo of the four of us was taken at our 20th class reunion. Sue's accident happened eight months later.

This was taken one of the last times I ever saw Sue. I was supposed to see her at my brother's wedding on April 30, '94. She had made Marilyn's wedding gown, and she couldn't wait for everybody to see it.

I will never forget the day of the accident. I was at work, but Arthur made sure I was alone before he broke the news. He couldn’t bring himself to say the “D” word. How he phrased it was:

“I don’t know how to tell you this… Susie’s memorial services are planned for Wednesday.”

In that crazy, swirling moment I remember a flash of being indignant. The real meaning of his words didn’t sink in for a minute. How dare they plan something that important for Wednesday when they all knew I was going to be there in less than three weeks?

Then the reality of what he said hit, and I wept, not only for the loss of my friend, but for Arthur and his four young sons.


When Arthur and I were married, we purchased the two cemetery plots under mine and Andy's to inter her cremains, and someday Art and I will also take up residence there.

I had forgotten about Sue's entry in my high school yearbook, but recently found it. I smile when I think about how distant we perceived death in those days:

Here is the entire entry, you can click on it to enlarge. Just a lot of light teenaged thoughts, not an inkling of how prophetic the words would turn out to be. She even thanked me indirectly for introducing her to Arthur! :)

Although I hope it is awhile before it happens, I guess you were right, Susie. Not quite side by side, but pretty darn close.

Here is a link to Sue's memorial site with more photos and memories of her. I feel better having written about her, but all this is such a tiny bit of who Sue was to those of us who knew and loved her.

In Loving Memory of Sue

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My friend Sue

Susie will be gone fourteen years tomorrow.

For anybody new that may be reading this, Arthur’s late wife Sue was one of my best friends. This presents a complication in my marriage to Arthur that most of my re-partnered friends don’t need to worry about.

Sometimes I have problems reconciling my love for Arthur with my loyalty to the memory of Susie, although I understand in my rational brain that she is no longer here. I am not replacing her, and I'm sure she would understand why Arthur and I ended up together. In fact, knowing Sue, she would be so concerned about Arthur that she would want me to be with him.

Awhile back, Arthur had a “visitation” dream. Since I know Sue so well, his description gave me chills.

Art had a really severe, splitting headache and was in bed in the afternoon. I had to take one of the kids to some band activity for a couple of hours. I kissed him goodbye, and left.

When I came home, Arthur woke up and said "I had this really vivid dream that Sue was here. She said that since I was hurting so bad and you had to be away that she would sit with me until you came back."

It would be so like Sue to do something like that.

The past few years I have focused on the fact that April 9th brings so much pain to Arthur. But, although I will be kind to him tomorrow, I need to take time to remember my friend who means much, much more to me than simply being Arthur’s late wife.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Oh No! Not Again!

Gas prices have gone up AGAIN! What can we trim from our budget this time?